Westminster Kingsway College claim the Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2023 Title
The Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2023 came to a thrilling conclusion at the Hotel, Restaurant & Catering (HRC) Show at Excel in London on Tuesday March 21st with a trio of promising young chefs from Westminster Kingsway College claiming the prestigious title and glory.
Marta Sagan, George Oakes and Jack Georgiou triumphed in the live final under the watchful eyes of the Craft Guild of Chefs’ judges with their flavour-packed menu, high-level cookery techniques and all-round teamwork and organisation. Students from Loughborough College came close in second place, with the team from Ayrshire College claiming third spot.
Competing against four other colleges from around the UK, Westminster Kingsway’s talented trio, who were under the guidance of lecturer Norman Fu, had to recreate their three-course, four-cover menu within 90 minutes in front of a live theatre audience.
The theme for this year’s competition was ‘Around the World’, which encouraged the students to research different countries and be inspired by various ingredients, flavours and cooking techniques from across the globe. Mexico was the focus for the starter, Africa for the main, and Australia for the dessert.
Westminster Kingsway College’s winning menu consisted of:
Starter: Deep Fried Guacamole, Guacamole Garnish, Leche de Tigre shot.
Main: Ras El Hanout Breast of Squab, Squab Pastilla, Chargrilled Tenderstem Broccoli, Ful Medames, Pomegranate Jus.
Dessert: Cherry Ripe Tim Tan.
As well as claiming the prestigious Country Range Student Chef Challenge crown, Marta, George and Jack also won a Flint & Flame knife, an overnight stay and meal at a Michelin star restaurant, and the opportunity to experience working at the same restaurant.
In addition to competing for the Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2023 title, all the finalists were also graded by the Craft Guild of Chefs to international judging standards with Gold, Silver, Bronze and Merit certificates awarded. The full list of Craft Guild of Chefs awards was awarded as follows:
- Ayrshire College – Silver
- Cambridge College – Merit
- Loughborough College – Silver
- Westminster Kingsway College – Gold
- West Suffolk College – Merit
The Loughborough College team also won the accolade of winning the Country Range Student Chef Challenge Team Competition Hygiene Award.
Speaking after the victory, George Oakes said: “It feels absolutely amazing to have won and we’re all still in shock. It was definitely a tough challenge, but we were really pleased with the dishes we put out so winning is just brilliant. It was great working as team, and we’ve all grown close throughout the process so sharing the moment together is extra special. I’m not sure it will sink in for a while that we’ve won.”
Norman Fu, lecturer of the winning team, commented: “I’m so happy and proud of the team for winning and I’m sure this is only the beginning for them as they are all very talented young chefs. It can be a pressurised kitchen to cook in with the audience and judges watching your every move, but they handled it excellently and have been rewarded with the ultimate prize.”
Chris Basten, Head Judge of the Country Range Student Chef Challenge, said: “A huge congratulations to the Westminster Kingsway College team on their victory in what was a highly competitive final. The judges were unanimous in their praise of the students dishes which were full of flavour, creativity and skill. To cook and present food of that quality under competition conditions in front of an audience is remarkable so all they should be really proud of themselves.”
Graham Caldwell, Country Range Group Marketing Manager and Challenge Organiser, added: “Well done to the Westminster Kingsway College team on their deserving victory. The standard on show in the final was fantastic with some amazing dishes served up by all the students. Competitions like the Country Range Student Chef Challenge are vital in demonstrating to students what can be achieved from a career in hospitality, and I think the chefs showed everyone that the future of our culinary industry is in very safe hands.”
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 focused 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 hospitality or catering courses had to 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 was ‘Around the World’ and encouraged students to research different countries and be inspired by various ingredients, flavours and cooking techniques from different cultures and cuisines.
For more information on the Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2023, visit www.countryrangestudentchef.co.uk.
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 10 independent wholesalers – Birchall Foodservice, Blakemore Foodservice, Brook Street Foodservice, Caterite Foodservice, Creed Foodservice, Dunns Food and Drinks, Henderson Foodservice, Savona Foodservice, Trevors Foodservice and Turner Price.
In addition to offering the leading brands from around the globe, the Group also provides over 700 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.
To celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2022, The Country Range Group raised £186,190 for charity with £50K being donated to Hospitality Action and the rest being split between local charities linked with its members.