Who will become the next Craft Guild of Chefs Graduate Award winners?
Successful candidates will have to pass a number of culinary challenges in a high-pressured environment. Those that reach the final exam must achieve a score of 85% to pass.
Josh Bingham from Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons was last year’s highest achiever with a fantastic score of 90%. He said: “I entered because it felt the right time to test myself against chefs of a similar level while pushing myself to learn more and become a better chef. It was great to meet like-minded people and make new contacts during a fun, yet challenging, experience. Constructive feedback, in events like this, is the best way to learn and develop as a chef and a person.”
Praising Bingham and last year’s finalists, awards organiser and Craft Guild vice president Steve Munkley said: “In 2013 our chairman of examiners, Paul Gayler, said he was ‘astounded’ at the standard and there wasn’t a single dish he couldn’t have served to clients. We’re all really looking forward to seeing the 2014 entries.
“It’s a tough programme but these awards can really push chefs up the career ladder. Finalists will learn from some of the best chefs in the country and if successful will be able to add the prestigious title to their CV. I believe the mentor day was the main reason for last year’s high standard as every young chef got so much out of it. We’re delighted this is back for 2014.”
Chefs have until May 10 to submit their paper entries, after which a select few will be invited to take part in a regional cooking test. The tests will take place on June 11 at Sheffield College and Cardinal Wiseman School in Greenford, Middlesex. On August 28 the final exam takes place at University College Birmingham and the results will be announced at an awards ceremony on September 5 at the Landmark Hotel in London.
Claire Willett, who works at The Waterfront Restaurant at Wyboston Lakes also made the grade, and since becoming a graduate has been promoted from demi chef de partie to chef de partie. She said: “Not only have I had a promotion but it’s improved my confidence and made me a lot stronger when it comes to work. I entered these awards in 2011 and 2012 but didn’t achieve the pass mark until last year. That’s why I’d say if something means that much to you, do not give up until you achieve your goal. It meant so much more to become a graduate after so much hard work.”
As well as the Graduate certificates and highest achiever award, there is also an Employer’s Award for Excellence in Training. The Craft Guild is calling for employers who have outstanding young chefs in their kitchen to encourage them to enter.
AAK, CCS, City & Guilds, Essential Cuisine, Gram, James Knight of Mayfair, Landmark Hotel, Mars Foodservice (Uncle Ben’s), Meiko, MKN, Reynolds Catering Supplies, Robert Welch, Savoy Educational Trust, The London Meat Company, Villeroy & Boch and Warner Leisure are all sponsoring this year’s Graduate Awards.
Chefs who are 23 or under and have what it takes to impress some of the UK’s leading culinary experts should download an entry form and send their entries to the Guild. For more information, email [email protected] or call 0208 948 3870.