Hospitality student dishes out VIP treatment at Wembley

A City of Glasgow College student has been dishing out VIP treatment backstage at Wembley Arena after coming second out of 8,000 in a competition to uncover the best young chefs in the country.

Courtney McDowell, who studied at Rosshall Academy while also enrolled on the Professional Hospitality course at City of Glasgow College, was invited to work in the VIP area at London’s Summertime Ball concert, after she was announced as the runner-up in the 2016 Springboard FutureChef competition.

The talented 16-year-old was given the opportunity to work under Wembley Stadium Executive Head Chef, Mark Reynolds, at the popular concert which was attended by over 12,000 people and featured performances from some of the music industry’s biggest stars including Ariana Grande, Little Mix and Will.i.am.

Courtney, who hopes one day to open her own restaurant in Glasgow, returns to City of Glasgow College in September to begin a full-time Professional Cookery course. She said: 

“FutureChef has given me lots of confidence and I have learnt so much. I now have new skills and have learned about different cooking techniques. I learned how to put dishes and menus together and work under pressure to a deadline. Springboard has started an amazing journey for me.”

FutureChef is an annual competition run by The Springboard Charity that aims to inspire and encourage the next generation of hospitality professionals. 

Willie McCurrach, Curriculum Head for Food at City of Glasgow College, said he was absolutely delighted for Courtney and her mentor, Chef Lecturer, Andy Cumming. Willie said: 

“To come second out of more than 8000 entrants is an amazing achievement. This is the furthest we have gone in the competition so we are very proud of Courtney and wish her great success in her career, but also in competitions as hopefully she will now want to compete in more.”

Courtney’s mother, Audrey, added: “When Courtney was offered a place at City of Glasgow College, we were thrilled. She’d only been at the college a couple of months when she entered FutureChef and came first in the regional final at the Grand Central Hotel – I was ecstatic when she won. Finishing second in the final has driven Courtney to do better and it has put her on the path to great things.”