Eighteen chefs in all gathered in Birmingham and London last Thursday to take part in the regional finals where they were tasked with making a dish for four people from a recipe they had prepared earlier in the competition and which included spring chicken, veal heart sweetbreads and cauliflower.
Judges, who included Michel Roux Jr, Brian Turner, James Martin and Andrew Fairlie, also presented candidates with a mystery box of ingredients to make a dessert. Competitors were only allowed to omit one ingredient from the list which included caster sugar, milk, eggs, double cream, butter, pink grapefruit, gelatine, banana and flaked almonds.
Roux Jr said the dessert results had been the deciding factor in choosing who would go through to the final on 2 April at Westminster Kingsway College.
“Everyone did a great job with their main courses but it was the desserts that let some of them down. I am looking for organisation and simplicity, the food has got to look good and taste even better, and that's what defined the winners," he said.
"This year's mystery box was a challenge, we gave them lots of ingredients. Even we, as judges all came up with different things and had different takes on what we would do. Some of the competitors tried to be too complex and come up with three things on the plate, which was a step too far and you could see they changed their minds as they went along.”
The final six chefs going through to the last stage of the competition are:
- Edward Attwell, Loves Restaurant, Birmingham
- Quinton Bennett, The Arch, London
- Arbinder Dugal, Le Pont De La Tour, London
- Pramod Ghadge, Catlin Underwriting Agencies Ltd, Harbour & Jones, London
- Robert Hutchins, Rudding Park Hotel, Harrogate
- Adam Smith, The Ritz, London
In the final, finalists will be given a recipe and ingredients for a main dish 30 minutes before the start of the competition which they will be asked to prepare and present to judges for the chance to win the prestigious title and a three month stage in a triple Michelin-starred restaurant anywhere in the world.