The search is on to find the National Chef of the Year 2011 and a successor to 2010 winner Hrishikesh Desai.
The prestigious competition, run by the Craft Guild of Chefs, will take place at the Restaurant Show in Earls Court 2, London, on Tuesday 11 October.
The competition, which has now switched to an annual format, has helped support the careers of many past winners including Gordon Ramsay, Mark Sargeant, Kevin Viner and Simon Hulstone.
Now in its 39th year, the National Chef of the Year is open to all chefs who are 23 years or older as of 1 April 2011 and who work in any sector of the catering industry. Celebrating the multicultural nature of the UK, the competition's revised format has this year divided the categories into Asian/Oriental; Modern British/European; and Rest of the World/other.
David Mulcahy, corporate events organiser for the Craft Guild of Chefs, said: "Last year's competition was a phenomenal success, the calibre of entries just seems to get stronger and stronger. We introduced categories to reflect the ethnic diversity here in the UK and it certainly went some way to reflecting the wealth of different culinary talent in this country.
"We'll definitely be carrying on in that vein again this year and we urge any chef who thinks they have what it takes to win this coveted prize to enter the competition. It's a celebration of talent, open to all, and we don't want any factor to limit a chef's chance of competing."
Every stage of the competition will feature intense scrutiny by an experienced panel of judges. Jun Tanaka, executive chef at Pearl Restaurant & Bar in London, who was one of the judges at last year's final, said: "It was a privilege to be judging the Craft Guild of Chefs National Chef of the Year competition. There are so many talented chefs in the UK and it is important that we champion these individuals. I would encourage chefs from around the country to enter this prestigious award and gain the recognition they deserve for their skills."
Advancing through the various stages of the competition will require a well thought-out menu - competitors should pay particular attention to authenticity, sourcing, seasonality, timing and wastage when creating a menu that offers maximum flavour, texture, balance and style.
Hrishikesh Desai, 2010 Winner of The National Chef of the Year, said: "I was thrilled and extremely proud to be have won the title, which I would say is one of the most prestigious events in the chef's calendar. It was a tough competition and not without its challenges - but, weirdly, it's that kind of pressure which I really enjoy. As a competitor you don't know what the judges are thinking so you have to be able to trust yourself and your own instincts.
"Next steps for me will definitely be a Master of Culinary Arts and I would love to follow in Simon Hulstone's footsteps and represent Great Britain in the Bocuse d'Or. It would be the biggest honour in my life to represent this country. Britain has given me so much - it has taken me in as a citizen and has allowed me to develop my career."
How to enter: Contestants must get their ideas down on paper for a three-course lunch menu for four people. Entries must be in by 12 May 2011. From the paper judging (10 June 2011) - 40 successful entrants will be invited to compete in one of five semi-finals to be held at prestigious culinary training centres in London, Portsmouth and Sheffield between 29 August and 16 September 2011. The winner of each semi-final will be announced on the day.
To apply for the National Chef of the Year, visit www.craftguildofchefs.org and download an application form. Alternatively, for further information contact Clair Bowman on 01293 610 329.
By Amanda Afiya
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