Tom Peters, whose first full-time job was at the Langstone Hotel on Hayling Island, has reached the final 12 of the contest, starting from a field of 48.
The Petersfield chef said: ‘It’s been a fantastic journey to get this far.
‘It’s completely different to what you would normally expect in a kitchen.
‘It has really pushed me as a chef, you have to ignore the television cameras, and get your head down and focus on what you are doing.’
Level 3 culinary academy course manager Iain Baillie taught Tom when he was at the college in 2009.
He said: ‘I was with Tom for three years at the college and he was a pleasure to teach.
‘He was totally full of energy with an attitude that was so enthusiastic and eager to learn.
‘I saw the potential in him from day one – when he came in for an open evening he asked such knowledgeable questions about the industry.
‘It was clear he had a deep passion from the start and whatever the outcome of the show he will learn so many news skills. He will be the star of the future.’
Whilst studying at HSDC, Tom worked at Petersfield restaurant Annie Jones washing up. This was where he first got his inspiration to start cooking.
Tom said: ‘I really enjoyed the buzz of the kitchen.’
After his studies, Tom was offered a place at the Langstone Hotel and then a post at the highly regarded Roux in Parliament Square restaurant, owned by Michel Roux junior.
Now the sous chef, he is responsible for the day to day running of the kitchen, its staff and ordering produce.
The knock-out round of MasterChef: The Professionals begins tomorrow at 8pm on BBC2 and can be caught up on BBC iPlayer.