The finalists of the Roux Scholarship have been revealed following a tough day battling it out in the kitchen to impress a panel of esteemed judges.
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, today.
The competition saw them prepare a bream dish, the recipe for which they had submitted as part of the entry process, 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 Birmingham judging, 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 in Birmingham. 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.
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