Former England rugby union star Matt Dawson provided the icing on the cake for South Tyneside College students at a prestigious national catering event.
The 2003 World Cup winner and Question of Sport TV show captain spent time quizzing them about their future careers.
Cookery students Christopher Murray, 19, Shannon Little, Caleb Kostromin, and Dylan Thompson, all 18, were at Ascot racecourse in Berkshire, at the annual Sodexo Salon Culinaire chef skills event.
Matt is an ambassador for Sodexo, which runs catering services at South Tyneside College.
The students, who undertook the 600-mile round trip in little over 24-hours, gained first-class insight into the professional catering industry.
Eamonn Murphy, Sodexo account manager at the college, said: “Meeting Matt was a great experience for the students. He reached the pinnacle of his profession and is an example of what can be achieved through hard work and dedication.
“It was great for them to meet him and attend such a prestigious event with leading chefs and industry professionals.”
Level 3 student Christopher said: “It’s been great to get the chance to see how other chefs operate, and their different styles and designs of cooking.”
Lecturer David Taylor said: “It’s too easy in the North East to be insular. This has been an ideal opportunity to open their eyes to what else is available.”
Paula Lumsden, a Sodexo barista at Costa LRC at South Tyneside College, attended the event for the fourth successive year and reached the final ten of 300 competitors in the event’s barista competition.
South Tyneside College, the TES FE Awards 2017 top college and best provider of Further Education, runs a range of catering courses.
Disciplines covered include kitchen and front of house, professional cookery, food and beverage service, and professional cookery.
Further information is available by visiting www.stc.ac.uk or by calling 0191 427 3500.