The exam, created by The Royal Garden Hotel executive head chef Steve Munkley in 2002, is one of the toughest in the business and only 48 finalists have ever passed.
Contestants must tackle a theory paper, butchery and fishmongery tests and create a ‘mystery basket’ dish, classic main course and dessert.
The 2016 competition sees Russell Bateman, former National Chef of the Year and head chef at Collettes Restaurant, take over as Chair of Examiners.
Bateman said “Being asked to be the Chair of Examiners was a proud moment for me. We hear so much about lack of skills or a shortage of chefs coming through colleges but I believe the Graduate Awards provide an opportunity to really improve skills.”
This year’s competition also sees the launch of the first Pastry Graduate Award.
Chefs will need to submit a paper entry and complete a series of skills tasks. The final exam will challenge entrants to create a dessert using a mystery basket of ingredients and serve their own interpretation of a classic dessert.
Munkley said: “I’ve been thinking about creating a Pastry Award for some time as it’s an area which is often talked about in terms of a shortage of skills and new chefs.
“The Guild is constantly looking for ways to entice young people to be part of our industry and showcase the talent that’s out there so it’s important that we give them opportunities to shine like this.”
Chefs under the age of 23 have until 6 May to complete an entry form.
Bateman said: “My plea to head chefs around the UK is to encourage young chefs to enter as whatever level they achieve, a huge amount is gained from the experience.”
For more information on entering the awards visit the Guild’s website at http://craftguildofchefs.org/cgoc-competitions-landing/graduate-awards.