Industry's biggest and best descend on UCB for Roux Scholarship semi-finals
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From celebrity chef James Martin to industry giants Alain Roux and Andre Garrett, a dazzling line-up of judges descended on UCB’s kitchens yesterday to oversee the semi-final of the Roux Scholarship, one of the most prestigious competitions for British chefs under the age of 30.
The Roux Scholarship 2018 finalists are Martin Carabott of 85 Piccadilly, London; Ben Champkin of L’Enclume, Cumbria; Oliver Marlow of Roganic, London; Sam Nash of L’Enclume, Cumbria; Ryan Porter of Northcote, Lancashire, and Fergus Wilford of Cliveden House, Berkshire.
The finalists were selected after battling it out in regional heats held simultaneously at University College Birmingham and University of West London, Ealing, yesterday.
The competition saw them prepare a bream dish, the recipe for which they had submitted as part of the entry progress, and a dessert from a mystery box of ingredients.
Joint chairmen of judges, Alain and Michel Roux Jr, were joined by Brian Turner, James Martin, André Garrett (2002 scholar), Simon Hulstone (2003 scholar), Sat Bains (1999 scholar) Andrew Fairlie (head scholar, 1984), Angela Hartnett, Rachel Humphrey and Clare Smyth.
Speaking after the judging at UCB, Hulstone said: “For me, the two guys who went through have listened, learnt, 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 practice your main course, but you can’t practice your dessert. And one ingredient in there has thrown everyone a bit sideways.”
The ingredients included in the mystery box were almond powder, double cream, eggs, plain flour, gelatin, maple syrup, coconut purée, a pineapple and brown rice.
Alain commented: “For the dessert, many of them used the rice, but the two best desserts were without rice. That’s what I would have done.
“What stood out with the ones going through was they are not only the ones that can cook, but can season.”
Chef and presenter James Martin said: “For me, the right people went through from the regional heat at UCB. The people who can cook, season and think on their feet. The dessert was tough this year.”
The national final will take place on 26 March at Westminster Kingsway College, London when Michel Guérard will join the judging panel. The 35th Roux Scholar will be announced at an award ceremony at the Langham, London, the same evening.