The North West Young Chef competition, organised by Essential Cuisine, has undergone a radical format change, in recognition of the region's importance to the talent pipeline.
The format will now comprise just two semi-finals, held at Warrington College (5 April) and Kendal College (11 April), with chefs from multiple regions squaring off in the cook-offs.
One winner and one runner-up from each semi will be sent through on merit, with judges choosing two further wildcard picks to compete in a six-person final, to be held at Manchester College in May 2017.
Alongside the title and £500 prize money, the win also brings with it an automatic seed into the semi-finals of The Craft Guild of Chef's Young National Chef of the Year competition (YNWYC).
Jonathan Harvey-Barnes, senior business development chef for Essential Cuisine and YNWYC judge, commented: "The changes will add a new, more vibrant dimension to an already tough competition, and reflects the breadth of talent we have been lucky to have experienced in the past few years.
Essential Cuisine's North West Young Chef Competition calls on chefs aged 23 or under, to produce a restaurant quality, three-course meal for two with an emphasis on the very best of local and seasonal produce.