West Suffolk College wins Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2024

The winning team members with their lecturer Stuart Ascott (left) and lead judge Chris Basten from the Craft Guild of Chefs.

A team from West Suffolk College has been crowned the winner of the Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2024.

The three young student chefs – Paulina Litwin, Libby Thistleton and Cecille Youngs – were competing against teams from Loughborough College, Cornwall College, New College Durham and Westminster Kingsway and astounded the judges with their creative, on-brief and flavour-driven menu.

Westminster Kingsway’s trio of April Jackson, Luca Delgado and Elliot Tyler clinched second place and the London-based college’s other team of Esin Yusuf, Otylia Polczynska and Kamran Taylor took third place.

Under the watchful eyes of the judges and a live theatre audience, the students recreated their three-course, four-cover menu within 90 minutes. The theme for this year’s competition was Love Local.

In addition to competing for the Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2023/2024 title, all the finalists were graded by the International Salon Culinaire to international judging standards, with Gold, Silver, Bronze and Merit certificates awarded.

The winning menu consisted of:


Beetroot four-way tart – a savoury tart case filled with Ellingham goat’s cheese, beetroot gel, roasted beetroot, pickled beetroot and fresh sliced beetroot.


Pan seared seabass with cauliflower puree, sweated leeks, Brancaster mussels in beurre blanc, pickled shimejis and potato rosti.


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 team members from West Suffolk College won a unique dining experience and opportunity to work at a Michelin starred restaurant, plus a professional knife. The lecturer of the winning team, Stuart Ascott, received his own engraved Flint and Flame knife set.

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.”

Graham Caldwell, Country Range Group marketing manager and Challenge organiser, added: “It’s a day we always anticipate with excitement and this year’s Country Range Student Chef Challenge Grand Final definitely did not let us down. The skill, technique and creativity on show was truly remarkable and based on what we saw from the students, the future of the hospitality industry is in good hands.”

The Country Range Student Chef Challenge has been a key part of developing culinary talent for over 25 years. Run in collaboration with the Craft Guild of Chefs, it provides competition-standard judging and vital feedback to the students throughout the process.

The event is carefully designed in line with the NVQ syllabus to assess both classical and modern cooking techniques.

Published Date: March 28, 2024
Category: Wholesale Industry News