The Royal Academy of Culinary Arts' Annual Awards of Excellence (AAE) 2015 is now open for entries.
Applicants must be aged between 20 and 26 on 31 December 2014, and must be currently working full-time in the UK as a chef, pastry chef or waiter. The closing date is Friday 13 February.
The awards are more like an exam rather than a competition, as all or none of the candidates can achieve the AAE depending on their ability to reach the standard of excellence set by the judges.
In addition, the candidate with the highest marks in each section will be named the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Young Chef, Young Pastry Chef, and Young Waiter 2015.
The initial selection of candidates is based on written entries, with each successful entrant then going through to the regional semi-finals in March/April, and then the finals in May/June. The final will test candidates on a wide range of skills, and all finalists will be presented with a certificate and bottle of Laurent-Perrier Champagne.
Chefs must demonstrate ability to prepare a wide variety of foods using different techniques; pastry chefs should be able to use a variety of materials including chocolate- and sugar-work; while waiters will be tested on a wide range of service skills including teamwork, food and beverage knowledge and interpersonal abilities.
All successful candidates will then be invited to the Gala Presentation Dinner in July, where they will receive a diploma recognising their achievement, a chef's jacket or lapel pin, a magnum of Champagne.
The highest scoring achievers in Kitchen, Pastry and Service will be announced on the same evening, for which the prizes worth over £2,000 include Victorinox knives, Meyer cookware, an engraved Silver trophy, and a bursary from the Savoy Educational Trust in the form of an educational, international trip.
Judges will include honorary president of the AAE 2015 and chef patron of the Fat Duck, Heston Blumenthal; chairman of the AAE and executive chef at the Ritz, John Williams; executive chef at Claridge's, Martyn Nail; chef patron at Trinity, Adam Byatt; lecturer in Patisserie at Westminster Kingsway College, Yolande Stanley; and head pastry chef at the Sheraton Park Lane hotel, Sarah Hartnett.
The event sponsors also include the City & Guilds, ACT Clean, Wegdwood, The Caterer, and the Dorchester Collection.