SUPER chef Mark Kempson was back in familiar surroundings as he made a happy return to a Basingstoke college to help students who want to follow in his footsteps.

Former Basingstoke College of Technology student Mark, who is now head chef at the Michelin-starred Kitchen W8 in London, returned to the place where he learned how to cook, to work with current students.

Joined by his sous-chef, Dan Waghorn, the former catering and hospitality student said his former lecturer had inspired him to become a chef.

He added: “I love coming back to BCoT – for me this is where it all began. My inspiration was Ian Pitt, who still runs the kitchens at the college. He was my mentor, a great tutor and remains a close friend and confidante.”

Level 3 hospitality students at BCoT, in Worting Road, worked with Mark and Dan for two days, preparing top cuisine including venison kebab and black pudding scotch egg, barbecue-glazed breast of quail with Yorkshire rhubarb and seared foie gras, and salt caramel parfait with chocolate milk puree. The food was served up to diners in The Restaurant.

Mark remembered being inspired when a guest chef visited during his training at BCoT. He said: “Our guest chef was Phil Yeomans, who is now head chef of the Avenue Restaurant at Lainston House Hotel, in Winchester.

“He showed me where you can go if you work hard and have the determination to succeed. I hope I can inspire the next generation of young chefs by sharing my knowledge, skill and passion for food with them.”

One student who was inspired by Mark was Ben Vermeulen, who came from Zimbabwe to study catering at BCoT.

He said: “I looked at the whole of the UK for the right course and chose BCoT as it has such a great reputation for Level 3 and progression. Someone like Mark Kempson is just such a great icon for me.”

Ian Pitt, course tutor, said: “Guest chef evening is a fantastic opportunity for our students to work with top chefs who are masters at their trade.

“There is so much to be learned from these experts and it gives our students a real insight into where they could be in a few years if they work hard and display as much drive and passion as Mark.”