“ To have the chance to be an executive chef in such a prestigious property as Cliveden House is something I never believed possible and I owe everything to the Scholarship and Roux Family.”
Paul O’Neill won the competition in 2013, the Roux Scholarship’s 30th anniversary year, at the age of 27. He did his stage at Pierre Gagnaire, Paris.
Paul started his career in professional kitchens aged just 15 and got his first big break on a training placement in their kitchens at Claridge’s (working under the then Executive Chef John Williams) after he sent his CV to numerous hotels. By the age of 22 he was working as a Senior Sous Chef for Ashdown Park Hotel and Country Club in East Sussex, an AA 4 Red Star Property with 2 rosettes.
His career has also seen him take on roles of head chef at Felbridge in East Sussex, and at The Ostrich in Colnbrook, Berkshire. It was during his time at Ashdown Park Hotel in Surrey, during which time Paul decided to take part in the Roux Scholarship competition.
That year, the competition’s anniversary year, came with the prestige of being filmed as a TV Series screened on Watch TV. The format of the competition was changed for the series and viewers saw finalists spend time at different establishments across the country for different masterclasses. Paul travelled to Lime Wood Hotel with Angela Hartnett, Luke Holder and James Martin (other finalists went to Gleneagles with Andrew Fairlie and Rick Stein’s Cookery School in Padstow), as well as The Waterside Inn, and Le Gavroche and even to Switzerland with Michel and Robyn Roux. The final was an even more glittering affair than usual, with a gala dinner taking place at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park where he was crowned Roux Scholar 2013.
After staying a further year at Ashdown Park, Paul joined the team at the luxurious Berwick Hotel, Bristol as Head Chef of Hattusa restaurant in 2014, and then in November 2017 he joined the kitchen of fellow Roux Scholar André Garrett as head chef at Cliveden House, Taplow. When André left in 2019, Paul took the reins as Executive Head Chef where he leads a brigade of 26 covering lunch and dinner services in the main dining room, and elaborate functions such as weddings. He creates menus that draw their beauty from natural flavours, and is completely led by seasonality of his ingredients.