A triumphant trio of college students and their chef lecturer are celebrating after winning the coveted Country Range Student Chef Challenge title.

Iona Duncan, Agnieska Dudko and Katarazyna Hospodarewska from Ayrshire College beat off all of the competition to win the award after a gripping live theatre final at ScotHot in Glasgow.

Their proud chef lecturer Annmarie Farr said: “We’re over the moon! The girls were outstanding – I couldn’t fault their performance. There has been an amazing atmosphere at the college since we won – everyone is so delighted.”

The Ayrshire College team progressed to the national final after winning one of four semi-finals, and believe the judges’ comments on the day were crucial to their ultimate success.

“We listened carefully to the feedback that we got from the judges in the regional heats and really took on board the things they had recommended,” explained Annmarie. “Competitions like this are so important for students’ professional development, confidence building and showing them what they are capable of. People travelled from all around the UK so you realise how big and important the competition is to student chefs, the lecturers and colleges.”

Annmarie also stressed the importance of choosing the right students to join the team. “It’s all about teamwork. Some of the girls only started college last September so to be able to cook food to this level is a big challenge. “I had to choose the right people in terms of reliability and going above and beyond what’s expected because they had to put in a lot of extra hours. Two of the team are mature students who were juggling part-time jobs and families, and Iona suffered a family bereavement during the process so it wasn’t easy but they remained very focused and dedicated throughout.”

Annmarie would thoroughly recommend the Country Range Student Chef Challenge to other college lecturers. “It’s one of the biggies,” she explains. “It’s a great experience – once in a lifetime – and the girls will remember it forever. It is the pinnacle of their careers. Winning has brought fantastic publicity to the college too and it will look brilliant on the girls’ CVs.”