Spring 09 - Graduate with pride

12/04/2013 11:04
Hard work and preparation will pay off for young chefs who take part in the examinations for this year’s Graduate Awards.

Launched in 2003 to formally recognise a young working chef’s culinary excellence, the examinations that culminate in the Graduate Awards presentation 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 as well as culinary equipment.

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. The 2008 top achiever 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.

There are many Graduate Awards success stories. Sophie Wright is just one of them – a former Westminster Kingsway student, who passed in 2006 and went on to work at Beach Blanket Babylon in Notting Hill, and has since gone on to launch her own food consultancy company offering her skills to a number of high profile companies such as Electrolux.

This year’s Graduate Awards will for the first time include an additional southern regional heat to accompany the northern round to make it more accessible to contenders across the UK – and these chefs do not have to be Craft Guild members to enter.

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 finalists must score more than 85% to pass.

In the regional heats these young chefs will be tested on their knowledge as well as practical skills in butchery and fishmongery, plus they will have to create a main course meal for four from a mystery basket of ingredients and prepare a pastry dish.

It is also not just the students that come under the spotlight but employers and mentors too. The employer who offers the most advice and assistance in the preparation of their candidate for the examinations will receive the Graduate Awards employer’s trophy for excellence in training.

The first round heats at University College Birmingham and London’s Thames Valley University take place on July 9. Successful finalists will be notified by July 22 as to whether they take the final test at Westminster Kingsway College on September 4. Then following on from these exams, this year’s achievers will be announced at a special awards luncheon on September 7.

Craft Guild chairman Nick Vadis says the Guild is 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.”

The deadline for this year’s entries is April 10 2009. Entry forms are available from www.craftguildofchefs.org but for more information, call the Craft Guild head office on 0208 948 3870 or email craftguild@btconnect.com

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