Overcoming The Challenge

The Country Range Student Chef Challenge is a prestigious culinary competition, which has become a firm fixture in the catering industry’s calendar.

Run in partnership with the Craft Guild of Chefs, who provide competition standard judging and detailed feedback to the students, it has played a huge role in developing young chefs and talent around the UK and Ireland, with previous winning teams being given the opportunity to compete at the Culinary Olympics and cook for the country’s leading chefs at the Craft Guild of Chefs Annual Awards.

Entries to the Challenge were accepted until December 2019 before they went through to a strict paper judging stage. The successful entrants then competed in semi-final heats, with 10 teams progressing to the Grand Final at the Hotel, Restaurant and Catering Show.

The teams, consisting of three full-time catering and hospitality students, were required to plan, prepare and present a three-course, four-cover menu in just 90 minutes with a cost per cover of £8.

The theme
The theme for this year’s Challenge focused on how students can use classic techniques and skills to maximise the use of ingredients, whilst also reducing food waste. Their menus needed to include a:

  • STARTER – A flat fish, filleted and a sauce made from the bones. The dish must be served with appropriate garnish and must include one turned mushroom per portion
  • MAIN – Three bone loin of pork, the eye of the meat must be used. The trim is to be used for a separate element e.g. faggot, kebab or pie. The dish must be served with appropriate garnish including starch, vegetable and sauce
  • DESSERT – A lemon tart with a modern twist

Rewarding Talent
In addition to competing for the Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2019/20 title, all the finalists were also marked by the Craft Guild of Chefs to international judging standards with Silver,
Bronze and Merit certificates awarded. The full list of teams and awards was as follows:
• City of Liverpool College – Silver – Best In Class
• City of Glasgow College – Silver
• Ayrshire College (Kilmarnock Campus) – Bronze
• Peterborough Regional College – Bronze
• University of Derby – Bronze
• Newcastle College – Bronze
• South Eastern Regional College – Merit
• Carlisle College – Merit
• Loughborough College – Merit
• West Suffolk College – Merit

For more photographs from the Live Final, plus all of the finalists’ menus, visit
www.countryrangestudentchef.co.uk

Challenge Accepted!

Designing a technically-challenging menu which fits the brief perfectly and then re-creating it under Live Final conditions is enough to test the most experienced of chefs. However, all of our finalists stepped up to the Challenge with great success.

There can only be one winner sadly, and the team from City of Liverpool College beat off the challenge from rivals City of Glasgow College, who finished in second place, and the University of Derby, in third place.

HERE ARE THEIR WINNING MENUS:

WINNER: CITY OF LIVERPOOL COLLEGE

Starter – Filets de sole Bretonne with beurre blanc sauce, vegetable julienne, turned mushroom and lace tuille  
Main – Cajun spiced pork medallion with savoy milanaise, pork and apple croquette, buttered mash and robert sauce
Dessert – Lemon tart with sesame sable, Italian meringue, lemon gel and raspberry foam

1ST RUNNER UP: CITY OF GLASGOW
COLLEGE
Starter – Steamed sole fillet with mushroom, celeriac, grape, tarragon and parsley sauce
Main – Roast pork loin with sausage roll, smoked potato, Brussels Sprout, chestnut and apple, savoy cabbage and brown sauce
Dessert – Lemon tart with sherbet, black garlic, thyme, frozen milk and blood orange

2ND RUNNER UP: UNIVERSITY OF DERBY
Starter – Lemon sole with courgette cannelloni, turned mushroom, fennel pure, orange beurre blanc and coriander oil
Main – Red wine pork loin with parsnip pure, roasted and pickled heritage carrots, Cypriot pork meatball, sautéed potatoes served with red wine jus sauce
Dessert – Lemon tart with a twist: mint raspberry coulis, Italian meringue and lemon tuille

Champions of the Challenge 

A trio of talented chefs from the City of Liverpool College are celebrating after winning the prestigious Country Range Student Chef Challenge.

They came out on top after a hard-fought battle against nine other teams from colleges around the UK and Ireland, in the Live Grand Final,
which took place at the Hospitality, Restaurant and Catering Show in London. 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.

The theme for the prestigious Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2019/20 focused on how students can use classic techniques and skills to maximise the use of ingredients, whilst also reducing food waste.

After scooping the award, Chi-Hin Cheung said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to have won and I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet. We weren’t expecting to win but I think it helped us in the end as it calmed the nerves and allowed us to focus on our tasks. Cooking in front of a live audience was daunting at first but as the final progressed, we all really embraced the support of the crowd and enjoyed the experience. It’s been 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.”

Winning lecturer Ian Jaundoo added: “I’m absolutely delighted that the team has won a major culinary competition like the Country Range Student Chef Challenge. Although it’s our third time entering, the students are normally used to competing individually so to win as a team of three is a remarkable achievement and they should all be very proud.

