Regional finalists for the 2019 Roux Scholarship announced
As the regional finalists for the Roux Scholarship 2019 are announced, chairmen Alain Roux and Michel Roux Jr are delighted that a new generation of chefs are taking part, having submitted recipes that demonstrate a very high level of talent. In this year’s competition, 14 of the 18 regional finalists are first-time applicants. The line-up also sees the first female regional finalist since 2015.
These 18 chefs were selected from their paper applications and written recipes submitted anonymously to the judges, who took part in the Paper Judging day at The Waterside Inn on Wednesday 27th February. The 18 finalists will compete in two regional finals which will be held simultaneously on Thursday 14th March 2019 at University College Birmingham and University of West London, Ealing.
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
Michel Roux Jr, Rachel Humphrey, James Martin, Sat Bains (1999 scholar), André Garrett (2002 scholar).
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
Alain Roux, Brian Turner CBE, Angela Hartnett MBE, Simon Hulstone (2003 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
This year’s challenge was 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 ‘simple’ or ‘composed’ garnishes/accompaniments. One of them must include potato rösti and the other to be a garnish/accompaniment of your choice. One of these can be served separately if preferred. A sauce must accompany the dish.
For the regional final, competitors will have 2½ hrs to cook their dish, along with a dessert from a mystery box of ingredients given to them on the day. The judges will be looking for recipes and methods, which demonstrate the best balance of creativity, taste, style and practicality in the finished dish.
Reflecting on the 2019 competition so far, Michel Roux Jr commented: “The standard goes up every year and we see different ways of cooking, from the classics to the more modern cooking – I can’t wait to taste them. Hogget has a very pronounced, lamby flavour and is a wonderful meat to use.”
- 2019 is a very strong year for first-time applications, with 14 of the 18 regional finalists having not competed in the competition before. Three chefs have previously qualified for the final: Sam Nash (L’Enclume) in 2018, and Scott Dineen in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017; and Michael Cruickshank (Bohemia, Jersey) made it to the final in 2017, and the regional final in 2016 and 2018. While Ricki Weston (now Whatley Manor, previously Restaurant Sat Bains) competed in last year’s regional final.
- Olivia Catherine Burt, from Claridge’s, is the first female to qualify for the regional finals since Sabrina Gidda in 2014 and 2015, who also went on to the final.
- The regional finalists from a wide geographic spread across the UK. Eight of the 18 finalists are from restaurants outside London.
- Three establishments each have two regional finalists in the shortlist: The Ritz and L’Enclume, proving once again what great mentors these chefs have in John Williams and Simon Rogan. BaxterStorey also has two finalists, showing that it is also a great supporter of chefs entering the competition.
- Chef Yiannis Mexis comes from Ollie Dabbous’ restaurant Hide – where the two most recent winners Luke Selby and Martin Carabott both work.
- The paper applications are judged blind, so judges don’t know their identity or their place of work.
- The judges felt that many written recipes were adventurous, while others were more classic in style. Most had brought their own experience and personality into the recipes
Clare Smyth MBE said of the competition this year:
“I really love hogget, it’s a really under-utilised meat and there are some really delicious-sounding dishes this year.
“It’s also nice to see a female chef among the finalists; once the identities were revealed, I realised she had one of my highest scores so I was excited about that. There are some great name houses in there – it’s going to be a really exciting competition, a tough one.”
National final – Monday 1st April 2019:
Six winners selected from across the two regional finals will go through to the national final, which takes place at Westminster Kingsway College, London. The judges for the final cook-off will be: Alain Roux, Michel Roux Jr, Brian Turner CBE, Sat Bains, Clare Smyth MBE, James Martin and the Honorary President of Judges Peter Gilmore, who is coming from Sydney, Australia, to take part. The 36th Roux Scholar will be announced at a prestigious award ceremony at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, that same evening.
History and background to The Roux Scholarship:
In 1984, Michel Roux OBE founded the Roux Scholarship with his brother Albert to enable a new generation of chefs from Britain to train in the greatest restaurants in the world. Not only has it become the industry’s most acclaimed chef competition in the UK with many scholars having gone on to win Michelin stars themselves, it ranks among the most prestigious competitions for chefs in the world. Since it was established more than three decades ago, it has helped British chefs gain the international recognition they deserve. With many young chefs entering the competition each year, it is true to say thousands have been inspired, and lives changed, by the experience of competing.