This year 14 of the 18 chefs are first-time applicants, and the line-up includes the first female regional finalist since 2015.
Candidates were chosen based on their paper applications and written recipes, which were judged blind by chefs including Alain Roux, Michel Roux Jr, Clare Smyth and Brian Turner.
Applicants had to create a recipe to serve four people using one short saddle of hogget, weighing between 1.8kg and 2.2kg (bone-in, breast removed, without kidneys) and using four hogget kidneys (whole, suet removed); together served plated with two garnishes/accompaniments.
One must include potato rösti and the other can be a garnish/accompaniment of their choice. A sauce must accompany the dish.
For the regional finals, held simultaneously on 14 March, the chefs will have two and a half hours to cook their dish, along with a dessert from a mystery box of ingredients given to them on the day.
The national final will take place in London on 1 April.
The chefs competing in Birmingham
Scott Braithwaite, L’Enclume, Cartmel, Cumbria
Scott Dineen, BaxterStorey Fine Dining, London
Adam Harper, The Cavendish Hotel at Baslow, Derbyshire
Spencer Metzger, The Ritz, London
Curtis Tonge, The Chester Grosvenor, Cheshire
Ricki Weston, Whatley Manor, Gloucestershire
Judges: Alain Roux, Brian Turner CBE, Angela Hartnett MBE, Simon Hulstone (2003 scholar).
The chefs competing in London
Ryan Baker, The Ritz, London
Jordan Bayes, Tuddenham Mill, Newmarket, Suffolk
Bence Burai, Texture Restaurant, London
Olivia Catherine Burt, Claridge’s, London
Michael Cruickshank, Bohemia, Jersey
Oliver Dovey, BaxterStorey Fine Dining, London
Patrick Frischknecht, The Clove Club, London
Ben Hobson, Galvin at Windows, London
Lewis Linley, Vacherin, London
Yiannis Mexis, Hide, London
Samuel Nash, L’Enclume, Cartmel, Cumbria
Luke Sutton, The Woodspeen, Newbury, Berkshire
Judges: Michel Roux Jr, Rachel Humphrey, James Martin, Sat Bains (1999 scholar), André Garrett (2002 scholar).
There are two chefs in reserve (should any finalists not be able to compete):
Tim Kendall, Idle Rocks Hotel, Cornwall
Andrew Sleath, Restaurant 22, Cambridgeshire