The Guild has asked that mentors encourage young chefs in their kitchens and proactively help them to recognise their achievements. This is itself will be rewarding for the senior chef involved, the Guild added, and could see them become eligible for the Mentor Award, which celebrates this achievement.
The Graduate Awards are now open for entries to all chefs aged under 23, with the closing date on 6 May. All successful entrants who reach the pass mark are awarded the accolade, but the contest is notoriously tough, with just 48 graduates having achieved the standard since the awards began in 2003.
Chair of examiners Russell Bateman explained that becoming a mentor would allow senior chefs to take a key role in raising industry standards and improving key skills such as butchery. It could also help to strengthen chefs’ own kitchens, he said, as the young chefs who take part in the Graduate Awards are very likely to learn new skills, even if they are not successful in achieving the award at that time.
Taking part is also likely to increase recognition for chefs’ own skills and restaurant, and improve their leadership skills, the Craft Guild said. It could also make chefs eligible for its Mentor Award, the winner of which is set to be announced at an awards ceremony in September.
Steve Munkley, vice-president of the Craft Guild of Chefs, said: “When it comes to helping them through the examination process, the simple truth is that the chefs who’ve put the most effort in will be the most successful. A supportive mentor who sets aside time to help a young chef or even adapts the menu to allow them to practice with a particular ingredient, will really be giving their chances a huge boost.”
Bateman added: “Being a mentor to a young chef entering the Graduate Awards is incredibly rewarding and brings with it a lot of recognition.”
Entrants to the Graduate Awards must send a paper entry, before taking part in hears, skills tests, and final examination including a theory paper, butchery and fishmongery tasks, a classic main course and dessert, plus a recipe from a ‘mystery basket’.
Previous graduates have gone on to win the Young National Chef of the Year Award, as well as gain Michelin stars and work at some of the world’s best restaurants.