The Country Range Student Chef Challenge is Back!

Following the cancellation of culinary competitions over the last 18 months, a new generation of chefs have the chance to cook for the ultimate glory, as the much-anticipated Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2022 returns. 

The widely endorsed competition, which has been running for over a quarter of a century, provides the ultimate test for teams of three full-time hospitality and catering students from colleges around England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Seen by many as the pinnacle for catering students looking to showcase their culinary skills under intense competition conditions, the Country Range Student Chef Challenge is run in partnership with the Craft Guild of Chefs, who provide competition-standard judging and detailed feedback to the students. 

Chris Basten, from the Craft Guild of Chefs and lead judge commented; “We’ve missed it, the lecturers have missed it and by God have the students missed it! It’s terrific to have the Country Range Student Chef Challenge back. The lack of competitions has left a huge gap in the learning and enjoyment factor for many hospitality students. After being cooped up for the last 18 months, I’m expecting to see more interest than ever and believe this could be the biggest and best year yet.” 

An incredible prize of an overnight stay and meal followed by work experience at a Michelin star restaurant is on offer to the winning team alongside profile publicity, all of which supports their first steps into a permanent role in hospitality.

“Winning the Student Chef Challenge helped me prove to myself that anyone can succeed and achieve their goals regardless of their background. Winning gave me that boost of confidence in facing both work and everyday life adversities. It has also taught me the importance of teamwork and that difficulties can be overcome if a group of individuals work as a unit. I would definitely recommend other student chefs to compete. While competitions can be stressful at times, it is important to appreciate the challenge and have fun throughout the process.” Said Andreau Talla, a member of the City of Glasgow College winning team in 2019.

The 2022 Challenge

The 2022 challenge tests each student’s essential core skills and techniques and has been carefully designed in line with the NVQ 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 techniques, knowledge of flavour and teamwork skills. 

Teams must cook a menu including smoked fish canapes, a guineafowl main course and a tart with a crumble topping for dessert, the dishes need to be prepared, cooked and presented to a high standard within 90 minutes. Entry to the competition is now open and forms can be found online, the deadline for submissions is the 26th November 2021.  A paper judging stage will commence in December before the practical regional heats take place in late January and early February 2022.

The nerve-racking live final will see a cook-off between eight teams at the Hotel, Restaurant & Catering Show in Excel, London on the 22nd March 2022.

“The Country Range Student Chef Challenge isn’t just about competing – it’s an all-round, fantastic experience for the students. Many of our students have never been to London so in addition to being an unbelievable platform for them to push and test themselves, travelling to London, staying in hotels and meeting the other students is an experience in itself” comments Robbie Phillips, Lecturer at the City of Glasgow College whose team clinched victory in the 2019 final.

The 2020 Winners

A trio of talented chefs from the City of Liverpool College came out on top during the thrilling conclusion in the Live Grand Final in 2020. “It’s a fantastic competition to be involved in and we’ve all learnt a lot. Whether that’s better time management, menu planning, teamwork or use of ingredients and flavours, we’ve all picked up skills along the way which will prepare us for a future career in the industry but winning is the cherry on top.” Said Chi-Hin Cheung, part of the 2020 winning team.

The three culinary students – Chi-Hin Cheung, Talent Sibindi and Beth Disley-Jones – were under the tutelage of lecturer Ian Jaundoo and wowed the judges with their inventive menu, impressive skills and techniques and ability to stay calm under the watchful eyes of the live audience.

For further information and to download an application form, visit www.countryrangestudentchef.co.uk