The Craft Guild of Chefs is launching an appeal for mentors in its Graduate Awards scheme. The Guild is calling on established chefs to get behind the young talent in their kitchens and support them in working towards one of the industry’s most impressive accolades.

Since the Graduate Awards began in 2003, just 48 graduates have achieved the pass mark, making it a very select group of talented chefs who hold the achievement.

Steve Munkley, vice-president of the Craft Guild of Chefs, explained how having a strong, supportive mentor can make all the difference to a young chef’s chances of becoming a graduate: “In the first instance, even just the nomination can provide a massive confidence boost for a young chef as it really shows how much you believe in them and recognise their potential. So, don’t wait to be asked to be a mentor, be proactive and encourage a young chef in your kitchen to enter the Graduate Awards.

“When it comes to helping them through the examination process, the simple truth is that the chefs who’ve put the most effort in will be the most successful. A supportive mentor who sets aside time to help a young chef or even adapts the menu to allow them to practice with a particular ingredient, will really be giving their chances a huge boost.”

This year’s chair of examiners Russell Bateman was keen to add that being a mentor came with its own benefits, he commented: “Being a mentor to a young chef entering the Graduate Awards is incredibly rewarding and brings with it a lot of recognition. That’s why we also have the Mentor Award, to acknowledge those senior chefs who really get behind their mentees and inspire them.”

To coincide with the call for mentors, Russell Bateman has worked closely with the Craft Guild of Chefs to compile what he believes are the five biggest benefits senior chefs can expect from being a mentor.

1. Your chance to take an active role in raising industry standards
Talk of the skills gap is widespread in the industry. The Graduate Awards seek to address this with a heavy focus on skills, including butchery, fishmongery and new for this year, pastry. By mentoring a chef and helping them develop these skills, you really will be making a difference to the future of the profession and raising industry standards. The young chefs in your kitchen are the future of this industry.

2. You’ll have a stronger team in your own kitchen
The young chefs who take part in the Graduate Awards learn so much. Whether they go on to meet the pass mark or not, they all come away with enhanced skills and improved knowledge. Helping a young chef in your kitchen through the process will ultimately mean you’ll have a stronger more competent team working for you.

3. Recognition and positive PR for you and your restaurant
Having a young chef on your staff who meets the Graduate Award standard is a real accolade and one that will not go without recognition. The profile of your restaurant will be raised as part of the PR campaign surrounding the Graduate Awards. Plus, many previous finalists have gone on to win Young National Chef of The Year and that really attracts industry and media attention for your establishment.

4. You’ll become a better leader
Previous mentors have all said how fulfilling they found the role and how much it taught them about themselves as leaders. By mentoring a young chef through the entry process, you’ll learn a lot about how to get the best from someone and come away with valuable leadership skills to take back to the kitchen.

5. You could come away with a coveted award
The Craft Guild is keen to recognise the important contribution that mentors make. By mentoring a young chef in the Graduate Awards you have the chance to be named as the winner of the Mentor Award, which will be announced at a glittering awards event in September.

The Graduate Awards are open for entries now from chefs under the age of 23 and mentors are being actively encouraged to encourage the young chefs in their kitchen to enter before the closing date on 6th May 2016. More information on entering can be found on the Guild’s website