“Be individual, don’t follow the crowd or trends.”
Patrick Thompson won the Roux Scholarship in 1998 at the age of 22. It was the first time he’d entered. He did his stage with Alain Sederens at Lucas Carton, in Paris, and is now a house and property manager for a private client .
Patrick first wanted to be a chef after being inspired by his family who were keen on food and home cooking, and by watching the Roux Brothers' cookery programme on BBC2.
He went on to do his training at Bedford College, doing his apprenticeship at the Woodlands Manor Hotel, Clapham, Bedfordshire, rising from commis chef to sous chef. In 1998, he took the role of head chef at The Falcon Restaurant, in Bletsoe, winning the Roux Scholarship shortly afterwards. With the experience of his stage at Alain Senderens’ three-star Michelin restaurant Lucas Carton in Paris under his belt, Patrick moved to South Yorkshire as head chef of the very successful, 50-cover restaurant Chimneys Restaurant in Bawtry. Here, Patrick mentored other chefs to enter competitions. He stayed until late 2002 when the owners decided to close the restaurant.
Staying on in Yorkshire, Patrick took the role of private chef to the Lord Kirkham, a role he held for eight years. He had aspirations to become a private chef because of the opportunity to work in different locations, and enjoyed the bespoke nature of such a job and it fitted with his longer-term aim of working in private service management. The meeting with and cooking for Lord Kirkham at the restaurant provided him with a fortuitous break into what was a difficult area of the industry to gain a foothold at that time. Patrick used his skills as a chef in a different way: creating family meals and parties for up to 18 guests; preparing food for private flights and for travelling to overseas properties; and planning and preparing hampers each Christmas, and working with a team of gardeners in an incredible kitchen garden. During this time Patrick wrote his first recipe book, The Essence, which came out in 2006.
Since 2010, Patrick has been a house and property manager for a private client, which involves a wide range of skills and responsibilities, including managing a large team of people in multiple departments and locations both in the UK and abroad. He is responsible for the food produced and served to his clients. The experience Patrick gained during the earlier years of cooking, especially the time spent training under Alain Senderens has proven invaluable. Not only does Patrick draw on his cooking knowledge, he also notes how training in a three-star kitchen, with such a passionate chef, instilled an even deeper sense of commitment and dedication to the task. He says that every week, he is able to draw on the experience the scholarship provided, whether it be passing on culinary skills to chefs, inspiring departments within his team, or pushing the whole team to achieve a higher and more rewarding standard.
The Roux Scholarship is not the only competition in which Patrick had success. In 1997 and 1998 he was a finalist in the Academie Culinaire Annual Awards of Excellence, and in 2000 he was a semi finalist in the National Chef of the Year competition.
What did you cook in the final?
Filet de boeuf Camargo, with a free interpretation of salsify. I served this blanched and sautéed with lemon, seasonings and fresh herbs from memory.
How many times did you enter?
I won the competition at my first attempt. I had previously entered other competitions and was aware of the pressure of cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen with judges observing and asking questions. I felt confident that I cooked the beef very well and was pleased with the salsify. Some of the other competitors had entered before, so although I was pleased with my cooking, I wasn’t sure I would win. When my name was announced, I could hear my then head chef whooping, and I was ecstatic despite being very nervous!
What do you remember most about the competition the year you won?
The regional final when Michel Roux Snr complimented me on the main course and the perfect quenelle of vanilla ice cream I served with a poached pear.
What advice would you give applicants?
Be individual, don’t follow the crowd or trends. Question every ingredient on the plate and every method. Ensure the ingredients and seasonal, harmonious and you have created a dish with different but complimentary tastes, textures, aromas and colours. Don’t attempt to do too much, it's better to serve a simpler dish perfectly than attempt too much in an unfamiliar kitchen and environment.
Who are your culinary heroes?
The Roux Brothers, Gary Rhodes, my nan and my parents. I watched the professionals on TV as a young budding cook and my parents cooked very well, always insisting the basics were done well. My nan made the best cakes and served a great Sunday tea where everything had to be perfect and consistent. That ethos has stayed with me for a long time.
What is it like to be a Roux Scholar?
Privileged and no doubt gave me a springboard to where I am today.
Tell us about your current role?
My current role provides me with great variety in terms of locations and how every day is different. Working with a large team of staff across many departments is very interesting and I have been able to undertake projects not generally available to all. The challenge of maintaining a structured system whilst also being able to fulfil an ever-changing diary is very rewarding