A group of 29 young people have reached the regional finals of the Gold Service Scholarship 2015 contest, following a judging round at Buckingham Palace.
The competition is open to restaurant service employees aged 22-30, and has been designed to inspire a new generation to see hospitality and front of house as a viable professional career. This year's entries included employees from hotels, restaurants, contract caterers, pubs, and the Royal Air Force.
The regional finals are set to take place at the University of West London on 18-19 November, and test the finalists on their knowledge of practical hospitality skills, including preparing afternoon tea, making cocktails, and recognising errors on a laid table.
The prize will include a year's worth of mentoring, the chance to work with high-profile figures in the industry, and the opportunity to tour French vineyards in Champagne, Bordeaux, and some of the world's most prestigious restaurants.
The final is set to take place at London's Connaught hotel on 2 February, with the overall winner announced on 9 February at Claridge's.
Alastair Storey, chairman of lead sponsor BaxterStorey, said: "This year the Gold Service Scholarship has attracted young people working in a huge variety of roles and businesses across the UK, truly proving the enormous breadth of opportunities which the hospitality industry has on offer. We look forward to experiencing the expertise of the entrants first hand as the competition progresses."
Willy Bauer, founder of the Gold Service Scholarship and chairman of AB Hotels, said: "It is very rewarding to see how quickly the scholarship has established itself and attracted such fantastic interest. It has helped young people see the opportunities available within the global hospitality industry."
Other judges and mentors in the competition include Edward Griffiths, deputy master of the household at Buckingham Palace, Emmanuel Landré, general manager of Le Gavroche, Fred Sirieix, general manager at Galvin at Windows, and Silvano Giraldin, director at Roux Restaurants.
Giraldin added: "We were overwhelmed by the quality of the applications and we have selected twenty-nine candidates to go to the semi-finals. These represent some of the best young people in our industry, not only from London but from all over the UK."
Last year's winner was James Fleming, chef de rang at Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat' Saisons in Oxfordshire.