The competition has proved a powerful stepping stone for previous winners, who are automatically entered into the National Young Chef of the Year 2012.
The winners of the last two competitions - http://www.essentialcuisine.com." target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">Andrew Postelthwaite ](http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/15/06/2011/338733/Cumbrian-cook-wins-Essential-Cuisine-North-West-Young-Chef.htm)of the Castle Green hotel in Kendal and Tom Lee of Liverpool's London Carriage Works- both went on to become runners-up in the national contest while 2008 winner, Simon Salt, appeared as a contestant in BBC Masterchef: The Professionals.
"Entering the North West Young Chef of the Year competition is a worthwhile and valuable opportunity to have your talents recognised and rewarded," said Postelthwaite. "Being a runner-up in 2010 gave me the confidence and determination to return and go one better in 2011."
This year's competition - sponsored by catering stocks and sauces specialist Essential Cuisine - is open to all young chefs and college trainees living in Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside, Cheshire and Cumbria.
They will be asked to cook a three-course meal for two using North western seasonal produce costing up to £25.
The winners of the five regional heats will battle it out in a finale next June to win a week-long bursary in a top European restaurant and a position in the national contest.
To enter, call 01606 541490 or visit [www.essentialcuisine.com. The deadlines are mid-February (for the Cumbria heat) and mid-March for the remaining four heats.
Other sponsors of this year's contest include the Lakes Hospitality Association, the Staff Canteen, Oliver Harvey, Taste NW, Villeroy & Boch, and Chroma Knives.
North West Young Chef 2012 heats
Cumbria: 6 March, Kendal College
Merseyside: 17 April, St Helen's College
Greater Manchester: 24 April, Manchester College - Fielden Campus
Cheshire: 26 April, South Cheshire College
Lancashire: April (date to be confirmed), Blackpool and Fylde College