The Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2023 came to a thrilling conclusion at the Hotel, Restaurant & Catering (HRC) Show at Excel in London on Tuesday March 21st with a trio of promising young chefs from Westminster Kingsway College claiming the prestigious title and glory.
Marta Sagan, George Oakes and Jack Georgiou triumphed in the live final under the watchful eyes of the Craft Guild of Chefs’ judges with their flavour-packed menu, high-level cookery techniques and all-round teamwork and organisation. Students from Loughborough College came a close second place, with the team from Ayrshire College claiming third spot. Competing against four other colleges from around the UK Westminster Kingsway’s talented trio, who were under the guidance of lecturer Norman Fu, had to recreate their three-course, four-cover menu within 90 minutes in front of a live theatre audience.
Westminster Kingsway College’s winning menu
Starter. Deep Fried Guacamole, Guacamole Garnish, Leche de Tigre shot
Main. Ras El Hanout Breast of Squab, Squab Pastilla, Chargrilled Tenderstem Broccoli, Ful Medames, Pomegranate Jus.
Dessert. Cherry Ripe Tim Tan
As well as claiming the prestigious Country Range Student Chef Challenge crown, Marta, George and Jack also won a Flint & Flame knife, an overnight stay and meal at a Michelin star restaurant, and the opportunity to experience working at the same restaurant.
Speaking after the victory, George Oakes said: “It feels absolutely amazing to have won and we’re all still in shock. It was definitely a tough challenge but we were really pleased with the dishes we put out so winning is just brilliant. It was great working as team and we’ve all grown close throughout the process so sharing the moment together is extra special. I’m not sure it will sink in for a while that we’ve won!”
Norman Fu, lecturer of the winning team, commented: “I’m so happy and proud of the team for winning and I’m sure this is only the beginning for them as they are all very talented young chefs. It can be a pressurised kitchen to cook in with the audience and judges watching your every move but they handled it excellently and have been rewarded with the ultimate prize.”
The Craft Guild of Chefs Results
In addition to competing for the Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2023 title, all the finalists were also graded by the Craft Guild of Chefs to international judging standards with Gold, Silver, Bronze and Merit certificates awarded. The full list of Craft Guild of Chefs awards was awarded as follows:
- Ayrshire College – Silver
- Cambridge College – Merit
- Loughborough College – Silver
- Westminster Kingsway College – Gold
- West Suffolk College – Merit
The Loughborough College team also won the accolade of winning the Country Range Student Chef Team Competition Hygiene Award.
Speaking after the live final, Head Judge of the Country Range Student Chef Challenge Chris Basten said; “A huge congratulations to the Westminster Kingsway College team on their victory in what was a highly competitive final. The judges were unanimous in their praise of the students dishes which were full of flavour, creativity and skill. To cook and present food of that quality under competition conditions in front of an audience is remarkable so all they should be really proud of themselves.”
Building on the Success of the 2023 Country Range Student Chef Challenge
Country Range Group Marketing Manager and Challenge Organiser Graham Caldwell commented; “The standard on show in the final was fantastic with some amazing dishes served up by all the students. Competitions like the Country Range Student Chef Challenge are vital in demonstrating to students what can be achieved from a career in hospitality and I think the chefs showed everyone that the future of our culinary industry is in very safe hands.”
Run in collaboration with the Craft Guild of Chefs the Country Range Student Chef Challenge has been running for over 25 years and is the greatest test for teams of three full-time hospitality and catering students. For more information on the challenge, previous events and how you can get involved in future competitions visit the dedicated Country Range Student Chef Challenge website.