Sixteen young chefs are one step closer to joining the Graduate Awards Hall of Fame, following a series of challenges held last week.
The chefs, all under the age of 23, battled for their place in the final at heats which were held simultaneously at the University of West London and University College Birmingham on 28 June.
The Kitchen and Pastry heats were watched by a panel of examiners led by chair of examiners Russell Bateman, former National Chef of the Year.
Talking about his new role, Bateman said: "It's worth mentioning the task set would test many experienced chefs but those taking part handled the challenges wonderfully well, with composure and professionalism.
"It was also fantastic to see a diversity of culinary backgrounds and experience with chefs from contract catering, hotels, restaurants and even a college student. I was extremely happy with the standard of cooking and only see bright futures for all involved."
This year, the Craft Guild of Chefs introduced a pastry examination to the Graduate Awards, with the aim of reducing the skills shortage by acknowledging talented pastry chefs.
The finalists will now take part in a mentor day, intended to prepare the chefs for the final round, where their butchery and fishmongery skills will be tested. Finalists will also be given a mystery basket in order to create a classic main course and dessert from scratch.
The pastry finalists will also be set a series of challenges.
Founder and organiser of the awards, Steve Munkley said: "I've been doing this for many years and the quality of establishments that the candidates have come from is amazing. It's possibly the best line up we have ever had with the first round scoring being very high.
"What is so special about this award is that all finalists could make the grade and with our mentor days, mentorship from employers and guidance from examiners, we'll be doing everything we can to help them achieve this."
Chefs must achieve a pass mark of 85% or above to pass the Graduate Award final exam on 30 August.
Those who make the grade will receive their award at a presentation evening at the Park Lane hotel on 6 September.
The chefs going through to the Graduate Awards 2016 final are:
Kitchen Award Ben Brooke, Galvin La Chapelle
Erin Jackson Yates, Wiltons
Jake Leach, the Ledbury
Eleanor De Maria, Compass House
Keiron McGarrigle, Westminster Kingsway College
Andre Rhone, the Bingham
Amber Francis, the Ritz
Louise Ellen Roberts, Lexington
Joseph Allen, the Woodford
Lewis Kuciers, Black Bull
Aaron Middleton, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons
Dudley Pankhurst, Cunninghams Bistro
Pastry Award Rita Souto, Park Lane Hotel
Fiona Bailey, the Dragon
Elizabeth McBride, Hix Soho
Kacey Bignell, the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
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