18 regional finalists confirmed for the 2019 competition

This year’s Roux Scholarship is set to be an exciting competition, with 14 first-time applicants making it through to the regional final. 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. Alain Roux said: “The level seems to be very high this year; it’s good to see so many first-time applicants, which shows that – even after all the year’s the competition has been running – it is still regarded by the younger generation of chefs as a competition with a high value.”

University College Birmingham

Summer Row, Birmingham, B3 1JB

University of West London

School of Hospitality & Tourism, St Mary’s Road Ealing, W5 5RF

Birmingham Judges

London Judges

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


The 2019 line-up also sees 23-year-old chef Olivia Catherine Burt from Claridge’s in London as the first woman in the regional finals since Sabrina Gidda in 2014 and 2015 (Sabrina also progressed to the final). Judge Clare Smyth, who was named World’s Best Female Chef in last year’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards, said: “It’s also nice to see a female chef among the finalists and, 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.”

Vice-chairman and judge Brian Turner was impressed by the establishments who had put chefs forward. “A nice thing about the first-timers, is that all come from houses and people who understand the value of competitions such as the Roux Scholarship. It’s important chefs understand the classics and the value of the classics, and that they understand how things are balanced and it’s not all bells and whistles. A lot of these houses know that this is the competition to be associated with.”

These 18 chefs were selected from their paper applications and written recipes, which were submitted anonymously to the judges. The Paper Judging day took place 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 challenge

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.

7 fast facts:

  • 2019 is a very strong year for first-time applications, with 14 of the 18 regional finalists never having competed before. Three chefs have qualified for the final before: 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.
Scott Dineen
Sam Nash
Ricki Weston
Michael Cruickshank
  • Olivia Burt, from Claridges, 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 this establishment 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.

Quotes from the judges

Andrew-Fairlie“Overall there was a high standard of entries. What surprises me is that some chefs continue to underestimate the importance of their written entry. They need to consider that we judge this blind and only have what’s written down to go on. Once the names were revealed it was clear that a number of great chefs are slipping through the net because of a lack of attention to detail in the presentation and description of their dishes” Andrew Fairlie

“Several recipes shone out today with great explanations and images. Let’s hope they taste as good!” James Martin

“My first paper judging was an eye-opener of how stringently the rules are applied, it’s all judged blind so we don’t know who the entrants are. It’s exciting to know the winner will be one of these great candidates!” Sat Bains

Andre-Garrett“I’m impressed! The chefs who got through have all thought creatively about using these ingredients. Rainbow trout is an underused fish, not often seen on menus and there are some exciting ways of using jasmine rice” André Garrett

Simon-Hulstone“It’s great to see a mix of modern, as well as classical, cooking techniques in the competition this year. I hope the chefs have remembered they need time to make the mystery dessert too!”  Simon Hulstone

The Challenge

This year’s challenge is to create a recipe to serve four people using one whole fresh rainbow trout weighing anywhere between 1.5 – 1.75kg (maximum 2kg) and 800g live mussels, together served plated and accompanied by two garnishes. One garnish must include jasmine rice and the other to be a garnish of choice. One of these garnishes can be served separately if preferred. A sauce must accompany the dish.

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.

Michel-Roux-Jr“These ingredients were an inspired choice, they’ve really made the chefs think. In particular, there are some very imaginative interpretations of jasmine rice which I’m looking forward to tasting” Michel Roux Jr

Alain-Roux“Some chefs have kept their dishes relatively simple, some are more elaborate, it’s easy to tell who has tested, tasted and refined their recipes until they work” Alain Roux