Spencer Metzger returns from a successful stage at Restaurant Frantzén, Stockholm

Roux Scholarship 2019 winner Spencer Metzger has returned from his stage at Restaurant Frantzén in Stockholm saying it “was a dream place to work,” despite having to return to the UK early due to the coronavirus pandemic. The three-month placement, with all expenses paid, is the star prize of the annual competition, with winners able to choose any three-star Michelin kitchen in the world. Spencer’s choice was Restaurant Frantzén, widely regarded as one of Europe’s best restaurants. It was the first Swedish restaurant to be awarded three stars by the Michelin Guide and it is set in a three-storey, 19th-century townhouse in the Norrmalm district. The guest experience is geared towards interaction with the chefs, who introduce themselves and present their dishes from a backdrop of an open kitchen. The style of cooking combines classic and modern techniques inspired by local tradition with strong Asian influence.

Spencer returned at the end of March, two weeks earlier than scheduled due to the Coronavirus lockdown and said of his experience: “It was so much more than I expected. After a month of working in the prep kitchen, I started to help with the service. All the chefs serve the food, and they told me: ‘This restaurant is about people’s personality so just put yourself forward.’ To start with, I was a bit nervous serving the guests, but after a couple of times they said: ‘Go for it’. Not all the interns get to do service, so that was great.”

The pandemic’s impact on the restaurant meant that Spencer was able to take on more responsibilities due to staff absences, including other international interns returning home. “It meant they pushed me into a different role and I got to do more. It was really good to see how they adapted with staff numbers going from say 35 people down to sometimes 25. Everyone had to step up and do everything they could.”

As well as experiencing a very different style of restaurant to The Ritz London, where Spencer works as Premier Sous Chef, he also enjoyed working with new ingredients and learning new techniques.

“I cooked with a lot of new ingredients that I’ve never heard of before, such as something called Myoga, which is Japanese Ginger, and then there was galangal which I’ve never used before; I’ve never worked with sea urchins or abalone either. There were a lot of techniques I’ve never seen before either and I got to know them really well.” Chef Bjorn Frantzén, who is also due to judge the national final when the competition resumes in the autumn, was impressed by Spencer’s work. He said: “Spencer has really made an impact on not only everyone within the team but also our guests. It has been a pleasure working with such a talent and I really wish him an amazing career.

Roux Scholarship Co-Chairman Michel Roux Jr was delighted to hear how Spencer got on and said: “Chef Frantzén and his team were very welcoming. Spencer immediately became one of the team and has made life-long friends. In essence, this is what the Scholarship is about: life-changing experiences that will be with you forever.”

Co-chairman Alain Roux said: “Spencer was so excited at having a ‘secret door’ opened to him by the Roux Scholarship, a brilliant, unique, priceless experience.  Although having joined and excelled as a humble ‘stagiaire’, Spencer has forged a lasting relationship with his mentors. Spencer has learned that kindness and attention from the team can transcend a guest’s experience and is as important as the dishes and flavours presented.”

Read more about Spencer’s experience in The Caterer