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 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
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
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
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
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.