From education to employment

Chris Basten Highlights Benefits of Entering the Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2023 

With the hospitality industry crying out for more skilled chefs due to huge shortages, Lead Judge Chris Basten is urging students to enter the Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2023 to truly test themselves and ensure they have the skills and experience to fit seamlessly into a team in a professional kitchen. 

Basten, who himself has taken part in and judged countless culinary competitions throughout his professional career, believes competitions such as the Country Range Student Chef Challenge are vital for aspiring chefs as they not only help make you a better planner, team player and all-round cook, but also prepare you and give you a valuable insight into life in a fast-paced kitchen.  

This 2023 Challenge launched on the 1st September and is now open for entries. Chris Basten commented:  

“I’ve been fortunate enough to have taken part in a number of culinary competitions so I can’t speak more highly about the benefits for aspiring chefs. It’s hard to replicate what a busy kitchen is like so it can still be a big shock to students when they leave and take up their first roles. Competitions like the Country Range Student Chef Challenge give students that extra level of skill, experience, understanding, confidence and can help them hit the ground running as they embark on their careers as chefs.” 

Chris Basten continued: 

“It’s a real shame that our industry is facing a skills shortage because I know first-hand how rewarding a career in catering can be. Unfortunately, Brexit and the pandemic has meant the industry has lost a lot of skilled cooks so competitions such as the Country Range Student Chef Challenge are even more important now to bring through that next generation. I’d urge any student chef looking to make a name for themselves in the industry to get involved with this year’s Challenge and show future employers what they can do. Trust me, the nation’s best chefs are on the look-out so there are some fantastic opportunities out there.” 

For more information on the Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2023, visit

The Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2023 

Run in collaboration with the Craft Guild of Chefs, who provide competition-standard judging and vital feedback to the students throughout the process, 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. 

The Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2023 focuses on the essential core skills and techniques that culinary students are taught in college and has been carefully designed in line with the NVQ syllabus to assess both classical and modern cooking techniques.    

Teams of three full-time student chefs studying hospital or catering courses must use their culinary nous, knowledge of flavour and teamwork abilities to devise and produce a great-tasting and skill-showing three-course, four-cover meal. This year’s theme is ‘Around the World’ encouraging students to research different countries and be inspired by various ingredients, flavours and cooking techniques from different cultures and cuisines.  

Each course focuses upon a different cuisine: 

Starter – Mexico 

Main – Africa 

Dessert – Australia 

Four portions of each will need to be produced in the live heat and final stages of the competition, if the teams are successful in reaching those stages. The dishes need to be prepared, cooked and presented to a high standard within 90 minutes.  

The deadline for entries has been set for the 30th November 2022 and application forms are available to download from 1st September 2022. A paper judging stage will take place in December with regional heats beginning in January 2023.  

The Country Range Student Chef Grand Final will be held at Hotel, Restaurant & Catering Show at Excel in London on Tuesday 21st March 2023.  

The victorious team will win a Country Range Student Chef Challenge engraved Flint and Flame Professional Chef Knife, an overnight stay and meal at a Michelin star restaurant, and a stage working with the talented team and learning what Michelin-level cooking is all about at the same restaurant.  

For the triumphant college and lecturer, winning the title will help them boost their profile as leaders when it comes to catering courses, whilst also providing them with fantastic national and regional publicity. The winning lecturer will also receive their very own engraved knife set from Flint and Flame.   

Each runner up will also receive a Country Range Student Chef Challenge engraved Flint and Flame Professional Chef Knife

The 2022 Winners 

Following an enthralling live final at the Hotel, Restaurant & Catering (HRC) Show at Excel in London on March 22nd, Sam Paoli, Maria V Carbone and Paulo Dela Cruz of New City College were crowned winners of the prestigious Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2022. 

Competing against seven other colleges from around the UK, the trio of chefs, under the guidance of lecturer Jeff Mason, triumphed under the watchful eyes of the Craft Guild of Chefs judges in intense competition conditions with their inventive and flavoursome menu, supreme cookery skills and tremendous teamwork.  

About the Country Range Group 

With over 30 years of heritage servicing the UK & Ireland’s innovative foodservice sector, the Country Range Group is made up of 12 independent wholesalers – Birchall Foodservice, Blakemore Foodservice, Caterite Foodservice, Creed Foodservice, Dunns Food and Drinks, EFG Foodservice, Harvest Fine Foods, Henderson Foodservice, Savona Foodservice, Thomas Ridley Foodservice, Trevors Foodservice and Turner Price.  

In addition to offering the leading brands from around the globe, the Group also provides over 800 products, all developed exclusively for professional caterers under the Country Range brand. 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 Group also publishes its trade magazine Stir it up 10 times a year, which features the latest food, drink and industry news, Country Range brand promotions and in-depth trend reports and sector specific guides to support and inspire all foodservice caterers. 


Facebook/Twitter/Instagram: @countryrangeuk 

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