For the first time since its launch four years ago, semi-finals will be held to decide the final line up of chefs competing for the title of Young National Chef of the Year, in partnership with Knorr.
Previously, eight winners of some of the contests open to young chefs were automatically selected by the Guild to take part in the live final at The Restaurant Show.
However, this year just four chefs who win competitions held by the British Culinary Federation, the Academy of Culinary Arts Awards of Excellence, North West Young Chef of the Year and WorldSkills will automatically qualify for the final.
Four further finalists, aged 18-23, will be decided by two semi-finals held in Sheffield and London in June and July. Up to 20 young chefs from industry-wide competitions will be invited to compete in the new heats.
Announcing the new format, David Mulcahy, organiser of the competition and vice-president of the Craft Guild of Chefs, said: “When we first launched the title, we selected winners of eight of the biggest competitions in the UK to build up interest and give us the chance to work more closely with associations and groups and their individual events.
"Last year, however, regional development agencies and other bodies started asking if they could get involved. By working with Knorr and holding two semi-finals, with up to 20 young chefs getting the chance to compete, we are able to open up the competition to more of the UK’s emerging culinary stars."
Last year's title was scooped by Ben Murphy, chef de partie at Pierre Koffmann's London restaurant. At the time, Murphy told BigHospitality he would love to use the title as a springboard to further success such as competing in National Chef of the Year or for a Roux Scholarship.
This year, Mark Sargeant, winner of the 2006 National Chef of the Year title, will be an ambassador to the contest for young chefs. He will be helping the candidates as they compete for a package of prizes including study trips.