From education to employment

Country Range Student Chef Challenge Judge Chris Basten Announces Deadline Extension and Criteria Change

Chris Basten, who is lead judge of the Country Range Student Chef Challenge

With many college tutors and students struggling with heavy workloads in the lead up to Christmas, the Craft Guild of Chef’s Chris Basten has helped ease the pressure for many after announcing that the deadline for the Country Range Student Chef Challenge is to be extended until the 15th December.

A change has also been made to the Challenge’s criteria with the maximum ingredient budget being increased to £10.00 per cover (£30.00 total ingredient cost for all three covers).

Chris Basten, who is lead judge of the Country Range Student Chef Challenge, said:

“After speaking to various tutors around the UK, the general consensus was that an extension to the deadline was needed in order to give as many colleges as possible the best chance of entering teams. We understand that the workload for both students and tutors has increased so hopefully the extra two weeks will help alleviate some additional stress and help them perfect their applications.”

“As for the ingredient budget, it was set at £15 to make it as realistic to industry standards as possible but after some consideration we believe that it may stifle some creativity so we have increased the maximum cap to £30. There has already been tremendous interest in the competition so we hope these changes will help teams improve their applications without causing too much inconvenience.” 

Now in its 24th year, the Country Range Student Chef Challenge is one of the most prestigious competitions in the student catering calendar and has been integral in helping young chefs move from colleges into jobs in professional kitchens including Michelin-starred restaurants.    

Emily Bucknall, part of the team that won the 2016 competition, was recently employed at Sat Bains’ Michelin-starred restaurant and finalist from the same year Sean Comiskey is about to embark to London to take up the position at Outlaw at the Capital after a stint working in the award-winning Ballyrobin Country Lodge hotel in Northern Ireland.   

Chris Basten continued:

“The Student Chef Challenge is the pinnacle when it comes to improving and testing key skills and techniques but most importantly in helping students to find work post college. Competition cooking is as close as it gets to working in a fast-paced quality restaurant kitchen and as can be seen from the success of Emily and Sean, if you have the desire and ambition to be the next Tom Kerridge, Marcus Wareing or Michael O’Hare, the Student Chef Challenge can be an incredible launch pad.”

The Country Range Student Chef Challenge

  • The challenge requires teams of three students to develop a three-course, three-cover menu in 90 minutes.
  • This year’s theme is ‘Around the World in Three Spices’.  A different fresh or ground spice has to be used in each of the courses. 
  • Teams have a maximum budget of £10.00 per cover (£30.00 worth of ingredients for all three covers).
  • For full details and to enter online visit – click here
  • Deadline for entries is the 15th December.
  • Live Regional Heats will take place at easily-accessible catering colleges between the 22nd January – Friday 8th February 2018.
  • The Live Grand Final 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.

About Country Range: With 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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