From education to employment

Country Range Student Chef Challenge Glory to Michelin Kitchen

After helping New City College triumph in the Country Range Student Chef Challenge earlier this year and then securing a place at Michelin-starred Frog in London, Maria Carbone is urging the next generation of student chefs to enter the prestigious challenge and enhance their kitchen career prospects.

Based in Stratford, London, 18-year-old Maria was one third of the talented New City College trio who wowed judges and took the Country Range Student Chef Challenge by storm in March earlier this year. 

After helping New City College take the prestigious title for the first time, Maria has made the most of the triumph and plaudits that followed and secured a place in Adam Handling’s Michelin-starred restaurant Frog in September.

Maria Carbone said:

“It’s been an utterly amazing year with so much happening and so many positives. Competing in and winning the Country Range Student Chef Challenge was the absolute pinnacle and definitely played a big role in preparing me for not just for any professional kitchen but a Michelin-starred kitchen.”

“The competition teaches you the importance of practising, attention to detail and teamwork, while also providing a real taste of the pressure chefs are under each and every day in fast-paced kitchens. The whole experience and, of course, winning was also a huge boost to my confidence and made me realise I could succeed at the very top of the hospitality industry. For all those student chefs deliberating on whether to enter, you have to go for it as the opportunities to grow, improve and find work are endless.” 

The Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2023 launched on the 1st September. The closing date for entries has been extended and is on the 16th December 2022. 

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

A paper judging stage will take place in December with regional heats beginning in January 2023 before the Grand Final held at Hotel, Restaurant & Catering Show at Excel in London on Tuesday 21st March 2023.

The victorious team will win a Flint & Flame 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 a set of Flint & Flame knives. 

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

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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