Catering students from Corby came home winners after impressing diners at the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
A group of 22 trainee chefs and nine waiters spent four days at the famous racing festival developing their skills.
And it was no easy ride. They were up at 5am every morning and did not get back to their accommodation until 10pm each evening.
The week-long experience was organised by chef lecturer John Fahy at Tresham College’s catering department at the Manor House, Corby.
He said: “I’m extremely proud of the whole team. They went as students but they came back as catering professionals. Seeing them grow in confidence makes my job worthwhile.”
The first, second and third year trainees ranged in age from 16 to mature students in their 40s and 50s.
They were assigned to some of the racecourse’s 40 kitchens and worked on providing lunches for up to 600 people and afternoon teas for as many as 900 hungry race-goers.
“The Cheltenham Gold Cup has up to 80,000 visitors a day and the food served is created and served by five-star chefs and their teams.
Mr Fahy said: “The professional chefs we were working with said they were the best students they had ever had.
“It was hard going for them but they were brilliant and the experience was invaluable.
“It was a fantastic opportunity and a chance to be in real kitchens with real chefs, dealing with all kinds of problems. They weren’t treated with kid gloves.”
Ashley Baron, 18, a second year trainee chef at Manor House, said: “It was great experience because of the amount of covers we had to do. Hard work – but we all enjoyed it.”
The students made such a good impression that Compass, the UK’s major catering company, has promised the students from Tresham College similar work experience opportunities at the Grand National and the Labour Party Conference.