“Stay calm and think ahead. There is no pressure unless you put it upon yourself.”
Richard Stuart won the Roux Scholarship in 1987, at the age of 21. Marc Meneau at L’Esperance in Vezelay, France. He is now Assistant Vice President (Culinary) at Galaxy Entertainment, in Macau, China.
Born in the Bahamas, Richard moved to South Devon as a child and first decided to become a chef as the tourism industry was beginning to boom in the Torbay Riviera, where he grew up. His family’s Sunday lunch feasts were also an inspiration: his mother prepared four or five desserts, while his father prepared the roasting joint, while his weekend job (aged 14) at a butchery, for which he delivered meats to customers, helped him learn about different cuts of meat. Richard first donned his chef whites at a local restaurant in Totnes but went on to study at Thanet Technical College in Kent for three years. He then became a commis chef at the Garrick Club in London, where he trained in French classical cuisine with Chef de Cuisine Steve Lattimer, who was the one who encouraged him to enter the Roux Scholarship competition.
He went onto to work for Marco Pierre White two-star Michelin restaurant at the Hyde Park Hotel and was part of the brigade that achieved the three-star Michelin accolade. In 1997, Marco Pierre White entered him into the Egon Ronay’s Guides British Meat Chef of the Year, where he reached the final and was up against some of the best young and upcoming chefs in the country such as Frederick Forster and David Everitt-Matthias. Brian Turner was the key judge and, after cooking his three- course meal, Richard was awarded British Meat Chef of the Year 1997. Shortly after this Marco Pierre White purchased Les Saveurs in London and transferred Richard there as chef de cuisine where, in 1998, he retained the one-star Michelin accolade.
Richard spent four enjoyable years with Marco Pierre White but decided to take an opportunity to return to his roots in the Bahamas to work at Atlantis, a resort with a casino and three hotels. His role was to run the restaurant frequented by wealthy celebrities from the US and around the world, and he found the role challenging but also rewarding, helping to develop his brigade.
In 2000, after two years in the Bahamas, Richard was offered the opportunity to move to the Burj Al Arab in Dubai as chef de cuisine of Al Maharra restaurant, where he worked for a year before moving to Hong Kong to join the Derby restaurant at the Hong Kong Jockey Club in Happy Valley. From there, after two years, he moved to Shanghai as Executive sous chef at Shangri-la Pudong, where he assisted the executive chef Eric to open the second tower. After the successful opening in 2005, Richard was given the opportunity by the corporate F&B to transfer to Shangri-la Dubai as executive chef.
From Dubai, Richard moved to Antalya, Turkey, as executive chef of Mardan Palace in 2008, which had 24 food and beverage outlets and 585 rooms. Richard loved working in Turkey for its perfect climate and soil, which produces the best seasonal fruit and vegetables he has ever tasted, as well as the Mediterranean seafood.
In 2010, Richard returned to China to join Galaxy Entertainment as assistant vice president of culinary with a brigade of 611 chefs, working across 44 food and beverage outlets and 1500 hotel rooms and suites, they worked together for a successful opening in May 2011. In 2016, thanks to his experience in Michelin-starred restaurants, Richard was asked by the owner to personally take charge of the resort’s Italian restaurant Terrazza; the result of his hard work was that the team retained the restaurant’s Michelin star which was unveiled at the 2017 Hong Kong and Macau Michelin awards which took place at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
Where did you do your stage?
At Marc Meneau at L’Esperance in Vezelay, Burgundy. The most important aspect of my experience in France was the quality of the products. I learnt to respect the product and, in turn, it respected me. For me, as a chef, this is the most valuable asset I have received from winning the Roux Scholarship, which is thoroughly embedded in me.
What did you cook in the final?
