The regional finalists for the Roux Scholarship 2020 were announced this week.
Chairmen Alain Roux and Michel Roux Jr are delighted that a new generation of chefs are taking part, having submitted recipes that demonstrate a very high level of talent. In this year’s competition, ten of the 18 regional finalists are first-time applicants and the chefs come from as far south as Jersey and as far north as County Durham.
These 18 chefs were selected from their paper applications and written recipes submitted anonymously to the judges, who took part in the Paper Judging day at The Waterside Inn on Wednesday 4th March. The 18 finalists will compete in two regional finals which will be held simultaneously on Thursday 19th March 2020 at University College Birmingham and University of West London, Ealing.
The chefs competing in London:
Benjamin Champkin, Roganic, London
Caer Timberlake, Restaurant 22, Cambridge
Ryan Baker, Corinthia, London
Julian Elkjaer, Whatley Manor, Wiltshire
Oli Williamson, The Greenhouse, London
Conor Bird, House of Commons, London
Christos Sidiropoulos, The Ritz, London
Stephen McClarty, Restaurant Associates, London
Tobias Smith, The Leathersellers Company, London
Olivia Catherine Burt, Claridge’s, London
Michael Cruickshank, Bohemia, Jersey
Oliver Dovey, BaxterStorey Fine Dining, London
Judges: Alain Roux, Brian Turner CBE, André Garrett (2002 scholar), Rachel Humphrey, Clare Smyth MBE
The chefs competing in Birmingham
Scott Braithwaite, L’Enclume, Cartmel, Cumbria
Jonathan Ferguson, The Raby Hunt Restaurant, Co. Durham
Oliver Marlow, Roganic, London
Curtis Tonge, Northcote, Lancashire
Jac Webster, Angel at Hetton, Yorkshire
Joshua Fulcher, Restaurant 22, Cambridge
Judges: Michel Roux Jr, Sat Bains (1999 scholar), Angela Hartnett MBE, Simon Hulstone (2003 scholar).
There are two chefs in reserve (should any finalists not be able to compete):
Connor Wilson, The Traddock, North Yorkshire
Nathan Cornwell, Moor Hall, Lancashire
This year’s challenge was to create a recipe to serve four people using one whole fresh MSC-labelled gutted hake, weighing anywhere between 1.6kg – 1.8kg (maximum 2kg) and 600g of live whole grooved carpet shell / palourde clams (ruditapes decussatus); together plated with two ‘simple’ or ‘composed’ garnishes/accompaniments. One of them had to include leeks and the other was a garnish/accompaniment of the applicant’s choice. One of these could be served separately if preferred. A sauce had to accompany the dish.For the regional final, competitors will have 2½ hrs to cook their dish, along with a dessert from a mystery box of ingredients given to them on the day. The judges will be looking for recipes and methods, which demonstrate the best balance of creativity, taste, style and practicality in the finished dish.
- 2020 is a strong year for previous applicants to qualify again, with eight having previously competed:
Ryan Baker from Corinthia Hotel, Scott Braithwaite from L’Enclume, Olivia Burt from Claridge’s, Michael Cruickshank from Bohemia, Benjamin Champkin and Oliver Marlow both from Roganic, Oliver Dovey from BaxterStorey, Curtis Tonge from Northcote having competed before.
- Simon Rogan once again proves his excellence as a mentor with three of his chefs qualifying for the regional finals: Benjamin Champkin and Oliver Marlow both from Roganic, Scott Braithwaite from L’Enclume.
- Michael Cruickshank has the most experience competing in the Roux Scholarship, having reached the regional finals in 2016 and 2018, and the national final in 2017 and 2019.
- Eight finalists come from establishments outside London, ranging from as far south as Jersey to County Durham in the north.
- The range of establishments is also well-represented, with chefs coming from luxury hotels, contract catering, successful local restaurants and even the House of Commons.
- The paper applications are judged blind, so judges don’t know their identity or their place of work.
- The number of entries increased by 18 per cent from the 2019 competition and judges felt they were of a higher standard.
- The judges felt that some of the applicants’ costings were inaccurate and that they should have shown closer attention to how much certain ingredients really cost.
- The judges were also looking at cooking timings of the dishes and whether the chefs had allowed time to prepare the mystery box dessert in the regional finals.
Quote from the judges:
Michel Roux Jr: “Hake is versatile, sustainable and it ticks all the boxes; you can really cook some interesting dishes with it. Also, clams, hake and leek are a great, classic combination, and you can see how the finalists have used those classic combinations and have brought in something interesting or different, such as a bit of spice, to make their recipes stand out. The ones that got through are really the ones I want to taste.”
Alain Roux: “Hake is a fish that a lot of chefs use in their restaurant, so we chose it because they weren’t going to be scared of cooking with it. If you look at price and quality you can do an excellent fish dish with it, and it’s also sustainable.”
Clare Smyth MBE: “I do think we have to try and develop the chefs of the future, and the head chefs of the future, so it’s important that the chefs have taken the costs of their dish into consideration when creating the recipes.”
Simon Hulstone: “When I’m judging, I always take the dessert into consideration alongside the dishes as well. You have to ask yourself, are they going to be able to get their dessert out at the same time, or are they filling the whole time with just a main course?’.”
Sat Bains: “When you’re looking at the recipes, and reading them, you want to be thinking ‘oh I really want to taste that’ because we’re never going to taste all 18. You’ve really got to want to eat it.”
Find out more about this prestigious competition.