They’ve planned their menu from start to finish, making tweaks along the way after the semi-final heat in Glasgow following feedback from the judges, so to triumph in the final is just brilliant and a credit to them and their hard work. Obviously winning is great for their CV, future career prospects and the College’s culinary reputation, but they’ve also mastered new skills and techniques,
and met other catering students and industry contacts along the way which will put them in good shape for the future.”

“A huge congratulations to the City of Liverpool College on winning the Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2019/20 title. Their menu showed fantastic creativity, flavours and taste, whilst also ticking every box on this year’s theme by maximising their ingredients and reducing their food waste while working. And perhaps the hardest part and their biggest achievement was that they managed to replicate it all under the watchful eyes of the judges when it mattered in the Live Grand Final. Well done to all the teams who competed in the final as all the menus showed great planning and execution.” – Craft Guild of Chefs chairman of judges Chris Basten.

City of Liverpool College Crowned Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2019/2020 Winners

City of Liverpool College - Winners of the 2020 Country Range Student Chef Challenge

A trio of talented chefs from the City of Liverpool College came out on top in the thrilling conclusion in the Live Grand Final of the Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2019/2020, which is run in conjunction with the Craft Guild of Chefs and took place at the Hospitality, Restaurant and Catering Show (HRC) on March 3rd.

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.

The theme for the prestigious Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2019/20 focused on how students can use classic techniques and skills to maximise the use of ingredients, whilst also reducing food waste.

The City of Liverpool College students’ menu was first scrutinised by Craft Guild of Chefs Chairman of Judges Chris Basten in December in a strict paper judging stage before the students were then tasked with recreating it in a live semi-final heat at the City of Glasgow College on 6th February 2020. After advancing through to the Live Grand Final, the team then competed against nine other teams from colleges around the UK and Ireland.

The City of Liverpool College winning menu consisted of:

  • Starter – Filets de Sole Bretonne with Beurre Blanc Sauce, Vegetable Julienne, Turned Mushroom and Lace Tuile
  • Main – Cajun Spiced Pork Medallion with Savoy Milanaise, Pork and Apple Croquette, Buttered Mash and Robert Sauce
  • Dessert – Lemon Tart with Sesame Sable, Italian Meringue, Lemon Gel and Raspberry Foam

Chi-Hin Cheung, part of the winning City of Liverpool College team, said:

“We’re absolutely thrilled to have won and I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet. We weren’t expecting to win but I think it helped us in the end as it calmed the nerves and allowed us to focus on our tasks. Cooking in front of a live audience was daunting at first but as the final progressed, we all really embraced the support of the crowd and enjoyed the experience. It’s been 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.”

Winning lecturer Ian Jaundoo added:

“I’m absolutely delighted that the team has won a major culinary competition like the Country Range Student Chef Challenge. Although it’s our third time entering, the students are normally used to competing individually so to win as a team of three is a remarkable achievement and they should all be very proud. They’ve planned their menu from start to finish, making tweaks along the way after the semi-final heat in Glasgow following feedback from the judges, so to triumph in the final is just brilliant and a credit to them and their hard work. Obviously winning is great for their CV, future career prospects and the College’s culinary reputation, but they’ve also mastered new skills and techniques, and met other catering students and industry contacts along the way which will put them in good shape for the future.”

Craft Guild of Chefs Chairman of Judges Chris Basten said:

“A huge congratulations to the City of Liverpool College on winning the Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2019/20 title. Their menu showed fantastic creativity, flavours and taste, whilst also ticking every box on this year’s theme by maximising their ingredients and reducing their food waste while working. And perhaps the hardest part and their biggest achievement was that they managed to replicate it all under the watchful eyes of the judges when it mattered in the Live Grand Final. Well done to all the teams who competed in the final as all the menus showed great planning and execution.”

Country Range Brand Manager Vasita Jantabutara added:

“It was a fantastic and fitting finale to the Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2019/20 and one which showed everyone that the future of the UK and Ireland’s culinary industry is in very safe hands. There have been comments in the media recently that a career in foodservice is unappealing and that people working in it are low skilled but I think the standard of skills shown by the students has dispelled any notion of that. For young student chefs to be able to plan, prepare and execute menus of that quality under competition conditions is phenomenal so hats off to all the teams who took part and a very special congratulations to this year’s winning students from the City of Liverpool College.”

