After a gripping live theatre final at ScotHot 2017 on the 15th March, Iona Duncan, Agnieska Dudko and Katarazyna Hospodarewska from Ayrshire College have been crowned Country Range Student Chef Challenge champions of 2017.

Competing against college teams from around the UK including Blackpool and Fylde College, City College Norwich, City of Liverpool College, Glasgow Clyde College, Henley College, Hopwood Hall College and Loughborough College, the Ayrshire College star all-female trio wowed judges with their teamwork, cooking skills, creativity and plate perfect dishes.

In an extremely tight contest, where Henley College Coventry and City College Norwich took runner-up and third place respectively, teams had to create and plate a three-course meal in just 90 minutes within the theme of “Healthy Gourmet Fine Dining”.

This included a vegetarian starter containing at least one super grain, a main course that could contain meat or fish but had to be centred around imaginative healthy cooking techniques, and a dessert that should contain fruit where possible and refrain from containing too much butter and cream.

The winning menu from Ayrshire College consisted of:

Mushroom Consommé with Chai Seed Dumpling, Broccoli, Pickled Mushrooms and Textures of Onion
Guinea Fowl, Crispy Black Pudding, Fennel, Carrot and Orange Puree and Potato Boulangere, Port Jus
Pistachio, Lime and Coconut Cake with Coconut Sorbet, Passion Fruit Jelly and Compressed Mango

In addition to taking home the prestigious and much coveted Country Range Student Chef Challenge title, the Ayrshire college team have also won the once in a lifetime opportunity to work with the Craft Guild of Chef’s Culinary Team in catering for over a thousand guests at the Craft Guild of Chefs Annual Awards 2017.

Craft Guild of Chefs’ head judge Chris Basten congratulated the winners and commented on just how tough the challenge was:

“A massive congratulations to Ayrshire College who are definitely deserved winners this year. As we expected from the final there was a fantastic array of skills on shows, from sous vide cooking to more traditional and classic cooking methods. Cooking a three-course meal in 1 hour ½ is tough at the best of times but the team showed bags of innovation in their menus and definitely hit the brief with what they served. Each and every team can hold their heads up high at a fantastic job done, as the judging was to strict competition standard so a very well done Ayrshire College who are definitely three young chefs to watch closely in the future.”

Emma Holden, Country Range Student Chef Challenge Manager, said:

“It’s been an incredible challenge with the bar being raised higher and higher each year. From today’s evidence the UK’s professional kitchens are in safe hands as the skills, flavours, combinations and creativity displayed were amazing.  All the teams who competed received Gold or Silver Awards from ScotHot too which just shows the high standard on show by the student chefs. We thank all the teams who took part in this year’s challenge but a huge congratulations goes to the all-female team of Iona, Agnieska and Katarazyna who thoroughly deserve to be named winners of this year’s Country Range Student Chef Challenge.”

Agnieska Dudko, winning team member from Ayrshire College, said:

“It’s just absolutely amazing and we’re all still speechless. Even just to get to the final was a big achievement but to win it is out of this world and I’m just so happy.  The whole challenge was incredibly rewarding, terrifying at times but we couldn’t have done it without our lecturer Annmarie who believed in us and pushed us to be the best we can. We practised hard, worked together, were clean and tidy and cared about everything we did and the hard work definitely paid off in the end. I can’t wait to go to London and cook with the Culinary team now!”

Annmarie Farr, Ayrshire College Lecturer, said:

“I’m the proudest lecturer around and delighted my team have won the crown. People have travelled from all around the UK so you realise how big and important the competition is to student chefs, the lecturers and colleges. I’ve entered and put students through similar competitions in the past but this is definitely by far the highlight because to get this stage and to have done so well is absolutely amazing for the girls. ”

Now in its 23rd year, the annual Country Range Student Chef Challenge, which is run in partnership with the Craft Guild of Chefs, has become the pinnacle for full-time hospitality and catering college students looking to showcase their culinary prowess and creativity, while developing “real life” catering skills and experience under intense pressure situations.  Applications for the 2018 Country Range Student Chef Challenge open on the 30th April so for further information and to register your interest visit

With 25 years of heritage servicing the UK’s innovative foodservice sector, Country Range is the leading independent foodservice brand and now offers over 850 products, all developed exclusively for professional caterers.  Covering grocery, chilled, frozen and non-food, Country Range is widely recognised by caterers as a trusted and reliable brand delivering consistent quality and value for money without compromising on taste and flavour.  The brand is developed and produced by the Country Range Group and is distributed exclusively by the 13 independent wholesalers that make up the Group.


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