Behind the scenes at the 2022 final

The briefing

The first stage of the day is for our finalists to be briefed by one of our scholar-judges about what to expect and how to manage their time during the cook-off. This year, Simon Hulstone talked them through the process of the competition and what they could expect. As five of them had never taken part in the national final before, this advice was vital. After that, the finalists met the whole judging panel including the Honorary President of Judges, Hélène Darroze, and discovered the challenge they were set: to cook ‘Chaud-froid of Merrifield duck à l’orange, Chartreuse of asparagus.’ This included chilled roasted ducks, coated in a brown chaud-froid jellied velouté sauce, served with chilled individual Chartreuse of asparagus. The classic French recipe, inspired by Escoffier, allowed the finalists to demonstrate their talent in numerous ways. You can see Alain Roux and Michel Roux Jr cook their version here. The skill was not only perfecting the recipes but getting the timing exactly right and serving the two dishes five to ten minutes apart. The finalists are given time to prepare their work plans and can use the books they have brought as reference.

Click on the gallery below to see more pictures (all photos by Jodi Hinds Photography)

The Cook-Off

The finalists entered the kitchen at 10-minute intervals to start cooking their dishes and the judges circulated throughout the three hours. Judging the final alongside Hélène Darroze, Michel Roux Jr and Alain Roux were Brian Turner, Sat Bains, Clare Smyth, Simon Hulstone, André Garrett and James Martin.

Click on the gallery below to see more pictures.

The tasting

Once the chefs have prepared their dishes, they present them to the judges, who all tuck in for a taste. Having already made notes on the chefs’ working methods in the kitchen, they mark the dishes on their presentation, the success in execution of the recipes and are looking for some individual flair. They then compare notes and decide on the winner! This year, it was a tough call, but Jonnie Ferguson impressed the judges all-round with his interpretation of the dish (pictured).

Click on the gallery below to see more pictures.

The ceremony

And then it was on to the party at the Mandarin Oriental to reveal who had won. First a champagne reception welcomed our guests – sponsors, finalists and judges – in the beautiful terrace overlooking Hyde Park. Then it was time to take places at the tables to start the ceremony. With a huge audience watching at home via the livestream, our dinner guests saw the pre-recorded film of Michel and Alain’s masterclass showing how they prepared the final dish. Then the six finalists were welcomed on stage and Hélène Darroze revealed the winner – Jonnie Ferguson!

Click on the gallery below to see more pictures.