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New City College Crowned Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2022 Champions

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 have been crowned winners of the prestigious Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2022.

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.

Competing against seven other colleges from around the UK, the talented student chefs had to recreate their menus and present them to the Craft Guild of Chefs judges within 90 minutes in front of a live theatre audience cheering them on.

As well as claiming the prestigious Country Range Student Chef Challenge title, the New City College team were also awarded gold standard from the HRC. The team from Hertford Regional College finished in second place (silver standard) and the trio from Loughborough College took third (silver standard).

New City College’s winning menu consisted of:


Seeded tuile, avocado and spinach purée and smoked salmon

Teriyaki marinated smoked eel sushi roll

Potato farl, chive mousse, smoked trout and cucumber pearls


Poached breast of guinea fowl with mousseline, braised leg and leek croquette, wild mushroom and braised barley, shallot purée, pea purée, crispy shallots, buttered petit pois, wild mushroom and guinea fowl jus


Chocolate and orange tartlet, orange streusel, vanilla and orange ice cream, poached orange, orange and Cointreau sauce

Paulo Dela Cruz said:

“The experience was terrifying in parts but a lot of fun at the same time. On arrival, we all put on a brave face but inside we were so nervous. However, as soon as we got into the kitchen our team spirit clicked in, the nerves disappeared and it was actually a lot of fun. To take the trophy home is just a dream come true.”

Sam Paoli added: 

“I’m absolutely speechless and can’t believe this has happened. We tried our dishes after and we all thought they were the best we had produced so we were happy enough but to win is just incredible.”  

Maria V Carbone continued:

“I’m not sure it has sunk in yet – it’s just amazing. We had been practising hard every week since October so it’s great that our dedication definitely paid off. I think the key to our success was keeping calm and not panicking. As a team, we have spent a lot of time together so we always felt in control but to win a prestigious competition like this is just fabulous!” 

Winning lecturer Jeff Mason said:

“I’m totally blown away and quite emotional to be honest. I’m just so happy for the trio as they have put in a huge amount of effort and have worked and supported each other so closely. They’re a huge credit to the me, the college and London, and I have no doubt they have big careers in hospitality ahead of them.” 

Craft Guild of Chefs Chairman of Judges Chris Basten said:

“A huge congratulations to the New City College team on a marvellous and deserving victory. Each dish on their menu was well-executed, flavour-packed and showed real skill and creativity. To come to the Hotel, Restaurant & Catering Show’s kitchens for the first time and cook to that standard is a fantastic achievement and one which all three of the chefs should be extremely proud of.”

Country Range Group Head of Marketing and Challenge Organiser Emma Holden said:

“Well done to the team at New City College for coming out on top in the Challenge. It was an intense final and the standard on show from all the chefs was terrific. All finalist teams should be extremely proud of reaching the finals which is a fantastic achievement in itself.”

Country Range Student Chef Challenge

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. 

The teams, each made up of three talented young chefs from colleges around the UK, had to devise a delicious three-course menu consisting of smoked fish canapes, a guineafowl main course and a tart with a crumble topping for dessert. 

The applications had to include the full menus with recipes and costings, methodology showing menu development and images of the dishes they devised.

In addition to the glory of winning and their certificates and medals, the successful team in 2022 also received the following prizes:

  • An overnight stay and meal at a Michelin star restaurant
  • A stage working and learning what Michelin-level cooking is all about
  • A free media publicity campaign around the winners, their dishes and the college
  • Each of the team members received a Country Range Student Chef Challenge engraved Flint & Flame knife
  • The winning lecturer and the two runner-up teams also received special Flint & Flame knives

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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.

Website: Facebook/Twitter/Instagram: @countryrangeuk

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