Roux Scholar announces finalists

Birmingham winners with judges
Regional finalists with judges
12/03/2018 - 07:00
Following two regional final heats last week (8 March), the Roux family has announced the six chefs going through to the 2018 Roux Scholar national final on 26 March, Westminster Kingsway College.

Among them is two-time national finalist Martin Carabott (29) from Hide at 85 Picadilly (London), who was also a finalist in the Craft Guild of Chefs National Chef of the Year (2017) and previously won British Culinary Federation Chef of the Year (2016).

Other finalists are:

  • Ben Champkin (25) L’Enclume, Cumbria
  • Oliver Marlow, (27), Roganic, London
  • Sam Nash (25) L’Enclume, Cumbria
  • Ryan Porter (24) Northcote, Lancashire
  • Fergus Wilford (25) André Garrett at Cliveden, Berkshire

Ben Champkin, who has competed in the Roux Scholar final before, Oliver Marlow and Sam Nash all currently work for Simon Rogan, while Fergus Wilford works for André Garrett at Cliveden House and was also in the 2017 regional finals.

Securing their spot, each chef had 2.5 hours to cook their paper application main dish and a dessert from a mystery box of ingredients given to them on the day, comprising: 100g almond powder, 200ml double cream, 4 medium eggs, 100g plain flour, 150g short-grain brown rice, 2 leaves of ‘silver’ gelatine, 100g medium amber maple syrup, 200g coconut purée and 1 ripe baby pineapple ‘Queen Victoria’.

Co-chairman Alain Roux commented: “What stood out with the chefs going through was they are not only the ones that can cook, but can season. For the dessert, many of them used the rice, but the two best desserts were without rice. That’s what I would have done.”

Simon Hulstone, who judged the Birmingham heat, said: “For me, the two guys who went through have listened, learned, and thought about their dessert. It’s a major part – 30% of the marks. We say it every year that the dessert can win it for you because you can practise your main course, but you can’t practise your dessert. And one ingredient in there has thrown everyone a bit sideways.”

London judge, Andrew Fairlie, added: “This competition never ceases to amaze me; just when you think the standard can’t get any higher, the next year there is again some fantastic cooking.  The judging process seems to get longer each year, which is a testament that we are encouraging young chefs to cook to the standard we are expecting.”

Co-chairman Michel Roux Jr concluded: “A very high standard, with no major mistakes, thankfully. It was a pleasure to taste recipes that were selected. There was some beautiful, very precise presentation. The dessert was a challenge this year, and some rose to that challenge better than others, as usual the simplest desserts won the day.”

Taking place on 26 March at Westminster Kingsway College, London, the national final will be a “complete surprise” for the chefs, who wont be given any recipe details until 30 minutes before the start of the competition. They will need to use the recipe and ingredients for a main dish, either classic or modern, and given three hours to prepare and present it to the judges.

The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony the same evening (26 March) at The Langham Hotel, London, where they will receive £6,000, a three-month placement at a three-star Michelin restaurant anywhere in the world among other prizes.

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