The Roux scholarship – 6 National Finalists

The Roux family is delighted to announce the names of the six chefs who will compete for the title of Roux Scholar 2018 on 26th March, 2018:

Martin Carabott, age 29, Below, Hide, London

Ben Champkin, age 25, L’Enclume, Cumbria

Oliver Marlow, age 27, Roganic, London

Sam Nash, age 25, L’Enclume, Cumbria

Ryan Porter, age 24, Northcote, Lancashire

Fergus Wilford, age 25, André Garrett at Cliveden, Berkshire 

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Facts about the finalists:

  • This is the third time Martin Carabott is through to the national final; and second time Ben Champkin has been in the national final.
  • Fergus Wilford works for André Garrett at Cliveden House, Berkshire. He was also in the 2017 regional finals.
  • Martin Carabott has previously won British Culinary Federation Chef of the Year (2016) and was a finalist in the Craft Guild of Chefs National Chef of the Year (2017).
  • Three finalists – Ben Champkin, Sam Nash and Oliver Marlow – work for Simon Rogan.

The finalists were chosen following two regional finals, which took place on Thursday 8th March 2018 at the University of West London, Ealing, and University College Birmingham.

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Judges

In Birmingham: Alain Roux, Brian Turner, James Martin, André Garrett (scholar 2002), Simon Hulstone (scholar 2003).

In London: Michel Roux Jr, Andrew Fairlie (scholar 1984), Sat Bains (scholar 1999), Angela Hartnett, Clare Smyth, Rachel Humphrey.

The challenge

This year the challenge was to cook the recipe they created for the entry stage. It had to serve four people using two whole gilthead sea bream (Daurade Royale), one variety of mollusc (shellfish); and green globe artichokes. Contestants had 2½ hrs to cook their dish (as originally submitted). They also had to create a dessert from a list of mystery ingredients given to them on the day.

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The 2018 mystery box

The brief was to prepare a dessert for four people using the ingredients supplied. One ingredient could be omitted but at least 50% of the following ingredients had to be used:

100g almond powder200ml double cream

4 medium eggs

100g plain flour

150g short-grain brown rice

 

2 leaves of ‘silver’ gelatine (2.5g each)100g medium amber maple syrup

200g coconut purée

1 ripe baby pineapple ‘Queen Victoria’

Roux Scholarship Regional Finals London 2018

Quotes from the chairmen:

Michel Roux Jr: “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.”

Alain Roux: “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.”

Roux Scholarship Regional Finals London 2018

Comments from Birmingham judges:

Simon Hulstone: “For me, the two guys who went through have listened, learned, and thought about their dessert. It’s a major part – 30 per cent 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.”

James Martin: “For me, the right people went through from the regional heat in Birmingham. The people who can cook, season and think on their feet. The dessert was tough this year.”

Comments from London judges said:

Andrew Fairlie: “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.”

Clare Smyth: “There are some very strong dishes, the dessert was a difficult one, some were simple and clean, and it was completely blind so it was difficult, the trick is to keep it simple, and some got that, others over complicated things.”

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National final – Monday 26th March 2018

The six finalists will compete for the title of Roux Scholar 2018 in the final, which takes place at Westminster Kingsway College, London. This time the recipe details are a complete surprise; 30 minutes before the start of the competition the finalists will be given the recipe and ingredients for a main dish, either classic or modern and given three hours to prepare and present it to the judges.

Legendary chef Michel Guérard will join the panel of judges as Honorary President, alongside joint chairmen Alain and Michel Jr. They will be joined by Brian Turner, James Martin, head scholar Andrew Fairlie as well as previous winners Simon Hulstone (2003 scholar), Sat Bains (1999 scholar) and André Garrett (2002 scholar) and three new judges, Angela Hartnett, Clare Smyth and Rachel Humphrey.

 Award Ceremony

The 2018 Roux Scholar will be announced at a prestigious award ceremony at The Langham, London, that same evening. The winner will receive £6000, a three-month stage at a three-star Michelin restaurant anywhere in the world, and a number of other excellent prizes from our sponsors.

Roux Scholarship Regional Finals London 2018

Comments from the six finalists

Martin Carabott: “It feels amazing to get through to the final again, and I am really looking forward to it and will practise as hard as I have ever practised for anything!”

Fergus Wilford: “I am ecstatic! I need a week to chill out and relax before the final! I am going to read the Larousse Gastronomique cover to cover. I have worked with four of the previous scholars and I’ve just tried to be as good as they are and make them proud.”

 Oliver Marlow: “I’m in the Simon Rogan family, It’s in our blood, it’s everything that we strive for, to be a Roux champion.”

Ben Champkin: “This year was harder for me than before because the mystery box really threw me and I changed my mind about three times before I settled on my dessert. I have great support and am going to really practise and read a lot of books to prepare for the final.”

Sam Nash: “I’m ecstatic, I can’t believe it. It’s my first year, and I’m up against some good competitors, so I’m happy to get through. The judges were quite intimidating at first but then they were all relaxed and made us feel relaxed and they were having a laugh themselves.”

Ryan Porter: “Coming into the competition I thought I was the underdog, so to get into the final is brilliant. Even getting to the final 18 is brilliant. I accidentally put my fish in the freezer and it froze, so I thought that would have lost it for me, but I put it on a warm plate and got it working.”

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