Martin Carabott won the Roux Scholarship in March 2018, and did his three-month stage at Eleven Madison Park in New York.
It was the third time Martin had been in the final, competing in both 2016 and 2017 national finals but found the 2018 competition particularly hard. “The dish was difficult, there was a lot of work needed to be done in three hours. There’s always pressure when you are watched by these superstar chefs, an added pressure. You need to be disciplined and focused,” he said afterwards.
For the final, Martin and his fellow finalists were asked to prepare and serve Pigeonneaux Valenciennes-style, with a vin jaune sauce, which included the challenging task of deboning the pigeon.
Martin – who is originally from Malta – is no stranger to competitions and has previously been a finalist in the 2016 Craft Guild of Chefs National Chef of the Year competition, having won the British Culinary Federation Chef of the Year earlier that year. In May 2014 he was awarded the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Annual Award of Excellence, and in May 2013 he was named winner of the Club Secretaries and Managers Association Award for Culinary Excellence.
In early 2018, Martin joined 2017 Roux Scholar Luke Selby in the kitchens of Ollie Dabbous’ restaurant Hide*, which launched in April 2018 and gained its first Michelin star in the 2019 guide. Hide is set over three levels – fine dining restaurant Above, Casual Dining at Ground and a bar named Below. Martin is Senior Sous Chef at Ground, while Luke was previously Head Chef at Above. Prior to this, Martin has worked at Luca and the Royal Automobile Club, as Senior Sous Chef in both establishments, as well as at the Michelin-starred Apsley’s restaurant, under Heinz Beck, in the Lanesborough Hotel.
Martin conducted his three-month winning stage at Eleven Madison Park, which he said was a life-changing experience. He said: “I chose to stage at Eleven Madison Park primarily because I love the food they do there because it is technically perfect, yet looks simple and sharp. I have admired the evolution of the food and the identity of the restaurant, and how it became cleaner and more refined.”
During his stage, Martin began with helping out in the kitchen before progressing quickly to training on different sections, under the guidance of Chef de Cuisine Brian Lockwood. Martin devised a dish for the restaurant’s seasonal ‘cook battle’ competition. Chef Lockwood said: “During his time at Eleven Madison Park, Martin was able to spend time with chefs working on four different stations in the kitchen. He also participated in our quarterly cook battle competition, which really helps drive our collaborative creativity. He placed second out of 50 cooks which is a huge honour in itself. He worked really hard, was super-focused and will no doubt make an impact in our industry in the coming years.”
Martin said: “I was thrown in the deep end, which I really enjoyed and I was embraced as one of the team.
Martin also enjoyed his various prizes, including trips to Champagne with our sponsor Laurent Perrier and to Milan with Caffé Musetti, and as if 2018 wasn’t a big enough year for him, Martin also got married to Lida in June 2018, and cooked all the food for the wedding guests!