The winners of the Country Range Student Chef Challenge have returned from Germany triumphant after an amazing trip.

Rebecca Brooks, Emily Bucknall and Daniella Bromley from Loughborough College were the first all-female winners in the Challenge’s history and part of their prize was to join the Craft Guild of Chefs’ Culinary Team to compete at the Culinary Olympics (17-22 October 2016) in Erfurt, Germany.

Their lecturer Darren Creed also joined the Craft Guild line-up – and, backed by the trio, he won a bronze medal for the Programme Culinary Art, creating four canapés plus a five course Wedding Breakfast festival menu.

Says Darren: “We were competing against the US, Australia, UAE, countries all over Europe, all rolling up in huge lorries and buses with the faces of their team’s chefs on the side. It was incredibly daunting but it was an absolutely amazing experience. We’d arrive at a freezing cold exhibition centre to set up before 5am but we were sweating because it was so pressurised. I don’t get easily rattled but I’d be putting the garnishes on the dishes and my hands would be shaking.

“At the end, each chef was called up on stage before the results were announced. It was incredible to even be invited to compete in the International Culinary Olympics and, because of the calibre of the competition, I thought I would be very, very happy to even receive a diploma. So when they said I had been awarded a bronze medal I was over the moon. I am still on cloud nine. Without a doubt it was the highlight of my career.”

Darren admits he couldn’t have done it without his talented student team. “The opportunity would never have been there without Emily, Rebecca and Daniella working so hard and winning gold at the Country Range Student Chef Challenge final in London so the medal is just as much for them. “They were the only all-female team competing in the Challenge final and they won and at the Olympics they were fantastic ambassadors for women in food.”

The Craft Guild team won three silvers and eight bronzes in total. Team manager Fergus Martin said: “It was a really successful trip. The girls did really well and helped everybody. I think they learned a lot from the experience. Competing is very different from being in the kitchen and it’s a very different style of doing things so they have taken a lot away from this.”

What did the girls make of it all?

Rebecca Brooks: “I learned a heck of a lot from the experience. I hadn’t really experienced any competitions like that before. Everything I’d done previously had been judged live when we were cooking, whereas this was done before and glazed and you left it on the table.”

Emily Bucknall: “We talked to chefs from China, the USA, Cyprus… it was unbelievable and so inspiring to see their work. The scale of the competition was incredible. It was amazing for us all to support the team and watch everyone’s creations coming alive.”

Daniella Brooks: “It was so tiring but a brilliant experience. It was great for us to get our names out there with members of the England team and hopefully it will help our careers in the future.”

Visit the Challenge website at to follow the new set of student chef teams progress through the stages of the 2016/2017 Country Range Student Chef Challenge.