In addition to competing for the Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2019/20 title, all the finalists were also marked by the Craft Guild of Chefs to international judging standards with Gold, Silver, Bronze and Merit certificates awarded. The full list of teams and awards was as follows:

  • City of Liverpool College – Silver – Best In Class
  • City of Glasgow College – Silver
  • Ayrshire College (Kilmarnock Campus) – Bronze
  • Peterborough Regional College – Bronze
  • University of Derby – Bronze
  • Newcastle College – Bronze
  • South Eastern Regional College – Merit
  • Carlisle College – Merit
  • Loughborough College – Merit
  • West Suffolk College – Merit

Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2019/20

The Country Range Student Chef Challenge is a prestigious culinary competition which has become a firm fixture in the catering industry’s calendar.

Country Range runs the competition in partnership with the Craft Guild of Chefs, who provide competition-standard judging and detailed feedback to the students, it has played a huge role in developing young chefs and talent around the UK and Ireland, with previous winning teams being given the opportunity to compete at the Culinary Olympics and cook for the country’s leading chefs at the Craft Guild of Chefs Annual Awards.

Semi-finalists Revealed for the Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2019/2020

Following a very competitive paper judging stage, 14 college teams have been announced as semi-finalists for the Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2019/2020, chaired by Head Judge Chris Basten.

The 14 successful teams taking part in the semi-final heats, which will take place in early February, are:

  • Ayrshire College (Ayr Campus)
  • Ayrshire College (Kilmarnock Campus)
  • Carlisle College
  • City of Glasgow College
  • City of Liverpool College
  • Havant & South Downs College
  • Loughborough College
  • Newcastle College
  • Peterborough Regional College
  • SERC (South Eastern Regional College)
  • University of Derby
  • West Lothian College Team 1
  • West Lothian College Team 2
  • West Suffolk College

Chris Basten, Vice President of the Craft Guild of Chefs and Chairman of Judges at the Country Range Student Chef Challenge, said:

“Each and every application submitted had merit but unfortunately only fourteen teams can make it through so a huge well done to them. The hard part now is to recreate that excitement on the plate and palate under competition conditions in the semi-finals. The students who submitted applications clearly put a lot of time and effort in o their menus as the level of detail was fantastic, with some modern and classic trends, skills and techniques listed in their methods such as pickling, rehydrating and compressing. Best of luck to all students in the next stage.”

Country Range Brand Manager Vasita Jantabutara commented:

“Congratulations to all the teams who have made it through to the semi-final heats and commiserations to those who just missed out. It was an incredibly difficult decision for our judges as the quality of menus submitted was phenomenal and is an example of the fantastic young catering talent we have in colleges around the UK and Ireland. Good luck to all the teams in the semi-finals. I certainly can’t wait to see what is dished up on the day.”

Deadline Extension Announced for Country Range Student Chef Challenge

Catering colleges and aspiring chefs across the UK are being urged to enter the Country Range Student Chef Challenge after…

Catering colleges and aspiring chefs across the UK are being urged to enter the Country Range Student Chef Challenge after the deadline was extended to December 18th to allow more time for teams to enter and for them to perfect their menus.With the Challenge celebrating its 25th year anniversary and the criteria this year focussing on the essential core skills and techniques studied on a second-year professional cookery course, the organisers decided a deadline extension was needed to ensure the best of the UK’s aspiring chefs have time to enter for what is set to be the best competition year yet.
Emma Holden, organiser of the Country Range Student Chef Challenge, said:

“The start of the college year in September and lead up to Christmas can be such a busy period for lecturers and students so we felt it was only fair to extend the deadline by two weeks to allow the teams to fine-tune their menus. With it also being the 25th anniversary of the Challenge, we want to make it extra special and have as many teams enter as possible so hopefully the deadline extension will allow us to do this.”

The Challenge has become the pinnacle for full-time hospitality and catering college students looking to showcase their culinary prowess and creativity in team situation, while developing “real life” catering skills and experience under intense pressure situations. To win the prestigious title, teams of three students will be required to plan, prepare and execute a three-course, four-cover menu in 90 minutes.

The Criteria
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 from the Duck and remove the bones by tunnel boning, then remove both breasts and present boned legs breasts and the 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

To entice the UK’s best student chefs, the prize for the winning team for this special anniversary year will be a day’s work experience placement at a Michelin-starred restaurant. The triumphant team will also be 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.

Emma Holden added:

“Now more than ever there is a great need to change the negative perceptions that working in the hospitality and catering industry can have and highlight what a fantastic career it provides. With the existing skills shortage set to be accelerated by the outcome of Brexit it is essential that we focus on attracting young people to the industry and provide them with the skills they need to excel in the workplace. The Challenge, and other competitions, can play a huge part in this by raising the profile of the industry as well as giving students a platform on which to showcase their talents as the future stars of hospitality and catering.”

For full details of the Challenge, criteria and where you can get your sample of the Country Range Chocolate Drops, visit www.countryrangestudentchef.co.uk.

