“Speak to previous winners and finalists: if anybody knows how the competition works, it’s us.”
Simon Hulstone won the Roux Scholarship in 2003; it was second time entering the competition and he took part in the finals in 2001
Simon grew up in Torquay and was inspired to follow in the footsteps of his father Roger who was executive chef at the luxury Imperial Hotel in the seaside resort. From the age of fourteen he was working alongside his father in the kitchen at weekends, accompanying him when he took chefs to train at the Ecole Lenôtre (a professional French culinary school in Paris). He enjoyed the camaraderie and fun of the kitchen and the chance to spend more time with his father.
By his early teens, Simon had already won several World Junior titles, and has been a star of the world’s chef competitions ever since. In 1994, he competed in the European Culinary Championships, and then in 1995, he won gold in the Youth Skill Olympics in France. Five years after winning the Roux Scholarship, Simon won the National Chef of the Year 2008. He has twice represented the UK in the Bocuse d’Or, the world’s most challenging and prestigious culinary contest. He was captain of the British team in the Culinary Olympics and was also captain of the English Culinary Team at the Culinary World Cup in 2010 and 2012, as well as representing the UK in competitions in South Africa, Luxembourg, Malta, Canada, South Korea and Australia as an individual competitior.
Prior to winning the Roux Scholarship, Simon’s career saw him work in the kitchens of Hanbury Manor Hotel in Hertfordshire and Ston Easton Park Hotel in Somerset. He spent some time in New Zealand working in Stamford Plaza Hotel in Auckland, while also scooping the award for New Zealand Young Chef of the Year. On his return to England worked as Head Chef at the Bailiffscourt Hotel in Sussex. In 2000, he moved to Cotswold House as Head Chef, where he attracted more attention from critics and guides, before moving onto Cheltenham’s Bacchanalian as Head chef where he honed his individual cooking style, eschewing trends and concentrating more on flavour than presentation. It was during this time he won the Roux Scholarship.
In 2005, Simon and his wife Katy returned to his home town Torquay to establish their own restaurant, using Simon’s extensive knowledge of traditional and global cuisines. The Elephant won a Michelin star after just one year and they have retained it ever since. His respect for using quality ingredients inspired him and his then business partner to establish a farm in Brixham, not far from Torquay. Covering 100 acres, they grow the fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers that supply the restaurant, with produce often used in dishes the same day it is picked. They also raise free-range pigs, turkeys, chickens, geese and sheep.
In 2015, Simon also took over the running of Burridge’s Café Tearooms in Torquay in partnership with his father, serving traditional English afternoon teas and ploughman’s lunches created and served with true Hulstone flair!
Since 2016, Simon has been a judge on the Roux Scholarship, bringing his expert knowledge and culinary talent, not to mention his extensive competition experience to the competition. To read his tips, see his judge’s page here.