“The Roux Family's impact and contribution on food in the UK, through training what are now world-class, leading chefs, and of course the scholarship, can't be matched. ”
Martin Carabott won the Roux Scholarship in March 2018, at the age of 29. It was his third time in the finals.
Just before taking part in the 2019 competition, Martin started as senior sous chef at Ollie Dabbous’ restaurant Hide, which launched in April 2018 and gained its first Michelin star in the 2019 guide. Hide is set over three levels – fine dining restaurant Above, Casual Dining at Ground and a bar named Below. In spring 2021, Martin was promoted to Head Chef at Above, having been Senior Sous Chef at Ground. Prior to this, Martin worked at Luca and the Royal Automobile Club, as senior sous chef in both establishments, as well as at the Michelin-starred Apsley’s restaurant, under Heinz Beck, in the Lanesborough Hotel.
Martin – who is originally from Malta – is no stranger to competitions and was a finalist in the 2016 Craft Guild of Chefs National Chef of the Year competition, having won the British Culinary Federation Chef of the Year earlier that year. In May 2014 he was awarded the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Annual Award of Excellence, and in May 2013 he was named winner of the Club Secretaries and Managers Association Award for Culinary Excellence.
What did you cook in the final?
I cooked pigeon Valenciennes style, which included completely deboning a pigeon from the back, making a sauce with bones and trim and finishing with vin jaune, creating a farce, stuffing and braising the pigeons, polenta timbale stuffed with mushrooms and glazed with a cheese sauce, and a carrot and spinach garnish.
How many times did you enter?
I entered the Roux Scholarship three times in total, and although it was not my final chance, I was elated when I won third time round and did not need to do it again.
What do you remember most about the competition the year you entered?
I remember when my name was announced, the feeling is surreal. Having my family there made it even more special.
What advice would you give applicants?
I would really recommend taking your time with your application; often good chefs fail at the first hurdle by not paying too much attention to costings, recipes etc. This will be the first impression you make with the judges.
Who are your culinary heroes?
First and foremost, the Roux Family; the impact and contribution they have made to food in the UK, through training what are now world-class, leading chefs, and of course the scholarship, can't be matched. Also the late great Andrew Fairlie, which, albeit mostly indirectly has helped me pursue professional cooking with the right mindset and inspired me throughout.
Tell us about your current role and career highlights?
I currently work at Hide in Mayfair as head chef of Above, having worked at a number of places around in the UK including Luca restaurant, the Royal Automobile Club, Apsley's, a Heinz Beck restaurant and Gleneagles in Scotland. Prior to winning the Roux Scholarship, I won the British Culinary Federation Chef of the Year in 2016.