With hundreds of culinary students left devastated after missing out on the opportunity to truly test themselves in catering competitions in 2021, we’re delighted to announce that the much-anticipated Country Range Student Chef Challenge will be back in 2022. 

Colleges with hospitality and catering courses from across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can now register their interest to receive the latest information on how to prepare and enter. 

The widely endorsed competition, which has now 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. 

Run in conjunction with the Craft Guild of Chefs, the Country Range Student Chef Challenge is seen by many as the pinnacle for catering students looking to showcase their culinary skills under intense competition conditions. 

The following prize is on offer to the winning team who take the honours in the live final held at the Restaurant & Catering Show at Excel in London on the 22nd March 2022:

  • An overnight stay and meal at a Michelin star restaurant
  • A stage working with the talented team and learning what Michelin-level cooking is all about at the same restaurant
  • A free media publicity campaign around the winners, their dishes and the college.
  • The winning lecturer and the two runner-up teams will receive special Flint & Flame knives. 

Chris Basten from the Craft Guild of Chefs, who is once again lead judge, said:

“We’ve missed it, the lecturers have missed it and by God have the students missed it so 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.” 

The 2022 Challenge

  • The Country Range Student Chef Challenge focuses on testing essential core skills and techniques.
  • It has been carefully designed in line with the VRQ syllabus in professional cookery 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. 
  • Consisting of 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.

The 2022 Challenge Schedule

  • Application forms will available from August 2021 with students and lecturers able to submit their entries online by September. 
  • The deadline for submissions is the 26th November 2021. 
  • A paper judging stage will follow in December 2021.
  • The practical regional heats will take place in late January and early February 2022.
  • The nerve-racking live final will see eight teams cook-off at the returning Hotel, Restaurant & Catering Show at Excel in London on the 22nd March 2022.

What the Students say?

“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.”

Chi-Hin Cheung, a member of the City of Liverpool winning team winner in 2020

“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.”

Andreau Talla, a member of the City of Glasgow College winning team in 2019

“Winning the student chef challenge helped me get where I am today as it gave me the courage and self-belief to go into any environment in hospitality and be confident in what I could do. I would highly recommend the competition to any student who is lucky enough to have the opportunity to enter. If you give 100% commitment it will be rewarded with so many different life skills and opportunities.”

Jordan McKenzie, a member of the City of Glasgow College winning team in 2018

What the lecturers say?

“The Country Range Student Chef Challenge isn’t just about competing – it’s an all-round, fantastic experience for the students.”

Robbie Phillips, City of Glasgow College Lecturer

“Our principal and our team are passionate about the competitions being a key part of the curriculum so the all-round competition experience and the Craft Guild of Chefs judging plays a vital role in the learning.”

Darren Creed, Loughborough College Lecturer

“Winning is great for the student’s CVs, future career prospects and the College’s culinary reputation, but they also master new skills and techniques, and meet other catering students and industry contacts along the way which will put them in good shape for the future.”

Ian Jaundoo, City of Liverpool College Lecturer