With the deadline for entries now passed, sixteen catering colleges from around the UK have received an early Christmas present after they were announced as semi-finalists for the prestigious Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2018/19.

The successful teams to qualify for the semi-final heats following a tough paper judging stage are as follows:

Ayrshire College
Bridgwater & Taunton College
Cambridge Regional College
Carlisle College
City of Glasgow College
Coventry College
Farnborough College
Havant & South Downs College
Hopwood Hall College
Loughborough College
Newcastle College
South East Regional College (SERC)
University of Derby Team 1
University of Derby Team 2

The next stage for the students will be the semi-final heats which will take place between 28th January and 8th February 2019 where they will be required to reproduce their menus under competition conditions and in the presence of the Craft Guild of Chefs’ Chairman of Judges Chris Basten. The dates and locations of the semi-final heats will be confirmed as soon as possible in the New Year.

Run in collaboration with the Craft Guild of Chefs, the competition is celebrating its 25th anniversary and this year the theme focuses on the core skills and techniques students learn on a second-year professional cookery course. The challenge requires teams of three students to plan, prepare and execute a three-course, four-cover menu in just 90 minutes and must include an Asian-themed seabass starter, a main duck dish and a dessert containing at least 30% of Country Range Chocolate Drops.

Chris Basten, the Craft Guild of Chefs’ Chairman of Judges, said:

“The standard of entries this year once again didn’t fail to disappoint and it’s a shame we can’t send them all through to the semi-finals as I’d love to try some of the dishes which didn’t make it. That said, the successful students who did make it thoroughly deserve their places and have shown real creativity and skill in their menus. I can’t wait to see how they prepare the dishes and more importantly how they taste.”

Emma Holden, lead organiser of the Country Range Student Chef Challenge, said:

“A huge thank you to all the colleges who took the time to enter this year’s Challenge and commiserations to those who missed out. Hopefully the feedback received from the Craft Guild of Chefs judges will spur them on to return better than ever next year. The standard of entries has again exceeded our expectations and bodes well for an exciting semi-final stage so congratulations to the sixteen successful teams. However, it’s one thing planning a menu and another thing cooking it so I’m excited to see how the students cope under competition conditions come January.”

Country Range Student Chef Challenge

The long-running Country Range Student Chef Challenge provides full-time hospitality and catering college students with the perfect platform to improve cooking skills, knowledge and technique, while developing real life experience under intense pressure and competition situations.

Run in partnership with the Craft Guild of Chefs, who provide competition-standard judging and detailed feedback to the students, the 2018 Challenge was won by a team of students from the City of Glasgow College.

The Challenge, Criteria and Prize

Teams of three students are required to plan, prepare and execute a three-course, four-cover menu in 90 minutes. The Challenge criteria is focusing on the essential core skills and techniques studied on a second-year professional cookery course and will test student’s knowledge of both classical cooking and the more modern methods of the last 25 years.

The victorious teams from the semi-final heats will compete at the grand final, which will take place on the 13th March 2019 in the Live Theatre of ScotHot – Scotland’s largest hospitality and tourism show.

The cost per cover is £8 and the menus must include:

An Asian themed seabass starter – this must be made using a whole seabass, which must be filleted and presented to judges with bones and trim displayed.

A main duck dish cooked any way – demonstrating butchery skills students must remove both legs by tunnel boning before removing the breasts and presenting the whole carcass to the judges. Portion size for the dish is to be half a breast per person and some of the leg meat.

A classically creative dessert with a modern twist that contains at least 30% of Country Range Chocolate Drops

The prize for the winning team for this special anniversary year is a day work experience placement at a Michelin-starred restaurant, as well as being taken on foodie tour of London which includes a guided tour of the capital’s famous Billingsgate Market where they will be taught fish filleting skills by the resident master fishmonger.

For full details of the Challenge and updates for the locations and dates of the heats visit www.countryrangestudentchef.co.uk.