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Craft Guild Graduate Awards ready to roll
All that kneading, knife sharpening and knuckling down will pay off handsomely for a handful of young chefs who make the grade at this year's Craft Guild of Chefs' Graduate Awards.
Launched in 2003 to formally recognise a young working chef’s culinary excellence, the Awards have gone from strength to strength, testing the knowledge and skills of chefs 23 years of age or under in a series of culinary challenges in a high pressured environment.This year’s graduates will not only gain new skills and an industry recognised achievement on their CV, but a host of prizes including study tours to Luxembourg and a Scottish fish farm.The highest achiever will also receive a surprise educational trip, while mentors and employers will also be rewarded for the time and effort taken to train their protégés.Top achiever of last year’s Awards Selin Kiazim, who took the examination as a trainee at Westminster Kingsway College, has not looked back since earning the title. She is now working with renowned New Zealand chef Peter Gordon at Providores in London, an achievement she partially attributes to her Graduate Achiever status.Demonstrating how tough it actually is, only two others successfully passed the 2008 exam, James Baker from British Airways, Waterside, and Adam Harrison from Oulton Hall in Leeds.Another Graduate Awards success story is Sophie Wright, also a former Kingsway student, who passed in 2006 and went on to work at Beach Blanket Babylon in Notting Hill.She has not only written her own cook book, Easy Peasy, but appeared on TV shows such as Daily Cooks and Food Poker with plans for a programme in the Pacific, is launching her own branded equipment with Churchill China and does consultancy work for Electrolux Professional.“Competitions of this calibre put you in the right stride,” she said. “It isn’t about acclaim, it’s about preparing yourself. The amount of publicity was phenomenal. It stood me in good stead for the book, the TV work etc – a young female doing well within the industry.”To make it more accessible to contenders across the UK, this year’s Graduate Awards will for the first time include an additional southern regional heat to accompany the northern round.Up to 30 candidates based on strength of entry and mentor’s reference will be chosen to compete in the exam style heats. If they are good enough, they will go on to the final cooking test at Westminster Kingsway College where, to pass, finalists must score more than 85%.The deadline for this year’s entries is 10th April (chefs do not have to be members of the Craft Guild), with first round heats at Birmingham College of Food Technology and Tourism and London Thames Valley University on 9th July.Successful finalists will take the final test at Westminster Kingsway College on 4th September, with this year achievers announced at an Awards Luncheon on Monday 7th September.Nick Vadis, chairman of the Craft Guild, said they were looking forward to discovering new rising stars. “To be judged by your peers can be quite daunting and we are on the edge of our seats to find out exactly what untapped talent lies out there.”Ingredients will be supplied (Chefs must bring own knives and small equipment). Assistance will be given to chefs with special needs.For more information, call Suzanne on 020 8948 3870 or email email@example.comThe Graduate Awards are sponsored by Bel Foodservice,CCS, James Knight of Mayfair, Johnson Diversey, Justerini & Brooks, The London Meat Co, Pommery Champagne, Reynolds, Royal Garden Hotel, Savoy Educational Trust, Villeroy & Boch and Worshipfull Company of Cooks.Awards process Initial SelectionSelection based on entry form and mentor’s referenceRegional Heat (eligible candidates notified by 29th April)Test of knowledge and skillsPractical skills in butchery and fishmongeryMystery basket for a main course meal for fourPreparation of pastry dish(Feedback sheets will be produced for all candidates and all participants receive a certificate)Final (finalists notified by 22nd July)Test of knowledge and skills similar to regional heat plus preparation of a classical dishThe AwardsAll finalists awarded:· Personalised chef’s jacket· One year’s Graduate Membership of the Craft Guild of Chefs· Bottle of Pommery Champagne· Culinary equipmentGraduate Achievers also awarded:· Framed Certificate· Study tour of Villeroy & Boch china factory in Luxembourg· Trip to a Scottish fish farm arranged by James Knight· *Surprise educational trip for the highest achieverMentor’s Award:· One year’s membership of the Craft Guild of Chefs· Mentor’s framed certificate· Bottle of Pommery ChampagneEmployer’s Award:· Employer’s trophy for excellence in training· Bottle of Pommery Champagne