With the new college year upon us, it’s time for hospitality lecturers and students to dust off the apron and sharpen their knives as the Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2023 launches.

Following two years where students missed out on much of their practical lessons and serious cookery competitions due to Covid, 2022 saw a flood of emotion and talent wash over the Country Range Student Chef Challenge as the next generation of young chefs truly celebrated being back in action in style. 

With an increasing number of colleges now over the effects of Covid and looking to compete again, the 2023 Challenge is expected to be even bigger and better than ever before. The widely endorsed competition, which has been running for over a quarter of a century in conjunction with the Craft Guild of Chefs, provides the greatest test for hospitality and catering students from colleges around England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

The deadline for entries for the 2023 Challenge is the 30th November. Full details of the theme and application process can be found at

The 2023 Challenge

The Challenge once again focuses on testing essential core skills and techniques and has been carefully designed in line with the syllabus to assess both classical and modern cooking techniques.   

Each team of three must work together to devise a delicious three-course menu that showcases their technique, knowledge of flavour and teamwork skills. This year’s theme is ‘Around the World’ encouraging students to research and be inspired by various food formats, flavours and cooking techniques from different cultures and cuisines.

Each course focuses upon
a different cuisine

Starter – Mexico

Main – Africa

Dessert – Australia

Four portions of each will need to be produced in the live heat and final stages of the competition, if the teams are successful in reaching those stages. The dishes need to be prepared, cooked and presented to a high standard within 90 minutes.

Application forms are available now with the deadline for submissions set for the 30th November 2022. A paper judging stage will follow in December before the practical regional heats take place in late January and early February 2023.

The nerve-racking live final will see eight teams cook-off at Hotel, Restaurant & Catering (HRC) Show on Tuesday 21st March 2023.

The prize will include a two-day study tour of London, including work experience within a Michelin starred restaurant. 

Full details of the theme and application process can be found at www.countryrangestudentchef.co.uk 

What the finalist lecturers said:

“The boys were very happy to place where they did in 2022, especially given the standard but they had a brilliant time and experience. Nothing can really prepare them for cooking in front of a live audience and judges but I was very proud with how they worked together, supported each other and got through it. The experience will stay with them and will no doubt make them better chefs.”

Jake Piper from Cambridge regional college

“An awesome adventure for our students and the perfect way to prepare them for the pressures of a busy professional kitchen. I’m so happy with our team – they put so much work into practise beforehand and they were outstanding together as a team on the day.
They improved throughout and the experience will stay with them for a long time.”

Stuart Ascott from West Sussex College

What the student finalists said:

I’m still buzzing from the adrenaline – what an experience.  A little terrifying to say the least but so much fun and I’m so proud of the team and the food we produced.”

Harry Falkingham from West Sussex College

“It was an unreal experience and we can all be very happy with our performance. Travelling from North Wales meant it was an extra-long and tiring 24 hours for us so to produce the dishes we did, we can definitely hold our heads up high. There is always improvement to be made but being involved in these types of challenges certainly helps you improve and push yourself.”

Pippa Taylor from Coleg Llandrillo