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Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2023/24 Opens Early for Entries 

hand preparing food

With it being more important than ever for the industry to attract and develop new culinary talent, the next instalment of the prestigious Country Range Student Chef Challenge is now open for registrations – a little earlier than usual.  

Providing lecturers and students with more time to plan, test and enter their menus ahead of the paper judging deadline on the 1st December 2023, the earlier kick-off date also helps colleges to use the competition’s prestige to recruit new students to their hospitality and catering courses during the summer months.     

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 a key part of developing culinary talent for over 25 years.   

Focusing on the essential core skills and techniques that culinary students are taught in college and carefully designed in line with the NVQ syllabus to assess both classical and modern cooking techniques, this year’s Challenge is open to teams of three student chefs studying hospitality or catering courses at college.  

Following the paper judging, regional heats will take place in early 2024 before the live Grand Final at the HRC Show at Excel in March.     

Fantastic for the CV and job prospects, the victorious students will also win a special dining experience and the opportunity working at a Michelin starred restaurant, plus a professional knife.  

For the triumphant college and lecturer, claiming the title can be a powerful way of boosting their profile as leaders when it comes to catering courses, and providing fantastic national and regional publicity.  

The Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2022/23 was won by a trio of promising young chefs from Westminster Kingsway College who delighted the judges in the live final 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. 

This Year’s Brief and Theme  

The focus for this year’s competition is “Love Local” and challenges teams to discover and showcase the best of their local area. With the world becoming more connected and global food trends often taking the headlines, it is easy to forget the wonders on our own doorsteps.  

The food culture and traditions of a local area are heavily influenced and entwined by its history, landscape, people and weather. Local food also plays a significant role in how we connect with, cherish and support our community. 

To this end, each team of three culinary students need to prepare, cook and present a three-course, four-cover menu showcasing the produce, history, heritage and culinary traditions of their local area to the below criteria: 


Vegetarian – can contain dairy and eggs. 


Seabass, one whole (suggested weight 1.2kg) can bring gutted but must be filleted as part of the competition. Served with a mollusc or bi-valve garnish, a starch, and British seasonal vegetables. 


Chocolate – at least 50% of Country Range white or dark chocolate drops must be used or a combination of both. 

Graham Caldwell, Country Range Group Marketing Manager and Challenge Organiser, said: 

“We’re thrilled to get the next edition of the Country Range Student Chef Challenge under way and by bringing the launch date forward before the colleges break up, we’re hoping to make it easier for lecturers and teams to prepare and enter. It’s imperative that we continue to support student chefs as they enter the hospitality world and show them how fantastic and rewarding a career in catering can really be.” 

Lead Judge Chris Basten from the Craft Guild of Chefs added: 

“I’m over the moon to be involved again in the next instalment of the Country Range Student Chef Challenge and am looking forward to seeing how the students approach this year’s exciting ‘Love Local’ brief. I can’t stress how important catering competitions are to young chefs looking to make a name for themselves in the industry so would advise any student with aspirations of reaching the top to get involved. It tests them on so many different levels and I believe the CRSCC is one of the best and most rewarding experiences for college catering students.” 

For further information, application forms and to enter, please visit Student Chef Challenge | Craft Guild Of Chefs Culinary Competition (  

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