The Roux Scholarship announces its 18 regional finalists for the 2018 competition

Alain Roux and Michel Roux Jr are delighted to announced the regional finalists for the 2018 Roux Scholarship competition. The 18 finalists were selected from their paper application and written recipe and will compete in two regional finals, held simultaneously on Thursday 8th March 2018 at University College Birmingham and University of West London, Ealing.

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

ABOUT THIS YEAR’S PAPER ENTRIES

This year is a very strong year for regional finalists from a wide geographic spread across the UK: thirteen of the 18 finalists are from restaurants outside London, coming from places between Newcastle-upon-Tyne all the way down to Jersey. Judge Brian Turner said: “It is really gratifying to see how word has spread of the Roux Scholarship and to see all the wonderful people working outside London qualify for the regional finals. From a personal point of view, I’m glad to see so many from the North of England, especially one from Yorkshire!”

The style of establishments in which the finalists work is also very varied, including Miele’s test kitchen, a mid-range hotel restaurant and a number of Michelin-starred establishments and as the paper entries are judged blindly, it can be fascinating for the judges when they entrants’ identities are revealed, as judge James Martin said: “It’s interesting that when you’re judging it blind the marks for our top seven entrants are consistently good. When the names and where they work is revealed afterwards, you see what a cross-section you have. You get the usual ones who come through, but then you get new people, even the Hilton Hotel in York.”

The judges were also proud to see a good number of the finalists have worked in the kitchens of a previous winner, for example Aaron Lawrence, Benjamin Champkin and Martin Carabott and Richard Giles have passed through the kitchens of a Roux scholar, demonstrating the impact of the Roux legacy. Meanwhile Fergus Wilford is in André Garret’s brigade at Cliveden and Kelvin Tan and Ricki Weston are from Restaurant Sat Bains showing that the support of previous scholars in mentoring their chefs to enter is also very important (NB they will attend a different venue to their chef for the regional finals).

Clare Smyth who joins as a judge for the first time this year, said: “It’s such a high level of entries, and it’s great to be with the other judges and get their point of view on things, which makes it great. I’ve always watched the Roux Scholarship and I’ve worked with a lot of the scholars. Last year’s winner Luke Selby and Ian Scaramuzza (2015) have both worked with me. Anyone who wins the Scholarship will be a big names in the future.”

But among the praise for those who had passed through to the next stage, there were also some tips for future applicants, particularly regarding the costings of their recipes. Michel Roux Jr said: “Some of the recipes were absolutely amazing but unfortunately some of the costings were really not up to scratch. Young chefs have to understand that the costings are very important and business acumen is something that chefs have to learn.”

Many of the judges also expressed concern for the amount of waste produce resulting from 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