With the judging now complete and the standard once again incredibly high, the following 16 teams have been announced as the Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2018 semi-finalists:

  • Ayrshire College
  • City of Liverpool College                                 
  • City College Norwich
  • City of Glasgow College
  • College of West Anglia
  • East Kent College
  • Gloucestershire College
  • Highbury College
  • Loughborough College      
  • Newbury College
  • Newcastle College
  • North East Scotland College
  • SERC (Downpatrick) College                           
  • University of Derby                          
  • Waltham Forrest
  • Westminster Kingsway

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.”

About Country RangeWith 25 years of heritage servicing the UK’s innovative foodservice sector, Country Range is the leading independent foodservice brand and now offers over 850 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.

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