Eighteen regional finalists battled it out at heats at University College Birmingham and the University of West London yesterday (17 March) for the chance to win a place in the competition's final.
The finalists are:
- Ben Champkin, L'Enclume, Cartmel, Cumbria
- Harry Guy, Eden Hotel Collection, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire
- Paul Matthews, Fieldfisher (Vacherin), London
- Scott Dineen, Goldman Sachs (BaxterStorey), London
- Tim Peirson, Kensington Place, Kensington Church St, London
- Martin Carabott, the Royal Automobile Club, Pall Mall, London
To win a place in the final, chefs had two and a half hours to cook a recipe for four people using fresh pollock and live whole cockles with two garnishes. One of the garnishes had to include button mushrooms and a sauce had to be served with the dish.
They also had to produce a dessert from a mystery box of ingredients, which this year included honey, Braeburn apples and walnut halves.
Judges included Alain Roux, Andrew Fairlie, David Nicholls, Simon Hulstone in London and Michel Roux Jr, André Garrett and Steve Love in Birmingham.
Alain Roux said: “I could tell the chefs in London had worked really hard and practiced and it showed in the quality of the main courses we tasted. There were a wide variety of different techniques used, one or two a bit too complex and I would have liked the mushroom element to stand out more in the flavour of the dishes.
“After comparing notes with my cousin I think we’ve chosen six great contenders for an exciting final"
The six finalists will now prepare for the last stage of the competition, which takes place at Westminster Kingsway College in London on 4 April.