Every year since 2016, we have invited one of the world’s best chefs to lead the judging panel of the national final. We have been privileged to have the wisdom from their years of experience and the insight brought from their respective countries.
We are delighted to have Chef Hélène Darroze as our Honorary President of Judges for the 2022 competition. With her restaurant Hélène Darroze at The Connaught in London holding three Michelin stars, and her three restaurants in France being highly acclaimed, she will bring her stellar experience to the competition.
Born in Mont de Marsan in Les Landes, south-western France, Hélène is the fourth generation chefs in her family, although her foray in the restaurant industry was on the operational side, having completed a business degree at L’Ecole Supérieure de Commerce in Bordeaux. While working behind the scenes with Alain Ducasse at his three Michelin-starred Le Louis XV in the famous Hotel De Paris, Monaco, Ducasse recognised her potential and encouraged her – initially part-time – into the kitchen. In 1995, she returned to her home region of Les Landes, when her father gave her the keys to the kitchen of the family-run, Relais & Châteaux affiliated restaurant in Villeneuve-de-Marsan. This allowed Hélène to refine her culinary style with family support and where she remained for four years. Eager to develop her own career, Hélène returned to Paris to open her own venture, Restaurant Hélène Darroze. The restaurant received international acclaim and was awarded its first Michelin star in 2001, followed by a second star in 2011.
Building on the success of Paris, she opened her first restaurant outside France at the historic hotel, The Connaught in London’s prestigious Mayfair, in 2010. Just six months later, Hélène Darroze at The Connaught was launched and awarded a Michelin star, with the second following in 2011. After a complete refurbishment, the restaurant reopened in September 2019 and was awarded the ultimate three stars in the 2021 Michelin Guide.
In September 2018, she opened a new venture titled Jòia by Hélène Darroze in Le Sentier (2nd Arrondissement) in Paris. The following year, in July 2019, she relaunched her flagship restaurant in Paris as ‘Marsan by Hélène Darroze’ which is named after the capital town in her home region of Les Landes and holds two Michelin stars. And then, most recently, in July 2021, she opened Hélène Darroze at Villa La Coste, in Provence, France, having been seduced by the opulence and diversity of the vegetables and fruit from the region.
In addition to global recognition for her restaurants, Hélène was awarded the Veuve Clicquot Prize for Best Female Chef 2015 from The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Hélène is the mother of two girls and co-created the charity association ‘La Bonne Etoile’, which helps disadvantaged children. She received the rank of Knight of the Legion of Honour in 2012.
Chef Darroze is no stranger to judging chef competitions, having been a judge on the TV French television series Top Chef (similar to the UK’s Masterchef: The Professionals) since 2015. We cannot wait to introduce her to our six national finalists.
Chef Frantzén’s eponymous restaurant has held three Michelin stars since 2018 and hosted 2019 Roux Scholarship winner Spencer Metzger for his three-month stage. Frantzén is widely regarded to be one of the best restaurants in Europe, and was the the first Swedish restaurant to be awarded three stars by the Michelin Guide. The restaurant started as a small dining room, but in 2016 it transferred to larger premises; a three-storey 19th-century townhouse in the Norrmalm district.
Chef Frantzén said: “It’s a great honour to be asked to join as Honorary President for 2020. Having spent more than six years in the UK during my early career, the Roux Family has also been important for my own cooking. I still remember going past the legendary Le Gavroche every morning to work and dreaming of one day running my own Michelin establishment. So, it’s with great pleasure I’m joining the legendary Roux Family for such an important cause as inspiring and making sure our industry is taking care of young talents; without them, our loved industry is nothing.”
The winner of the Roux Scholarship 2020/2021 was Oli Williamson.
The Roux Scholarship proved its global influence in 2019 with the appointment of one of Australia’s leading chefs, Peter Gilmore. Chef Gilmore is Executive Chef of The Quay restaurant in Sydney, which was included in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants five times, as well as Bennelongat The Sydney Opera House. With more than 30 years’ experience, both in Sydney and around the world, Chef Gilmore’s inspirational approach to cooking has won him many accolades. He was one of the first chefs in Australia to embrace heirloom varieties of vegetables and continues to work in partnership with artisan producers who cultivate produce exclusively for his restaurants.
