Mark Birchall, of L'Enclume, wins Roux Scholarship!


Mark Birchall will spend his stage in Spain at family-run restaurant El Celler de Can Roca. The restaurant, which has just been placed at number two in this year's S.Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants list, is run by brothers Joan, Josep and Jordi – head chef, head sommelier/maitre d' and head pastry chef'. Birchall said: "I chose it because they use good techniques but they still respect regional traditions and produce, it's run by three brothers who will be there the whole time which will be very interesting. I've never eaten there but I've always followed it and wanted to eat there."

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Mark Birchall, 29, Head Chef at Simon Rogan’s Michelin-starred L’Enclume restaurant in Cumbria has won the 2011 Roux Scholarship.  Birchall, in his fourth and final year of entry, beat five other finalists in a close-run competition held on the 18th April at Westminster Kingsway College.

His version of the classic Veal Orloff, a boned and stuffed rack of veal, impressed the judges, who included members of the Roux family.   Later 250 industry guests gathered to watch him claim his prize at a special evening ceremony at London’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

Above: Photos from the 2011 Roux Scholarship Final

Michel Roux OBE:  “Mark was a clear winner, his dish was excellent, well seasoned and the cooking of each ingredient was bang on.  After three previous times when his name wasn’t called he could have given up but his perseverance has paid off, he has honed his skills and shown great determination to succeed, this is what being a Roux Scholar is all about.  Well done!”

Birchall becomes the 28th scholar following on from Kenneth Culhane who is currently on his winning stage at Jean Georges in New York.  Mark has been head chef at L’Enclume for the last five years. He said afterwards:

"This was the toughest year of all my entries, without a doubt. None of us knew the dish or what it should look like. I knew that seasoning was going to be important and I just let my experience and food sense guide me. It’s an amazing feeling. "

Asked where he thought he might like to spend his stage he said:

"El Cellar de San Roca in Spain under Joan Roca or at Thomas Keller’s Per Se in New York. But obviously I'm going to discuss it with the Roux family and with Simon at L'Enclume."

The six finalists were given the task of cooking Roasted best end of veal Orloff style, kidney on skewers and stuffed vegetables, truffle jus from the Larousse Gastronomique, a 19th century symbol of classical French haute cuisine.

The young chefs had two and a half hours to complete the task in front of judges.  Joining the Roux family this year were Brian Turner CBE, Gary Rhodes OBE, David Nicholls and James Martin.  Guest judge was Steve Love, the Roux Scholar from 1997.

An exciting feature of the 2011 final was the ‘fly on the wall’ film of the event produced by Cactus TV, which will form the backbone of a newly commissioned 10 part series by UKTV for their Good Food Channel.  Called ‘The Roux Legacy’ it will air early next year.

A highlight of the film was the Roux cousins, Michel Roux Jnr and Alain Roux demonstrating a ‘master class’, of how the final dish should be cooked. The film also followed the finalist’s journey and featured footage of last years Scholar, Kenneth Culhane on his stage at Jean Georges in New York.

Useful Quotes

Michel Roux Jnr“This was an exceptionally hard dish to recreate, I know I cooked it with Alain!  Mark’s dish was well seasoned and tasted exceptional.”

James Martin:  “Mark is a truly gifted young cook and is goes to prove that if at first you don't succeed try again, as at the final chance to win he did it.  His dish in the regional heats was the best I tasted and he didn't disappoint in the final.  I wish Mark the best in his career and this will I'm sure be the making of a chef to watch.”

Brian Turner, CBE:   “This was a very stiff test of skill, one of the toughest I’ve seen in a few years.  It was interesting to see how each of them approached the dish and their understanding of classical cooking in a modern setting”

Our Supporters
The Roux Scholarship is kindly supported by a number of companies including:  All-Clad, Caterer & Hotelkeeper, Chef Magazine, Direct Seafoods, Electrolux, Fairfax Meadow, Global Knives, Gosset Champagne, L’Unico Caffe Musetti, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, Restaurant Associates and Savoy Educational Trust.

Supplementary Information

The six national finalists were:

Quinton Bennett Haymarket Hotel, London
Mark Birchall LEnclume, Cartmel, Cumbria
Richard Edwards Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa, Wiltshire
Pramod Ghadge Restaurant Associates, London
Neven Vanderzee Galvin At Windows, London
Nick Whatmough Restaurant Associates, Barclays Wealth, London



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