The judges of the prestigious Roux Scholarship chef competition have announced the names of the 18 regional finalists set to compete for the 2014 title.
Two regional finals will now take place on 20 March - one in Birmingham and one at the University of West London, Ealing - following the announcement.
The chefs competing in Birmingham are:
Tom Barnes, L'Enclume Restaurant, Cumbria
Craig Beacham, the Elephant restaurant, Devon
Adam Jay, Murano, London
Adam Rasburn, Design House Restaurant, West Yorkshire
Dylan Owens, the Church Green, Cheshire
Richard Pascoe, Oulton Hall, West Yorkshire
The judges in Birmginham will be Alain Roux, Steve Love (Roux Scholar 1997) and Sat Bains (Roux Scholar 1999).
The chefs competing in London are:
Sam Carter, UBS Bank (Restaurant Associates), London
Shane Cooke, Credit Suisse (Restaurant Associates), London
Scott Dineen, Goldman Sachs (Baxterstorey), London
Alex Floyd, Ashdown Park hotel, Sussex
Sabrina Gidda, AIG Group London (Restaurant Associates), London
Daniel Lee, La Chapelle (Galvin Restaurants), London
Daniel Miles, Lucknam Park hotel & spa, Wiltshire
David Salt, BNY Mellon (Restaurant Associates), London
James Tully, Stoke Park hotel & golf club, Buckinghamshire
David Wall, Le Talbooth, Milsom Hotels and Restaurants, Essex
Jing Wang, Midsummer House Restaurant, Cambridgeshire
David White, Barclays Wealth (ISS), London
The judges in London will be Michel Roux Jr, Angela Hartnett, James Martin and Gary Rhodes.
This year's list sees the return of last year's finalist Tom Barnes, as well as a reappearance from several of the 2013 regional finalists, including Jing Wang, David Salt, David Wall, Shane Cooke and Adam Rasbourn.
A total of four of this year's 18 regional finalists come from foodservice firm Restaurant Associates.
Meanwhile, several of this year's regional finalists work with previous winners: Alex Floyd is employed at Ashdown Park, the same hotel that produced last year's eventual winner, Paul O'Neill; Daniel Miles works at Lucknam Park hotel & spa with Hrishikesh Desai, Roux Scholar 2009; and Craig Beacham works at the Elephant for Simon Hulstone, Roux Scholar 2003.
The challenge for entrants in this year's competition was to submit a recipe for four people using one saddle of venison ‘fallow buck' weighing anywhere between 1.4 kg - 1.6 kg untrimmed, to be served plated and accompanied by two garnishes. One garnish had to include Jerusalem artichoke, with the other being a garnish of the entrant's choice. A sauce also had to accompany the dish.
The regional finalists will now be given two and a half hours to create their dish, along with a dessert from a mystery box of ingredients given to them on the day. The judges will be looking for those recipes and methods, which demonstrate the best balance of creativity, taste, style and practicality in the finished dish.
Six winners selected from across the two regional finals will go through to the national final on 14 April, which takes place at Westminster Kingsway College, London. The 2014 Roux Scholar will be announced at an awards ceremony held at The Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park, London the same evening.
The winner will receive a career-changing opportunity: a three-month stage at a 3 Michelin starred restaurant anywhere in the world, before becoming part of an elite club and on a fast track to the top of the profession.
Speaking about this year's competition, Michel Roux Jr said: "The standard of recipes received has yet again been astounding, the creativity in method, style and presentation will make the regional finals as exciting as ever."
Alain Roux said: "It was great to see so many imaginative and creative recipes using the saddle of ‘fallow buck' venison. I was delighted to see some classic preparation and cooking methods used as well as some modern approaches. One recipe even includes a hint of chocolate in the sauce, which I'm looking forward to tasting!"
And James Martin added: "The standard this year was higher than ever and it was difficult to pick out the final eighteen. All of these names deserve their place and now the hard work starts. All I can say is beware of the dessert mystery box!"
The Roux Scholarship is supported by a number of companies including: Bridor, Caterer & Hotelkeeper, Direct Seafoods, Fairfax Meadow, Global Knives, Hildon, Kikkoman, Laurent Perrier, L'Unico Caffe Musetti, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, Restaurant Associates, Savoy Educational Trust and Virgin Atlantic Airways.