Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2017/18

The Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2017/18 ended with an exciting live final at Hotelympia this month (7 March), which saw City of Glasgow College crowned the reigning champion.

Run in conjunction with the Craft Guild of Chefs, the competiton sets out to find the UK’s top young culinary trio while giving full-time hospitality and catering college students the chance to showcase their culinary prowess and creativity, and develop "real life" skills and experience under intense situations.

A worthy winner, the City of Glasgow College team comprised Erin Sweeney, Jordan McKenzie and Lee Christie, who outshone the other nine finalists with their three-course, three-cover menu.

Created in just 90 minutes, using a different fresh or ground spice in each course - in accordance with this year’s ‘Around the World in Three Spices’ theme - their meal consisted:

  • Smoked and spiced roe deer, beetroot, radish, grape, hazelnut vinaigrette
  • Seared North Sea coley, cauliflower roasted pureed and marinated, seaweed, Vadouvan butte
  • Fig, coriander, salted pine nut and meringue tart with frozen blood orange yoghurt

Team member Sweeney said: “We still can’t quite believe that we’ve won but we’re completely and utterly over the moon.

“While it’s been incredibly tough, it’s literally been the best experience of my life. We’ve put in so much effort and I have lost count of the times we have practised the dishes so we’re thrilled and very proud of the victory. 

“The competition tests all the skills you need to work in a professional kitchen so having this victory on my CV will be a huge help as I look to begin a career in a professional kitchen.”

As well as the winning title, each chef took home a bespoke set of three Flint & Flame knives, a trip to the 2018 Universal Cookery and Food Festival and one night’s accommodation and dinner at Michelin-starred restaurant Simpsons (Kenilworth).

Praised for their “skills, professionalism and creativity,” Westminster Kingsway College took home second place while Northern Ireland’s South Eastern Regional College was awarded third place.

Competition organiser, Emma Holden, said: “A huge congratulations to the City of Glasgow College team on winning this year’s hotly-contested competition. Not only did Erin, Jordan and Lee show they could handle the pressure of cooking in front of a live exhibition audience, but their dishes were incredible and wowed the judges when it came to taste.

“The standard shown in this year’s competition has been amazing so a big thanks to all the teams and lecturers for all their effort.”

Craft Guild of Chefs Chairman of Judges, Chris Basten, concluded: “The standard of cooking by the students increases every year and as we expected, there were some incredible dishes and creative menus on show. 

“It’s never easy to cook a three-course, three cover menu in 90 minutes, especially in front of busy crowd, so a massive well done to all of the college teams competing today. 

“Each and every team can be proud of the achievements but well done to City of Glasgow who worked brilliantly together as a team and impressed all the judges with their well balanced, flavour-rich and beautifully presented dishes.”

Stay posted for information about the 2018/19 competition or register here: http://www.countryrangestudentchef.co.uk/what-is-the-challenge/how-to-enter/.

The new entry form will be published in the summer but you can download the 2017/18 form in the meantime to give you an idea of what the Challenge is all about: http://www.countryrangestudentchef.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Country-Range-Student-Chef-Challenge-17-18-Entry-Form-AMENDED-21.11.17.pdf

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