South Thames College Student chefs are hoping to be the mane event

Budding chefs and front of house professionals from South Thames College have an exclusive opportunity to design, cook and serve a menu at the prestigious Investec Derby Festival held at the Epsom Downs Racecourse.

Over 50 students from the college’s Hospitality and Catering Academy will work in teams to develop three-course menus fit to be served to high-profile guests paying over £700 a ticket for the event in June 2015.

The creators of the winning menu, selected by Investec, will be given the unique opportunity to cook their menu with the Epsom Downs catering team. Dishes will then be served by their classmates at Epsom’s hospitality suites, hosting more than 1,000 people during the two-day event.

Representatives from Investec, sponsors of the event, and the Jockey Club, who own the racecourse, pitched the competition at the college’s Merton Campus. Later this month, students will attend a race day to tour the venue ahead of submitting their menus.

Level 2 Professional Cookery and Front of House student, Mary-Jay St.Hill, 17, from Croydon, said: “I only started college two weeks ago so to already be given this huge opportunity makes me feel quite nervous but also really excited. Hopefully it’ll give me a chance to get my name out there and learn more about coping under pressure in a fast-paced environment.”

Steve Cannell, Head of the Hospitality and Catering Academy at South Thames College, says: “Working on such an inventive project lets our students gain valuable understanding of the many sides to catering. Being part of the high-profile Investec Derby Festival will really push our students – it’s exactly the sort of challenge that develops their catering skills and their awareness of the business.”

The teams will have to present their ideas to a judging panel, made up of senior Investec representatives and Epsom Down’s chefs, with successful students taking part in a cook off in the following stage. The winners will be announced in early December.

Helen Hutchinson, general manager at Epsom Downs Racecourse, says: “We are committed to working alongside our local community and this is a great opportunity to engage with the next generation. It’s our first time partnering with a local college and we look forward to introducing fresh talent and helping to develop more great chefs into the industry.”