Diversity and The Roux Scholarship

As the most prestigious competition for young chefs, The Roux Scholarship is committed to encouraging chefs from all backgrounds and demographics to enter. Our first round of judging is blind, so each chef has an equal chance of qualifying for the regional finals and are judged on the quality of the recipe alone. Only after the finalists are selected are their identities revealed to the judges.

Throughout its history, The Roux Scholarship has welcomed many finalists and several winners from minority ethnic groups and welcomes chefs from every background to enter. Meanwhile, the Scholarship has only had two female winners – Mercy Fenton in 1994 and April Lily Partridge in 2023 – and usually has fewer female regional and national finalists than male.

In advance of the 2023 competition, we hosted a round table discussion with some of the leading figures in the UK hospitality industry to drill down into the issues facing female chefs in Britain today and how this might be addressed in the context of The Roux Scholarship. Our aim was to share knowledge, experiences and ideas for encouraging more female chefs to enter, and then to produce a White Paper report on how this could be achieved, with recommendations for the wider industry and a set of actions that can be implemented by The Roux Scholarship itself.

Following the publication of The White Paper (read it via the link below), the 2023 competition saw more female regional finalists than ever before, with April Lily Partridge progressing to the national final and then being named the very deserving winner after she strongly impressed the judges with her monkfish pie dish.

At the award ceremony after the announcement, April said: “I want to see more women come into the industry, I want to see them succeeding. I hope this sees more women enter and keep pushing with their dreams.”

The random draw for the commis chefs saw April paired with Westminster Kingsway College student Jessica Goddard. April said: “I was so, so happy to a woman assigned to me. It was like girl power!

The Roux Scholarship continues to be committed to attracting even more women and people from minority backgrounds to the competition and asks that every kitchen in every restaurant in the UK looks to use The Roux Scholarship to help the progression of its talented chefs. Find out how you can support a chef in your brigade to enter here.

  • Find out more about the Round Table discussion here.
  • For the Roux Scholarship 2024, Emily Roux joins the judging panel, alongside fellow judges Clare Smyth, Angela Hartnett and Rachel Humphrey, and Alain and Michel Roux, Brian Turner, Sat Bains, James Martin, André Garrett and Simon Hulstone.

Main picture: April Lily Partridge competing in the 2022 Roux Scholarship final.

Ruth Hansom at the regional finals in 2022
Nicole Benham-Corlette at the regional finals 2023
Lucila Mattiauda at the 2023 regional finals