About Country Range

With over 25 years of heritage servicing the UK’s innovative foodservice sector, Country Range is the leading independent foodservice brand and now offers over 800 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 12 independent wholesalers that make up the Group.

Twitter: @countryrangeuk

Instagram: @countryrangeuk

Robbie Phillips Explains Training Tactics Behind Country Range Student Chef Win

City of Glasgow College Lecturer Robbie Phillips explains what went in to helping his team win this years Country Range Student Chef Grand Final

After leading his team to victory at the third time of asking at Hotelympia in March, City of Glasgow College lecturer Robbie Phillips knows a thing or two about what’s needed to succeed in the Country Range Student Chef Challenge.Robbie and his team of students – Lee Christie, Jordan McKenzie and Erin Sweeney – fought off fierce competition from nine other colleges from around the UK to win the prestigious title, impressing the judges with their flavour, skills, teamwork and organisation.

The disappointment of not making last year’s showpiece final at ScotHot 2017 helped spur Robbie on even more this year and his students were put through their paces to ensure their preparation was perfect for the big finale.

Lecturer Robbie Phillips from City of Glasgow College

“Prior to the final we practised most nights late in to the evening to ensure the team were competition ready. I would make them work in restricted places, give them limited time to set up and even invite people in to the kitchen to distract them as it’s great to keep them on their toes. It certainly paid off this year!”

The benefits to students competing in the Challenge are endless too with Robbie commenting on the skills developed by his team. He continued:

 

“The Challenge is a very sharp learning curve for students but it nurtures creativity and teaches them precision, organisational skills, discipline, speed and teamwork, which reinforces what they learn at college and need in the industry. They also get to travel and meet people from other parts of the country, visit shows and events so it’s a great opportunity to build their CV, as well as being a tremendous source of personal achievement and pride.”

It’s not only the students and colleges who benefit too as Robbie explained:

“It’s also great for chefs and businesses outside college to see that our students have experienced and thrived in the pressure of professional kitchens under tight timelines. Working within a budget and producing beautiful food, communicating and working as a team all help students thrive in industry and become real assets in the kitchen.”

Robbie is already looking forward to the challenge of retaining the title next year and hopes the press and prestige around the win can help attract more students to enrol, compete and take advantage of City of Glasgow’s incredible catering facilities.

Country Range Student Chef Challenge Semi-Finalists Announced

The top 16 teams have been chosen for the semi-finals of the Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2018.

With the deadline for entries now passed and the standard once again incredibly high, the following 16 teams have been announced as the Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2018 semi-finalists:Loughborough College

City of Liverpool College

City College Norwich

Ayrshire College

Newcastle College

City of Glasgow College

Westminster Kingsway

SERC (Downpatrick) College

Newbury College

Gloucestershire College

University of Derby

College of West Anglia

Highbury College

Waltham Forrest

East Kent College

North East Scotland College

The semi-finals will take place on three dates in January with ten teams qualifying for the Live Grand Final at Hotelympia 2018 on the 7th March.

The semi-finalists will cook off in intense competition conditions under the watchful eye of Craft Guild of Chefs Chairman of Judges Chris Basten and challenge organiser Emma Holden of the Country Range Group.

Now in its 24th year, the annual Country Range Student Chef Challenge has become the pinnacle for full-time hospitality college students looking to develop skills and showcase their culinary prowess and creativity.

The challenge requires each team of three students to develop and cook a three-course, three-cover menu in 90 minutes. This year’s theme is ‘Around the World in Three Spices’ with teams having to use a different fresh or ground spice in each of their courses.

The successful teams will win the right to compete in the Live Grand Final which will take place on Wednesday 7th March 2018 between 11:00am – 12:30pm in front of an exhibition audience at Hotelympia 2018 – the UK’s largest foodservice and hospitality event.

In addition to taking home the much-coveted title, the three victorious students will each win a bespoke set of three Flint & Flame knives, a trip to the 2018 Universal Cookery & Food Festival, Westlands, in September 2018 and they will be treated to one night’s accommodation and dinner at Michelin-starred restaurant Simpsons in Kenilworth.

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

“The standard of entrants this year has been remarkably high and the menus put forward by the student chefs sound absolutely delicious so I’m very excited to see the finished dishes and try the food. The paper judging standard increases every single year so it’s now up to the teams to deal with the pressure and ensure they can do the menus and ingredients they have chosen justice.”

Chris Basten, Craft Guild of Chefs Chairman of Judges, commented:

“Spice themes always ensure creativity so it’s brilliant to see such innovative uses of different spices across the menus. Balancing spices in dishes is a tough skill so it’s obvious a lot of testing and preparation has been put into the applications. Congratulations to everyone who applied as each and every application had merit but unfortunately only 16 can make it through so a well done to them.”

www.countryrangestudentchef.co.uk