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Country Range Student Chef Challenge names West Suffolk College as winners

Paulina Litwin, Libby Thistleton and Cecille Youngs from West Suffolk College have been crowned the winners of the 2024 Country Range Student Chef Challenge following an ‘enthralling finale’ at the HRC Show at Excel in London on the 26th March.

Under the watchful eyes of the judges and a live audience, the students recreated their three-course, four-cover menu within 90 minutes. The theme for this year’s competition was Love Local and challenged the teams to discover and showcase the best of their local area.

The trio impressed the judges with their creative, on-brief and flavour driven menu. The winning menu included:

  • Starter: Beetroot four-way tart – a savoury tart case filled with Ellingham goat’s cheese, beetroot gel, roasted beetroot, pickled beetroot and fresh sliced beetroot
  • Main: Pan seared seabass with cauliflower puree, sweated leeks, Brancaster mussels in beurre blanc, pickled shimejis and potato rosti.
  • Dessert: Choux bun with chocolate craquelin on chocolate sauce filled with marsala mascarpone cream, coffee caramel, topped with coffee and white chocolate ganache and toasted hazelnuts.

As well as claiming the Country Range Student Chef Challenge title, the trio from West Suffolk College also won a unique dining experience and opportunity to work at a Michelin starred restaurant, plus a professional knife.

Commenting on their win, Youngs said: “We’re honestly still in shock after the win and it really hasn’t sunk in yet. We’re just so happy. We didn’t really expect to win but we were delighted with the way we worked together and the dishes we put out.

“Just to know we showed off our technique, skill, coped in front of the judges and live audience, plus worked within the time limits, will give us a huge confidence boost moving forward.”

The additional time, hard work and commitment invested in the winning team by Lecturer Stuart Ascott, didn’t go unnoticed, as he received his own engraved Flint and Flame knife set.

Westminster Kingsway’s trio of April Jackson, Luca Delgado and Elliot Tyler clinched second place and the London-based college’s other team Esin Yusuf, Otylia Polczynska and Kamran Taylor took third place. The full list of International Salon Culinaire awards was awarded as follows:

  • West Suffolk College – Gold Best in Class 
  • Westminster Kingsway College – Gold
  • Westminster Kingsway College – Silver
  • Cornwall College – Silver
  • Loughborough College – Bronze
  • New College Durham – Bronze

Lead judge Chris Basten from the Craft Guild of Chefs, commented: “Once again, the standard in the Country Range Student Chef Challenge Grand Final was incredibly high so credit has to go to all of the talented students and also the lecturers who helped them prepare so professionally.

“The ‘Love Local’ theme was a lovely new element to the brief and you could see how much the students had invested in discovering the incredible ingredients on their own doorsteps. A huge congratulations to West Suffolk College who blew us all away with their teamwork skills, well-thought out menu, precision plating and, most importantly, terrific flavour.”

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