A COOKERY student from Irvine made a big impression at a London show recently.

Claire Galloway-Dobinson, 37, was part of an Ayrshire College team who took third place in the national Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2023.

Together with Samantha Stirling, 35 from Fenwick and Iwona Grzesikiewicz, 45, from Barrhead, she impressed judges throughout the live final with their flavour-packed menu, high-level cookery techniques and all-round teamwork and organisation. 

The theme for this year’s competition was ‘Around the World’, which encouraged the students to research different countries and be inspired by various ingredients, flavours and cooking techniques from across the globe.

Mexico was the focus for the starter, Africa for the main, and Australia for the dessert.

The Ayrshire team’s menu included the following:

Starter - Baked Cajun sea bass with tortilla leaf, citrus cured and marinated sea bass ceviche; fermented black bean puree with Mole sauce, coral Tuille, avocado fries with feta cheese.

Main - Herb and pistachio crusted cannon of lamb; lamb faggot with artichoke puree and crisps; spiced sweet potato fondants with Durban spiced coconut masala sauce.

Dessert - Australian Sunset – White chocolate sphere filled with vanilla poached peach, peach mousse, vanilla ice-cream and fresh raspberries, with a honeycomb tuille, and molten raspberry sauce.

As well as making the podium and receiving a silver merit certificate from the Craft Guild of Chefs, the Ayrshire team also won Flint & Flame knives.

Annmarie Farr, hospitality lecturer at Ayrshire College, said: “I am absolutely delighted for our students. It’s such a prestigious, highly regarded competition so I’m privileged to have been part of their journey and the memories they will have made.”

Graham Caldwell, Country Range Group marketing manager and challenge organiser, said: “Well done to Ayrshire College team who had to travel a long way to compete and did Scotland proud.

"The dishes they created were seriously impressive and we expect big things from Samantha, Iwona and Claire in the future."

Ayrshire College Hospitality and Professional Cookery students also enjoyed success at the ScotHot showcase at the SECC Glasgow in March, gaining two gold, four silver, seven bronze and three merits at the culinary championships.

Hospitality and Professional Cookery Lecturer, Annemarie Farr said: “Our students were a credit to us and themselves, presenting a positive image of the College and the Hospitality department.  A huge well done to all the students who participated in this memorable experience.”

As well as student success, the high calibre of hospitality teaching staff was also recognised at ScotHot, with three members of the lecturing team, Livia Alexander, Dougal Macpherson and Ainslay Miller also winning awards.