Every two years, the Roux Family arrange a culinary educational tour taking a group of scholars on what can only be described as a gastronomic trip of a lifetime. In the past, scholars have visited Gleneagles in Scotland, Dubai, Italy, Germany, Japan, New York and California. A well as visiting some of the best restaurants in the destination, scholars get ‘access all areas’ to vineyards, workshops, farms and food producers, many of which are closed to the public. They are also a chance to spend time with other scholars, swapping advice, stories and experiences with one another. Although a trip hasn’t taken place since 2016, for various reasons including the Covid-19 pandemic, we hope to resume in 2021 with a trip to Sweden.
Starting in San Francisco they took in all the iconic sights and flavours from Fisherman’s Wharf to three-star Michelin dining at Benu and Saison. A highlight of the trip was a visit to see the 2016 winner Harry Guy on his stage, cooking with celebrated chef Joshua Skenes at Saison – a world-class dining experience of open fire cooking, where local, seasonal produce is ’touched by the hearth.’ The 11 scholars on the trip also enjoyed the best artisan bakeries, cafés and late-night bars. After San Francisco, the chefs went wine tasting at some of the top vineyards in Napa Valley. They had a sneak preview, a week ahead of opening, of Chef Kyle Connaughton’s Single Thread Farm, which stretches the boundaries of farm to table cuisine. The amazing itinerary also saw scholars enjoy meals at three-star Michelin restaurants The Restaurant at Meadowood Hotel and Thomas Keller’s acclaimed French Laundry. For more on the trip, watch the video here on our YouTube Channel and read the article from The Caterer.
2014: New York
The 13 Scholars who joined the trip to the ‘city that never sleeps’ were kept busy exploring its many culinary hotspots, such as Gramercy Tavern and nearby Union Street Market. They also visited original flagship Shake Shack to learn how it began as a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park; it became so popular with downtown workers that Shake Shack was born. The Scholars also visited the Culinary Institute of America, about 80 miles north of Manhattan for a champagne breakfast at The Bocuse Restaurant, and attended the graduation of 44 students during which the guest of honour Michel Roux OBE was awarded the accolade of World Ambassador of the CIA. The Scholars also enjoyed a special dinner by Chef Dan Barber at Blue Hills at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, a working four-season farm and educational centre around 30 miles north of New York City, as well as meals at Roberta’s Pizza, and The Modern, within the Museum of Modern Art. The main highlight, however, was an exceptionally special dinner at Per Se, Thomas Keller’s three-star Michelin restaurant, where the eight-course tasting menu was prepared by Chef Keller, as well as Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Daniel Boulud. Read more about the trip in The Caterer. See video here: here.
In September 2012, 13 scholars took flight for a trip of a lifetime to Japan. Over ten days, they enjoyed an itinerary put together by Roux Scholar 1996 Trevor Blyth who has lived and worked in Japan since 2000. Among the many extraordinary experiences they enjoyed were Gala Dinner at The Peninsula Hotel Tokyo; dinner at the puffer fish restaurant Fugu Fukuji, a restaurant in Ginza, which specialises in serving the highly poisonous puffer fish in a variety of ways; a traditional Ryokan in Kamakura, where they donned traditional Yukata (robes) and then bathed in the volcanic spa before eating Kaiseki meal, traditionally served while seated on the floor. They also dined at Wa Yamamura, a three-star Michelin Kaiseki restaurant in Nara, near Kyoto, as well as the three-star Michelin Kikunoi, in Kyoto; Hachinoki in Kita-Kamakura is a one-Michelin-star restaurant serving traditional monks’ food; and Trevor Blyth’s former restaurant The White Fox. To read more about their experiences, see this article in The Caterer. Watch the video here.
2010: The Black Forest, Germany
The 2010 trip saw ten scholars travel to the Black Forest in Germany, an area of fascinating food producers. The three-day trip included visits to dairy farm, a fallow deer farm, and an asparagus and strawberry farm. The chefs also enjoyed beer-tasting at the Pfungstädter Brewery and a vineyard, as well as the chance to try the Black Forest’s famous gateau. Sat Bains said: “It was amazing to experience the hospitality at the Hotel Bareiss; the way they never said no to a guest and nothing was ever too much trouble. It was just so professional.” See the video of the trip here.
This special five-day trip was organised with the help of the late Gary Rhodes, who was a Scholarship judge for 21 years (1994 to 2015, except 2013). Staying at the Grosvenor Hotel, West Marina Beach, where Gary had his Rhodes Mezzanine Restaurant, the group of nine scholars helped cook a Gala dinner for 70 covers. The five-course saw each course headed up by a different scholar, led by Alain Roux and assisted by the rest of the team. The scholars also visited souks, played golf and rode camels, and enjoyed a visit to the city’s famous Spice Market, where they discovered all the different varieties. Another highlight was a ride into the desert for a meal at the outdoor restaurant Al Hadheerah, where they watched the sunset smoking shisha pipes while reclining on giant cushions.
2006: Tuscany, Italy
For The Roux Scholarship’s second trip, and the first trip abroad, the group of 14 scholars (and three judges) travelled to Tuscany in Italy on a four-day trip that included visits to Amedai chocolate-maker at Pontedera; a meal at the three-star Michelin Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence. The trip also included visits to vineyards including the Montalcino estate, the winery of the Sesti family where the group learned how the family cultivates and processes their wines according to ancient natural methods, guided by the position of the moon and stars. Some parts didn’t go quite to plan, however, as one of the meals didn’t come up to Michel Roux’s standards, as Alain Roux explains: “We endured the first course and before the second course arrived, my father stood up and declared that it wasn’t good enough for his scholars, so we left! But as we walked in the little village, we came across a wonderful butcher’s selling charcuterie and delicious meats. So we bought a selection and feasted like kings in the street. This shows that it is often the little unscripted experiences that we have on these trips that are often the most memorable.”
2004: Gleneagles, Scotland
For the first Roux Scholarship trip, we put it in the safe hands of our first scholar, the late Andrew Fairlie. Staying at The Gleneagles Hotel, home of Andrew’s eponymous restaurant, Andrew was the perfect host and put together a fascinating and exciting, typically Scottish itinerary. Among the many highlights were a meal at Andrew’s restaurant and tastings with some of his local suppliers who visited us at the hotel. Other activities included fly fishing in the River Tay, clay pigeon shooting and tuition; Andrew also organised falconry demonstrations and even bagpipe players. A particular highlight was tasting haggis: Andrew made one for the scholars and Alain Roux says: “It remains the best I have ever tasted!”