The Craft Guild of Chefs has increased the age limit to enter its Graduate Awards 2020 from 23 to 25.
It is hoped the move will allow chefs who start their culinary careers later or choose to gain workplace experience before undertaking the exam to participate. Chefs can take the either the kitchen or pastry exam.
The Craft Guild of Chefs vice-president and the awards founder Steve Munkley said: "It's important that awards like this are meeting the needs of young chefs and since the changes to the school system post-16 we've seen that some chefs are starting culinary training a few years later. This new age limit of 25 will give more chefs the opportunity to get involved and we hope to see some chefs who have come very close to making the grade in the past give it another go."
This year all those proceeding to the final exam will be taken on a trip to Surrey, Sussex and the south coast to visit local suppliers and take a series of masterclasses to improve their skills.
Chair of examiners Russell Bateman said: "Every year I encourage dedicated young members of my team to get involved with the Graduate Awards. As a mentor, I see them grow both personally and professionally during the process. I think the move to increase the upper age limit shows how these awards are constantly being tweaked and adapted to meet industry demand."
Entrants have until Friday 3 April to apply online. They are encouraged to include a recommendation from their head chef. The final will take place on Thursday 3 September.
The Craft Guild of Chefs is the largest UK chefs' association with members worldwide in foodservice and hospitality.