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.”
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
The chefs competing in London
Ryan Baker, The Ritz, London
Jordan Bayes, Tuddenham Mill, Newmarket, Suffolk
Bence Burai, Texture Restaurant, London
Olivia Burt, Claridges, 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
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.
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.
- 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.