Birmingham regional final in pictures

The 2020/2021 Regional Finals took place on 9th September 2021 after an 18-month delay due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The chefs were battling it out for six places at the National Final, at Westminster Kingsway College on 25th October 2021.

The Birmingham regional final at University College Birmingham saw six chefs competing; they were Jonnie Ferguson from The Raby Hunt in County Durham; Curtis Tonge from The Forge in Chester; Jac Webster from The Angel at Hetton; Oliver Marlow from Aulis in London; Scott Braithwaite from L’Enclume; and Joshua Fulcher from Restaurant 22 in Cambridge.

The judges were Alain Roux, Simon Hulstone (Roux Scholar 2003), Sat Bains (Roux Scholar 1999) and Angela Hartnett.

Two of the Birmingham finalists were chosen to go through to the National Final: Curtis Tonge and Jonnie Ferguson.

Photos by Anna Lythgoe

The Regional Finalists

Curtis Tonge, Chester
Jonnie Ferguson, The Raby Hunt, County Durham
Scott Braithwaite from L'Enclume, Cumbria
Oliver Marlow from Aulis in London
Jac Webster from The Angel at Hetton
Joshua Fulcher from Restaurant 22, Cambridge


Alain Roux briefing the competitors
Jac Webster listening at the briefing
Competitor Curtis Tonge (and Scott Braithwaite in the background)
Competitor Oliver Marlow
Judges Sat Bains, Simon Hulstone and Alain Roux tasting
Jonnie Ferguson's dish: Confit fillet of hake, wild mushrooms and lime leaf velouté
The moment Jonnie Ferguson hears he has got through to the final
Judge Alain Roux
Been there, done that... won it and became a judge. Roux Scholars Sat Bains and Simon Hulstone
Oliver Marlow at the briefing
Judge Angela Hartnett and competitor Joshua Fulcher
Stepping Stone Media capturing the day for our official films on YouTube
Simon Hulstone tasting the chefs' dishes
Curtis Tonge's dish: Hake - Creme fraiche - lemon - clam - leek - potato
The winners of the regional final in Birmingham, Jonnie Ferguson and Curtis Tonge, with the judges
The prizes for the Regional Finalists from sponsors TRUEFoods, Global Knives and Caffé Musetti L'Unico
Sat Bains, Alain Roux and Simon Hulstone
Judge Simon Hulstone overseeing the competitors write their dessert recipes
Competitor Jonnie Ferguson
Alain Roux and Angela Hartnett tasting
The moment Curtis Tonge hears he has got through to the final
The two National finalists selected at Birmingham Curtis Tonge and Jonnie Ferguson

The Challenge

Their challenge was to cook the recipe they submitted with their application, which uses one whole fresh gutted hake, weighing anywhere between 1.6kg – 1.8kg and 600g of live whole grooved carpet shell / palourde clams (ruditapes decussatus). They had to be plated together with two simple or composed garnishes/accompaniments. One of these had to include leeks and the other was a garnish/accompaniment of the applicant’s choice. One of these could be served separately if preferred and a sauce had to accompany the dish. The regional finalists had 2½ hrs to cook their dish, along with a dessert from a mystery box of ingredients given to them on the day. The judges were looking for recipes and methods, which demonstrate the best balance of creativity, taste, style and practicality in the finished dish.

The 2021 mystery box

The brief was to prepare a dessert for four people using the ingredients supplied.
One ingredient could be omitted but at least 50% of the following ingredients had to be used:

30ml Grand Marnier liqueur
400ml whole milk
150g caster sugar
200g plain flour
100g unsalted butter
4 Mandarin oranges
4 medium-sized Granny Smith apples
80 g mixed orange and lemon candied peel