Judge Michel Roux Jnr said this year's competition had the highest number of entries ever with 13 finalists entering for the first time.
"It was great to see so many new faces from a wide range of different backgrounds, the 18 competitors we have selected are all strong contenders who have come up with some interesting recipes," he said.
The finalists who will battle it out at two regional heats at University College, Birmingham and at the University of West London in Ealing on 8 March are:
- Robert Hutchins, Rudding Park Hotel Harrogate
- Oliver Farrar, The Arch, London
- Jing Wang, The Plough, Coton, Cambridge
- Edward Attwell, Love’s Restaurant, Birmingham
- Christopher Rawlinson, The Red Cat Restaurant, Chorley
- Vladimir Hromek, University Centre - Riverside Restaurant, Cambridge
- Adam Smith, The Ritz, London
- Pramod Ghadge, Catlin Underwriting Agencies Ltd, Harbour & Jones, London
- Matthew Whitfield, The Montagu Arms Hotel, Beaulieu, Hampshire
- Ilias Kariotoglou, The Dining Room Restaurant, Stoke Park
- Arbinder Dugal, Le Pont De La Tour, London
- Quinton Bennett, The Arch, London
- Jonathan Boyd, Coco Restaurant, Belfast
- Kyle Jenkins, The Square, London
- Mark Charker, Ockenden Manor Hotel, Cuckfield, W Sussex
- Adam Thomason, Wykeham Arms, Winchester
- Andrew Smith, Thackery’s Restaurant, Tunbridge Wells
- Nuno Goncalves, Galvin At Windows, London
Alain Roux and Brian Turner will judge six finalists in Birmingham while Michel Roux Jnr, Andrew Fairlie, David Nicholls and James Martin will judge the remaining 12 candidates in London.
All contestants will have two and a half hours to cook a dish to the recipe they submitted and which must include spring chicken, veal heart sweetbreads, and two garnishes, one of which must be made using cauliflower.
Michel Roux Snr said: ‘I’m looking forward to being inspired by what I see on the plate and excited by some amazing flavours."
Six winners from the two heats will go through to the final which will take place at Westminster Kingsway College with the ultimate winner announced at an awards ceremony at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel the same night.