Having been through the regional finals in Birmingham cooking a ragout of ox cheek, which impressed Albert Roux, I reached the finals at the Inn on the Park. I cooked a chartreuse of partridge with three garnishes. We were given three recipes where we had to match the right sequence of method. I can only say that I was so very grateful to my chef de cuisine Steve Lattimer who gave me a solid classical training and this was one dish that was on our menus during the previous wild game season at the Garrick Club, for which I prepared the partridge as a commis butcher, so I had an understanding of how to assemble this classic dish. This involved lining a pudding basin base with the cooked green leaf of savoy cabbage and the sides with batons of vegetables; then smearing the inside with a chicken mousse; then filling the basin with the braised partridges and savoy cabbage; closing the top with a cooked large green leaf of cabbage before reheating in the steamer. It was then turned out onto a silver dish and served with three garnishes, and the braising partridge sauce. This dish involved a lot of preparation in a short time but having knowledge of this dish gave me an advantage over my competitors.
How many times did you enter?
I won the Roux scholarship on the first attempt. I can only say that my work experience and the French classical training with a solid foundation I received at the Garrick Club definitely progressed me to where I am today.
What do you remember most about the competition the year you won?
I do remember my regional final where my main course went according to plan but my dessert could have been executed better, but overall it was enough to get me into the final. I guess that was testing moment as I knew I had to deliver a higher standard in the final. I feel extremely fortunate that I won and joined a small elite club of Roux Scholars of which has grown with so many talented British chefs now.
What advice would you give applicants?
My advice would be to read classical books, which was the advice my chef gave me; be organised, so that you can deliver beyond your own expectations; respect the ingredients and use the best of your skills with the right technique for the right task; stay calm and think ahead. There is no pressure unless you put it upon yourself.
Who are your culinary heroes?
My late mum encouraged me from the beginning with her home cooking, but as a young winner of the Roux Scholarship, my heroes are, without doubt, Michel and Albert Roux who both had three Michelin stars. I recall Albert coming up to me after my regional heat and saying "Young man, I was so impressed by your ragout of ox cheek," which gave me immense satisfaction and inspiration. Then, years later, having Michel come to Macau and spend two and a half days with me, where I had the opportunity to entertain him and get inside his head and gather as much knowledge from him as I could. This was such a valuable experience for me as it was one-on-one, and his advice was second to none. Both Albert and Michel are two massive culinary legends that have given their lives to our industry and shaped it into a culinary destination; travellers come to the UK from all over the world to experience the cuisine of the exceptional Roux Scholars we have today. Marc Meneau, Gualterio Marchesi and Marco Pierre White have all had an immense impact on my career. I have been moulded into a chef by all three of them as this is reflected when I create a menu or dish. I also had the opportunity here in Macau in 2017 to prepare a dinner event for Auguste Escoffier’s grandson Michel Escoffier. This was an incredible experience to talk with him and hear some stories of his grandfather. My last hero Steve Lattimer, who was my first chef, provided me with the right tools and guided me throughout my career and his classical knowledge shared with me has helped throughout my entire career. Knowledge is power!
What is it like to be a Roux Scholar?
It’s a very, very special feeling, even more so now than back in 1987 because the Roux family have made so many positive changes with supporting and promoting the Roux Scholars as well as the bi-annual trips all around the world. I am extremely grateful to be part of this elite club of very talented British chefs. I am reminded of this special moment every day when I come to my office as I have the certificate and photos framed on my wall. That special feeling hits you when someone finds out or asks you ‘Are you a Michel and Albert Roux Scholarship Winner?’
Tell us about your current role?
I have just completed ten years here at Galaxy Entertainment in Macau. I have had great pleasure in opening the hotel resort and food and beverage outlets where I built a multi-skilled, international brigade over a number of years. It’s been extremely hard work with intense competition from our competitors. But, for me, the most important two assets have been to look after the staff and, in turn, they will look after the guests. I guess the career highlights are having a great team behind you and being part of this whole team where Galaxy Entertainment became the number one richest gaming resort in the world and also achieving a Michelin Star for the second time in my career.