Women chefs and The Roux Scholarship
As the most prestigious competition for young chefs, The Roux Scholarship is committed to encouraging chefs from all backgrounds and demographics to enter. Our first round of judging is blind, so each chef has an equal chance of qualifying for the regional finals and are judged on the quality of the recipe alone. However, throughout its history, The Roux Scholarship has, unfortunately, only ever had one female winner and fewer female regional and national finalists than male. Therefore, to address this issue, we hosted a round table discussion on 13th October 2022 with some of the leading figures in the UK hospitality industry to drill down into the issues facing female chefs in Britain today and how this might be addressed in the context of The Roux Scholarship. Our aim was to share knowledge, experiences and ideas for encouraging more female chefs to enter, and then to produce a White Paper report on how this could be achieved, with recommendations for the wider industry and a set of actions that can be implemented by The Roux Scholarship itself.
The White Paper is published today, 7th November 2022. Read it via the link below.
Our hosts for the event were Emily Roux and Diego Ferrari at their restaurant Caractère in London’s Notting Hill.
What the participants said…
During the discussion, the participants’ comments were recorded anonymously so they were free to speak their minds. However, after the event, a number of the participants shared these comments:
Sabrina Gidda: “We need a community of mentors to encourage chefs they know to enter the competition. And for the wider culinary community to get excited about the brief, the competition and the special journey being involved in the Roux Scholarship.”
Sally Abé: “We should encourage people to compete; that would be empowering and give them confidence. We can draw people in and tell them: we will help you do this.”
Emily Roux: “It’s not just about winning, it is a journey: you meet other chefs of different backgrounds, you learn as you go.”
Michel Roux: “I dream of the day we have more diversity in the final – six female chefs and all from different backgrounds.”
Alisha Pereira: “The Roux Scholarship is more than just a competition; it is an opportunity. We need to encourage young chefs to compete. It is great to do something to support and celebrate our upcoming culinary talent.”
Peter Avis: “It is so important that we showcase how much of a fun and exciting and rewarding career females can have in today’s kitchens. We all have a big responsibility to keep changing the perception of working conditions in kitchens today.”
Main picture: Ruth Hansom competing in the 2022 Roux Scholarship final.
Round table participants
Michel Roux Jr
As co-chairman of The Roux Scholarship Michel Roux Jr is committed to encouraging chefs from all backgrounds and demographics to enter the competition. With this in mind,
Emily Roux opened her restaurant Caractère with her husband Diego Ferrari in 2018, which builds on her extensive experience gained in some of the best restaurants in France, including stints in two of Alain Ducasse’s restaurants, La Trattoria and then to the three-star Michelin Le Louis XV and as demi-chef de partie at the one-starred Le 395 in Paris and then junior sous-chef at the two-starred Akrame. She also works with her father Michel as part of Chez Roux event catering.
Executive Head Chef of Le Gavroche and Roux Scholarship judge, Rachel took part in several competitions as a young chef, and between working her way up the ranks at Le Gavroche, she spent some time working for the RAF. Find out more about Rachel on her Judge’s page.
As part of her role as consultant chef at London’s Conrad St James, Sally leads a mostly female kitchen brigade at of The Pem restaurant and she is a great champion of promoting the talents of female chefs. Her extensive experience includes roles at The Savoy, Claridge’s, The Ledbury, Elystan Street and The Harwood Arms. Sally’s restaurant, The Pem, named after suffragette Emily Wilding Davison, opened in Conrad London St. James in July 2021 and Sally was named Squaremeal’s Ayala Female Chef of the Year 2021.
Chef and culinary consultant Sabrina was twice a national finalist in The Roux Scholarship in 2014 and 2015 and went on to open Bernardi’s Restaurant in Marylebone. From there she became the Executive Chef at Allbright, a women’s members club based in London & Los Angeles. She has been a judge on Masterchef and competed in the TV competition Great British Menu, earning 10/10 on her fish dish from acclaimed chefs Paul Ainsworth and Daniel Clifford.
Miranda has been Curriculum Manager for Hospitality Westminster Kingsway College, Thermomix adviser and Disciple d’Auguste Escoffier, Miranda is a classically trained chef with an excellent competition career behind her. Miranda has more than 30 years of expertise in hospitality; including culinary training, design and delivery in Further Education and in the private sector for Mosimann’s Academy, Butler’s Wharf Chef school, Billingsgate Fish School.
Alisha Pereira is Head Banqueting Chef at the Hilton Bankside Hotel and has more than a decade of hospitality expertise. She and is one of the brightest talents to have emerged in the banqueting industry during the past few years. After completing a degree in Advanced Culinary Arts went on to work as a banqueting chef alongside world renowned chefs. She continued her career in the Middle East and the United Kingdom where has she worked at high quality restaurants and hotels such as Four Seasons at the Park Lane and The Dorchester, where she headed the banqueting team.
Peter Avis has been the General Manager of the award-winning restaurant Galvin at Windows and 10 Degrees Sky Bar at London’s Hilton on Park Lane since February 2020. For 15 years, Peter played an integral role in the Virgin Group, including the role of General Manager at the renowned Babylon Restaurant at the London Roof Gardens. He has many awards to his name, including The Catey Award for Manager of the Year 2014 and the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee medal. In 2014, he was appointed Chairman of the UK Guild of Restaurant Services. Peter is also Vice Chairman the IOH and continues to mentor young people and show them what great career hospitality can be.
Since 1995 David has been a non-executive board member of both The Waterside Inn and the Roux Scholarship and has extensive experience of running a variety of progressive businesses across a number of business sectors. He is also currently the Chairman of Finance and Human Resources for a large multi-academy trust which employs over 1,200 staff and educates some 11,000 secondary school students. He is therefore especially aware of discrimination and gender bias insofar as it affects employees and young people.
Moderator: Sarah Peters, Institute of Hospitality.
White Paper author: Catherine Chetwynd
Roux Scholarship PR & Communications Manager: Carolyn Boyd
News editor, The Caterer: Sophie Witts