There are several parts to the Roux Scholarship, find out what happens at each stage of the competition and what you can expect as a participant, from the online entry all the way through to winning.
For tips on how to do well at each stage, visit our winners’ and judges’ pages or see our advice page.
The online registration form is the first step towards taking part in the Roux Scholarship. First register your entry with the registration form. If you meet the entry criteria, our colleagues at the Institute of Hospitality will send you a link to second online form for your recipe application. The task is to write a recipe using specified ingredients, which are announced each year in November when entries open. These ingredients are always seasonal, good quality and allow for a chef to put their own signature on a dish. The recipe must be uploaded through our online application form, along with photos of your dish, your profile picture and contact details before the annual January deadline. Only the recipe is shown to the judges; they do not know the identity, age, gender or the establishment of the entrant.
This is often referred to as the ‘paper judging’ stage; once all the applications have been processed, the anonymous recipes are given to our esteemed judges who then mark the recipes out of ten for different criteria. They look for how enticing the dish is, its presentation, whether it’s kept within the rules and that its costs are reasonable. Once the recipes are marked by the judges individually, the team gets together at The Waterside Inn to discuss and compare their marks. As a result of this discussion, they select 18 regional finalists.
From the 18 regional finalists, 12 chefs compete at the University of West London in Ealing and six compete at University College Birmingham. The day starts off with a briefing by either Alain Roux or Michel Roux Jr to remind participants of the rules and an explanation about the contents of the ‘Mystery Dessert’ box. Competitors then have 45 minutes to write out their recipe and work plan for the dessert before they start cooking (books are allowed for reference purposes on the day to help you plan your dessert, but cannot be taken into the kitchen). A maximum of two and a half hours’ cooking time is allowed to prepare and serve both their recipe and the dessert. Marks are awarded for culinary skills, organisation, hygiene etc. Each competitor’s dish is then presented to the judges, who taste it and make notes. The judges in London and Birmingham then all join a conference call between the two venues and between them, they select six national finalists.
The big day takes place at Westminster Kingsway College in London and begins with a briefing from one of the scholar-judges about what to expect from the final, giving tips and advice on how to handle the day. Competitors then take a seat in the dining hall, where they are joined by the judges. Either Michel Roux Jr or Alain Roux will announce the key ingredients that the competitors will need to base their dish around. Under exam-like conditions, they have a set period of time to prepare their work plan and make notes from the books they have brought (these are not allowed in the kitchen). Finalists then start cooking at 10-minute intervals and have 2.5 or three hours (depending on the recipe) to cook their dish. The judges, including the specially invited Honorary President of Judges, circulate in the kitchen, making notes, asking questions and watching them cook. Their dishes are then presented to the judges who taste it and make notes. They then sit down together to discuss who should win and come to their momentous decision.
Our award ceremony is the highlight of the day: strictly an invite-only affair, the guests are closely linked to the Roux Scholarship; they may have supported a chef to enter, or be a judge, sponsor or former winner. After guests are welcomed with a glass of champagne, the ceremony begins and Alain Roux and Michel Roux Jr explain the story of that year’s competition, we watch their film of them cooking the final recipe themselves, we hear about the incredible array of prizes and about the highlights of the regional finals. The six national finalists are then welcomed on to the stage, each hoping to hear their name read out. Then it comes – Michel and Alain announce the brand new Roux Scholar! From there, the dinner is served and the wine and champagne flows as we celebrate the winner’s special moment. For them, however, it is just the start: find out what it’s like to be a Roux Scholar here: