“My advice to any applicant is to take your time on your written recipe. It is literally your golden ticket into the competition to be able to cook for the judges. ”
Tell us about your stage?
I spent an incredible three months in California staging at San Francisco's Saison restaurant, which gave me a real insight to how a three-star Michelin restaurant runs day-to-day and the dedication it takes to maintain the highest of standards. I spent a couple of weeks on each section around the kitchen so I could see and learn everything that the menu had to offer. Everyone in the brigade was super helpful and shared all their knowledge with me. Not only was it an experience of a life time but you also meet some lifelong friends along the way who I am still in regular contact with today and its great to see where they are also taking their careers. Not only was being at the restaurant an amazing experience but also being a tourist in the city of San Francisco was unforgettable. From eating in many multi-Michelin starred establishments to visiting the iconic landmarks the city has to offer. A highlight of my stage was having the Roux Scholarship educational trip taking place in California while I was there. Seeing all the scholars and having them dine at Saison was very special. Sharing all my experiences that I had had with them. A surreal moment was dining with the scholars at restaurant Benu. Having Michel Snr to my right, Alain on my left and Andrew Fairlie sitting across from me, it all felt slightly unreal.
What did you cook in the final?
Norfolk black chicken cooked en croûte, cardoon gratin and tarragon sauce. I was nervous before receiving the recipe but all the finalists are in the same boat and unaware of what they will be cooking. I thought to use my research time before the actual cooking wisely and be very thorough so that I had a good idea of how to produce the dish. The final went really quickly but is very enjoyable and once I have served my final dish I was happy with what I had achieved. The only doubt I had in my mind that because it was cooked en croûte you couldn’t actually see inside to make sure all was cooked through.
How many times did you enter?
I won on my second entry. The first time I participated I was very nervous and I feel this got the better of me on the day of the regional final and I didn’t cook to the best of my ability. Returning for the second year I was a lot calmer and I knew how the day ran. Having the feedback from the judges from the first year was a great help too. I recommend to anyone participating to seek this feedback at the end of the day, it only makes you better yourself for the next time.
What do you remember most about the competition the year you won?
Hearing your name being called out as the winner was a great feeling. I can still here my father shouting out from the audience when my name was called. Michel and Alain wanted the winner to make a little speech on stage too and I could feel myself welling up trying to get my words out. I was so overwhelmed.
What advice would you give applicants?
My advice to any applicant is to take your time on your written recipe. It is literally your golden ticket into the competition to be able to cook for the judges. Remember who you are writing it for and make sure you go over it meticulously. Get colleagues, friends or family to read it over too. The more eyes on it the better, in my opinion.
Who are your culinary heroes?
I have many people I look up to in the industry. Simon Haigh has played a big part in my career to date and will continue to do so. The Roux family will always be heroes, what they have done to change cuisine in Britain is commendable. To be a little part of the Roux Scholar family was always an aspiration of mine.
Tell us about your career highlights?
Obviously a personal career highlight was winning the Roux Scholarship in 2016. Also being part of the team to open Roganic and achieving a Michelin star after eight months of opening was a great achievement.
Tell us about your new restaurant
X has been a long time in the making and is something that dreams are made of for a Chef like me. I am essentially creating my perfect restaurant; from the dishes that I have had brewing in my mind for years to the look and feel of the space itself. I am also in the process of forming a great team of people from the ground up, creating something that feels really special. Right now I couldn’t be more proud or more eager to get the doors open.