Craft Guild of Chefs celebrates 20 years of the Graduate Awards

Entries for the Graduate Awards 2022 have opened online and it’s a special year as the Craft Guild of Chefs celebrate 20 years since the first chefs received this prestigious award. Known for accelerating the careers of ambitious and talented young chefs, the Graduate Awards have seen its alumni going on to win some of the UK’s most respected culinary titles and earn Michelin Stars. With the latest addition, Luke Selby, winning his first Star last month.

Chefs who enter this year will enjoy a whole host of celebrations during their journey including mentoring at every stage and the much-awaited return of the two-day learning experience. This trip includes an overnight stay at the stunning De Vere Horsley Estate.

For two decades, The Graduate Awards have been spearheaded by Steve Munkley, who is Vice-President of the Craft Guild of Chefs. He wanted to provide chefs in the early stages of their career with the opportunity to develop the skills they learnt at college and hone them for the workplace. It also provides a platform for chefs to progress to competitions such as Young National Chef of the Year. Whilst it’s an exam rather than a competition, successful chefs can take home a host of prizes ranging from culinary trips of a lifetime to products from the awards’ impressive list of sponsors.

To celebrate the big birthday, the Craft Guild of Chefs has revealed it is creating a Graduate Awards recipe book which will include delicious recipes from chefs who achieved the award back in 2002 right through to its 2021 Graduates.

Russell Bateman will continue his role of Chair of Examiners for the Kitchen exam for these 20th anniversary celebrations whilst Will Torrent will lead the Pastry Exam supported by award-winning pastry chef, Sarah Frankland of Pennyhill Park and for the first time, Master Chocolatier, Paul A Young. Steve has welcomed two former Graduates to his committee, Erin Yates and Eleanor De Maria to help generate new ideas and energy for the 20th year.

The Graduate Awards entry process is quick and simple. Chefs aged under 25 on the 1st of September 2022 are asked to complete a form and must be completed by Saturday, 30th April, 2022. The Pastry Graduate Awards are aimed at young pastry chefs, chocolatiers or level 3 students studying pastry. Entrants for both awards do not need to be members of the Craft Guild of Chefs.

Founder of the Graduate Awards, Steve Munkley said:

“Over the last 20 years, we have seen 84 people achieve the Graduate Award and I’ve enjoyed following the careers of these dedicated chefs. It’s a hard award to achieve, but every chef who goes through the different rounds learns a lot from the experience which helps their careers. Behind the scenes we are working on some exciting initiatives to make this year’s event extra special and more will be revealed as the competition unfolds.”

Russell Bateman, head chef at Castle Ashby estate’s Falcon Hotel in Northampton added:

“As a head chef myself I’m appealing to senior chefs across the industry to encourage younger team members to get involved in this award. I’ve always considered this an important event in any young chef’s career development and have put many of my own brigade through in recent years. Not only does it help them to develop their culinary skills, but you also see them grow in confidence from the semi-final to the final exam. With the mentor trip back for 2022 and a year of anniversary celebrations, there’s never been a more exciting year to get involved.”

Will Torrent, Chair of Pastry Examiners and senior brand development chef at Waitrose & Partners commented:

“There’s no better way to celebrate a special occasion than with pastries, cakes and chocolates so the Pastry Award will be extra special this year. Working alongside my fellow examiners, Sarah Frankland, Paul A Young and the rest of the team we’ve got a lot in-store for all pastry chefs, and we can’t wait to unveil our exciting brief for the semis and final exam. Whatever stage of the award you get to, you will learn from our dedicated mentors and have the chance to show the industry just how fantastic young pastry chefs are in the UK right now.”