Budding young chefs turned up the heat on their cooking skills with a students versus army Hell’s Kitchen-style challenge.
Professional cookery students at Stockton Riverside College laid down the gauntlet by inviting army chefs to face them in a cook-off.
“The idea was to give our students a totally different experience,” said Louise Ramp, the college’s course leader for catering and hospitality.
And what could be better than getting the chance to cook alongside armed forces personnel with years of experience cooking and serving food for the military?
A former army chef herself, instructor Louise said: “It was certainly a challenge for our students but not so easy for the army chefs either.
“They wouldn’t be used to working in a restaurant, so it was something totally different for them.”
Making up the army’s team was Sergeant Michael Chappell, Private Jamie Allan and Sergeant Mik Cottingham, all from the Royal Logistic Corps.
Sgt Chappell said: “This was something very different for us, my job is to meet the catering needs of the regiment in camp and on exercises. We are never in a restaurant environment, if you are doing dinner on camp everyone eats every course at the same time.”
Sgt Cottingham, a keen baker who baked and decorated the Royal Mail’s 500 years celebration cake in the presence of The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, added: “I have really enjoyed it and am very impressed with the students, they are very polite and knowledgeable and want to learn.”
Seconded to the army team for one night only, cookery student Jake Thomson said: “I learnt so much from being on the army’s team, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity that has been amazing.”
Going into battle in the kitchen, each team served up a three course menu. Paying dinner guests were the judges with a tally being kept of orders coming in from the college’s Infinity Restaurant.
The army took the lead for the starters and mains while the student team fought their way back to a draw when it came to desserts.
Course leader Louise said: “It was an amazing experience for all involved. We will definitely be planning a rematch.”