Louise Roberts, a chef de partie from foodservice company Lexington Catering, has won this year’s Chef Stagiaire Award.
Her prize includes an all-expenses paid trip to the three-Michelin-starred Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas and the Six Senses Zighy Bay in Oman, giving her the chance to learn from the chefs but also giving her time to enjoy the restaurant and resort themselves.
Andrew Leonard, from the Lough Erne Resort in Northern Ireland, came in second place.
Having joined Lexington as an apprentice, Roberts is from Essex, and has been cooking for just four years. She left school in 2010 to pursue an NVQ Level 1 in Professional Cookery and joined the Springboard Summer School programme, which included working for two weeks at the Hyatt Regency Churchill hotel in Marble Arch.
Both Leonard and Roberts competed for the top spot via a week-long stage at the two-Michelin-starred Dinner by Heston Blumenthal restaurant, and both were judged by executive chef of the Fat Duck Group, Ashley Palmer-Watts.
The competition first asked entrants for paper entries of a written recipe for an amuse bouche and main course using sustainable fish, with ten shortlisted finalists then going ahead to take part in stages at a host of Michelin-quality restaurants across the UK.
This year these included London’s L’Autre Pied, Galvin La Chapelle, Arbutus, and the Westbury; Cambridge’s Alimentum; Mallory Court in Warwickshire; and Lords of the Major, Upper Slaughter.
The Stagiaire Awards were first launched in 2013, and are so-named as they encourage young chefs to take part in stages – the French word for internships in different kitchens – that expose them to new techniques and cuisines, and allow them to learn from alternative environments and chefs.
Last year’s winner was Emily Greenough, then aged 22, from London, who initially staged at Arbutus with Tom Duffil. She beat Craig Johnston, then aged 18, from Maidenhead, who staged at Alan Murchison’s L’Ortolan.
Both impressed their respective head chefs so much that they were each offered jobs in their kitchens.
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