Behind the scenes at the 2021 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, they had the benefit of Simon Hulstone’s wisdom, gained from taking part in several competitions all around the world, as well as winning the Roux Scholarship in 2003. After that, the finalists met the whole judging panel and discovered the challenge they were set: to cook two recipes close to the Roux family’s heart. The first, Eggs Albert, in honour of Albert Roux, was an artichoke heart filled with smoked salmon, trout and truffle, topped with a poached egg and adorned with a slice of smoked salmon. The second, in honour of Michel Roux OBE was Little flans with snails in green coats. This comprised of snails and herb soufflé baked in a tartlet with beurre blanc sauce. 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. We were delighted to be joined by Bjorn Frantzén, our Honorary President of Judges, who flew over from Stockholm for the competition. Also judging the final alongside Michel Roux Jr and Alain Roux were Brian Turner, Sat Bains, Rachel Humphrey, Simon Hulstone and James Martin.

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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!

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The ceremony

And then it was on to the party to reveal who had won. 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 prepare the winning dishes. Then the finalists were welcomed on stage and Bjorn Frantzén announced our winner – Oli Williamson!

Our dinner guests – sponsors, judges and the finalists with their guests – were then treated to a sensational meal cooked by the three most recent scholars, Spencer Metzger, Martin Carabott and Luke Selby.

Click on the gallery below to see more pictures.