Frederick Forster MCA
“If you told me when I was cooking rice in my mum's kitchen many years ago that I would be a Roux Scholar, I would have laughed at you.”
Frederick Forster won the Roux Scholarship in 2000, at the age of 25. He did his stage at Pierre Gagnaire in Paris. Frederick is now Head Chef, Read’s Restaurant, Faversham, Kent
Frederick first wanted to become a chef age 15 after developing a great love of cooking thanks to his late mother, who was his biggest inspiration.
He went on to begin his career in the restaurant industry at the age of 18, having trained at Westminster Catering College. Early in his career he completed stages at The Savoy in London as well as at the three-star Michelin restaurant Régis et Jacques Marcon near Lyon.
In 1990, Frederick joined Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxford as demi chef de partie, where he worked closely with Raymond Blanc before moving to Gordon Ramsay’s L’Aubergine. Three years later Frederick was offered a job at Le Gavroche where he worked with Michel Roux Jr as chef de partie. In 1998 he was offered the position of head chef at Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados where he spent two years. On returning, he worked as a sous chef at Addington Palace in Croydon, Surrey, during which time he won the Roux Scholarship, thanks to the support of Simon Rogan, who was head chef there at the time. Frederick credits him with having played a major role in his success that year, for which he is forever grateful.
In 2006 Frederick moved to Dubai and joined One and Only Royal Mirage before returning to the UK where he was appointed as a head chef at The Ritz London. Three years later, Frederick decided to take a break and work as a freelance consultant. In 2012, he joined The Boundary Restaurant and Rooftop in Shoreditch as head chef.
In September 2015, Frederick joined the D&D group as head chef of Le Pont de la Tour.
In 2019, Frederick took the role of head chef at Read’s Restaurant in Faversham, Kent. Owners David and Rona Pitchford launched the restaurant in 1977 in nearby Painter’s Forstal, moving to the current site in 2000. In wanting to take a back seat in running the business, the Pitchfords searched for four years to find the right chef and were delighted to appoint Frederick, who is enjoying cooking classic cuisine in the beautiful countryside setting.
As well as winning The Roux Scholarship in 2000, Frederick won the prestigious Craft Guild National Chef of the Year Award in 2011, followed by the ultimate accolade, Master of Culinary Arts (MCA) in 2013.
Where did you do your stage?
Pierre Gagnaire at the Hotel Balzac in Paris. The experience was mostly enjoyable. I learned a lot about how a French kitchen works and is run. The quality of produce was first class. I also realised that there were restaurants in the UK that were just as good as ones in France.
What did you cook in the final?
Filets de sole Andalouse, which was fillets of sole stuffed with whiting mousseline, served on tomatoes filled with capsicum risotto, aubergines and a herb-flavoured nage. The final was enjoyable and not too stressful, I was well- prepared and confident. It was a dish that I knew of and all the elements of the dish I knew I could cook well, it was just about believing in myself and sticking to my game plan, which was to produce delicious food.
How many times did you enter?
I entered twice; the first time I made it to the final but did not really understand what the judges were really looking for. I went away and did my research and then came back the second time and won. I was a more rounded chef when I won.
What do you remember most about the competition the year you won?
I remember being very confident from the outset, something I really wanted to achieve in my career, I just felt it was going to be my year, it was that simple.
What advice would you give applicants?
Remember it is a classically based competition, which challenges you on dishes and techniques you don’t see many kitchens doing enough of right now. Brush up on your classical cooking/preparation techniques. Ensure your menu is not too complicated and time-consuming; leave enough time to do a dessert!
Who are your culinary heroes?
All the chefs I have worked for in my career have been great for me; the Roux Family gave me a chance to win this competition and improve my career and I'm forever grateful of that. Chef Michel Jr, in particular, has been a source of inspiration for me: early on in my career I worked at the Gavroche with him but I had to leave Le Gavroche before I wanted to, unfortunately. I lost my way in cooking to be honest. Chef Michel Jr called me one afternoon and had a conversation with me, we spoke about various things but I remember him telling me that if I sorted myself out then I could be successful. I took his advice and things turned out not too bad for me over the years. This was well before I won the scholarship. Thanks, Chef Michel Jr.
What is it like to be a Roux Scholar?
It's an honour to be honest and I still think sometimes 'did I really win the competition?' I like the fact the you can speak to other scholars freely for advice and, most of all, I do feel like I am a little part of the Roux Family. If you told me when I was cooking rice in my mum's kitchen many years ago that I would be a Roux Scholar, I would have laughed at you. Dreams do come true with hard work and dedication.
Tell us about your current role?
I work at Read's Restaurant in Faverham as head chef. Cooking is based on British ingredients with a nod and emphasis on classical cuisine with some modern touches. I work with the legendary restaurant couple, David and Rona Pitchford, who are wonderful people. Read's is set in a beautiful manor house and I am very happy here.