Chef Gilmore said in 2019: “The Roux brothers were already legends in the industry when I started my apprenticeship in the mid-80s. It is such an honour to be asked to be Honorary President of Judges for this year’s Roux Scholarship. It cannot be underestimated the influence the Roux Family have had on the culinary world. The Roux Scholarship is such an important initiative for promoting and uncovering young talent within the hospitality industry. For a young chef to be able to call themselves a Roux Scholar means a great deal, not just in the UK but internationally.”
The 2019 winner was Spencer Metzger.
Michel Guérard ranks among the most influential chefs in the world. In the early 1970s, Michel Guérard, alongside chefs Paul Bocuse, Roger Vergé, Troisgros brothers and Alain Chapel, championed the movement of French Cuisine and today are considered to be the founding fathers of Nouvelle Cuisine. In the early 1970s, Chef Guérard moved from Paris to Les Prés d’Eugénie, in the spa village of Eugénie-les-Bains, in southwest France, where he developed a healthy yet delicious diet (called Grande Cuisine Minceur® – great slimming cuisine) to complement the spa, run by his late wife Christine Barthélémy and her family. Guérard won his first Michelin star for Les Pres d’Eugenie in 1974 and his second just a year later, with a third coming in 1977. He has held three Michelin stars continuously ever since.
A number of acclaimed chefs have trained in his kitchen including Alain Ducasse, Michel Troisgros, Gérald Passédat, Sébastien Bras and Daniel Boulud. Roux Scholars Andrew Fairlie and Matthew Tomkinson both did their three-month stages at Les Pres d’Eugenie.
He said on being invited to be Honorary President of Judges: “I am honoured to be involved with the Roux Scholarship this year. From the beginning I have taken a keen interest in the talented chefs who have won this prestigious accolade, and I was delighted to host the first scholar Andrew Fairlie for his stage in 1984, and also Matthew Tomkinson in 2005. I’m excited to see the competition in action and it will be a pleasure to join the Roux family to choose the 35th scholar.”
The 2018 winner was Martin Carabott.
Anne-Sophie Pic’s story is both remarkable and inspiring. In 2007, she became the fourth female chef to achieve three Michelin stars and the only woman to hold three stars at a restaurant in France, Anne-Sophie Pic, in Valence. In 2011, The World’s 50 Best Restaurants named her World’s Best Female Chef. A total of seven Michelin stars to her name; she holds two stars for Anne-Sophie Pic, in Lausanne, Switzerland and a sixth for La Dame de Pic in Paris and most recently, her seventh star at her first restaurant in London, La Dame de Pic at the Four Seasons Hotel, Ten Trinity Square. She said on joining the judging panel in 2017:
“I feel very honoured, to be involved with the 2017 Roux Scholarship, it is an interesting competition, emphasising both tradition and innovation. I believe that these two values are the two sides of the same coin. Within the tradition there is the idea of know-how and transmission, which are key to make the cuisine of a country lasting. I think one needs to know where he comes from to know where he wants to go. The question of roots is important to build our own path in life.”
The winner of that year’s competition was Luke Selby.
Legendary chef Pierre Gagnaire has sixteen restaurants around the world, from Paris to Tokyo, and has been a global leader on the culinary stage for decades. His London restaurant The Lecture Room at Sketch was awarded its third Michelin star in the 2020 guide, while his other restaurants also hold countless awards and accolades. Chef Gagnaire’s motto is “Looking to tomorrow, but respecting yesterday,” which could easily sum up the Roux Scholarship too!
In 2016, he was invited to be the competition’s first ever Honorary President of Judges and shared in naming that year’s winner, Harry Guy. Chef Gagnaire also hosted Roux Scholarship winners Frederick Forster and Paul O’Neill for their stages. He said at the time:
“It is a great honour to be a part of this event. I have huge respect for the Roux brothers who were the pioneers of French cuisine in Great Britain. This is a unique event promoting our culinary culture and allowing the next generation of chefs to come out of the shadows for good.”