London 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 regional final at University of West London saw 12 chefs competing, with four chefs gaining a place in the final; these were Ryan Baker, Ben Champkin, Nathan Cornwell and Oli Williamson.

The judges were Michel Roux Jr, André Garrett (Roux Scholar 2002), Brian Turner, Clare Smyth and Rachel Humphrey.

Main photo: Ryan Baker’s main dish. All photos by Jodi Hinds.

The Regional Finalists

Conor Wilson from The Traddock, North Yorkshire
Olivia Burt from Stanley's, London
Chris Sidiropolous from Pied-a-Terre, London
Oliver Dovey from BaxterStorey
Conor Bird from the House of Commons
Caer Timberlake from Restaurant 22 in Cambridge
Tobias Smith from Leathersellers, London
Michael Cruickshank from Bohemia in Jersey
Ryan Baker, Maison Francois, London
Ben Champkin, The Newt, Somerset
Oli Williamson, The Fat Duck, Bray
Nathan Cornwell, The Barn at Moor Hall, Lancashire


Christos Sidiropoulos during the briefing
Finalist Connor Wilson and Clare Smyth
Finalist Michael Cruickshank
Clare Smyth and finalist Olivia Burt
Rachel Humphrey adds up the points on the score sheet
Deliberation about the final dishes
Ben Champkin's dish: hake poached in brown butter, leek & cauliflower royale, pickled Palourde clams, champagne sauce
Chris Sidiropoulous' main dish. Hake in two ways: braised with leeks puree, pan-roasted leeks, clams and parsley sauce-Brandade of hake on crispy sourdough bread and capers
Oliver Dovey's dish: confit and roasted hake, pickled clams, leek croquette, salsify, samphire, Vin Jaune sauce
Michel watching the competitors write their dessert recipes
Judge Rachel Humphrey and Nathan Cornwell
Chef Michel and Caer Timberlake
Finalist Ryan Baker and André Garrett
André Garrett takes notes as he tastes the finalists' dishes
Video call between Chef Michel and Chef Alain to discuss the final result
Oli Williamson's dish: roasted hake, stuffed leek, clams, Alsace bacon and seaweed tuile.
Nathan Cornwell's dish: roast hake with charred and pickled leek, brandade fritter, Hen of the Woods, Palourde clams and chicken sauce.
Oli Williamson receiving his certificate
Ryan Baker writing his dessert recipe with the ingredients of the mystery box
Finalist Conor Bird
Judge André Garrett and Olivia Burt
Caer Timberlake works on his dessert
Brian Turner shares his thoughts on the best dishes
Caer Timberlake's dish: pan roasted hake loin, hake mousse, leek puree, pommes souffle, smoked saffron & clam sauce
Olivia Burt's dessert
Caer Timberlake's dessert
Ben Champkin receives his certificate

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