Eighteen regional finalists 

2017 was a strong year for entries with applicants from a wide geographic spread of establishments across the UK.

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

The regional finals will be held simultaneously on Thursday 23rd March 2017. They will take place 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

Facts about the finalists:

  • Martin Carabott, Scott Dineen and Paul Matthews all competed in last year’s final. Michael Cruickshank and David Scarpato were regional finalists in 2016.
  • Thirteen chefs are new to the competition.
  • Five competitors are from contract catering companies.
  • Simon Rogan continues his strong association with the competition; two finalists, Jack Brough and Oliver Downey, work for Dan Cox (2008 scholar) at Fera at Claridge’s.
  • Fergus Wilford is in André Garret’s brigade at Cliveden and Peter Turnpenny works for Hrishikesh Desai (2009 scholar) at Gilpin Hotel & Lake House.

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.

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