STUDENT chefs from City of Glasgow College are preparing to defend their international cook-off title in a live head-to-head competition in America.

City of Glasgow College senior chef lecturer - and current BBC Masterchef: The Professionals winner - Gary Maclean will coach the students as they aim to retain the prestigious Atlantic Cup against Maryland’s Anne Arundel Community College on Wednesday.

The college students triumphed over their American opponents in the inaugural Atlantic Cup cooking challenge, held during the launch of City of Glasgow College’s new £228m super college last year.

The cook-off also saw the launch of an international student exchange programme.

Students Russell Starkey, Wendy Lo, Anthony Mahon, Kevin McCafferty and Hayley McCook face a challenging culinary test more than 3000 miles away from home as they compete against trainee chefs from Anne Arundel Community College, regarded as one of the best culinary schools in America.

Gary said: “This competition revolves around a black box, or a mystery basket, of ingredients. In front of a live audience, the students have to use the ingredients to create a three course meal for four people within a specified timeframe."

In a letter to the five students, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon applauded the trainee chefs in their transatlantic ambassadorial role for the entire Scottish college sector.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I am confident that you will all show the skill and creativity which gives our colleges such high international standing.”