Chef cousins Alain Roux and Michel Roux Jr are to take over as chairmen of the judges of the Roux Scholarship as the search for the 2016 scholar begins, it has emerged.
The judging has been chaired by Michel Roux Snr and Albert Roux ever since the Scholarship’s inception more than 30 years ago, but the brothers are to take a step back to let their sons take over.
The news came as the Roux family invited entrants to apply for next year’s competition, at the end of which the winner will receive the career-changing opportunity of an all-expenses-paid, three-month stage at a three-Michelin-starred restaurant of their choosing anywhere in the world, as well as a host of other prizes.
Entrants must be in full-time employment as a chef in the UK and be aged 22 years or above, but no older than 30 years on 1 February 2016. They have until midnight on Monday 1 February 2016 to submit a recipe to serve four people using: one whole fresh pollock (otherwise known as coley or saithe), gutted, weighing anywhere between 1.5 and 1.75kg (maximum 2kg) and 600g live whole cockles; together served plated and accompanied by two garnishes. One garnish must include button mushrooms and the other to be a garnish of the entrant’s choice. One of these garnishes can be served separately if preferred. A sauce must accompany the dish.
Entrants are not allowed to use or bring any stock or sauce prepared in advance whatsoever for the fish, vegetable or garnish dishes and none will be provided.
Full details about the conditions for entry can be found on the revamped Roux Scholarship website, which has been redesigned and aims to streamline the entry process.
Speaking about the choice of pollock for this year’s competition, Alain Roux said: “We have chosen to shine the spotlight on pollock because it is a delicious, healthy white fish that has become a popular and sustainable alternative to cod and haddock and is just as versatile. I am looking forward to being enticed with appealing dishes that are at once full of flavour but delicately balanced. So, we are seeking a tricky balancing act, which is very exciting.”
In addition to seeing Michel Snr and Albert Roux stepping back from judging, the Roux family also plans to involve previous winners of the Scholarship more closely in the process of determining a winner.
This year’s line-up of judges will include the first scholar Andrew Fairlie, as well as previous winners Simon Hulstone (the 2003 scholar) and André Garrett (2002 scholar). They will be joined by James Martin, David Nicholls and Brian Turner. A prominent international chef is also being lined up as a guest judge although a name is as yet unconfirmed.
The judges will select the best 18 recipes from those submitted. These chefs will be invited to cook their dish, along with a mystery box dessert challenge at regional finals to be held in Birmingham and London on Thursday 17 March 2016.
The final will be held in London on Monday 4 April 2016 and the winner will be announced at a prestigious award ceremony at the Mandarin Oriental hotel, Hyde Park that same evening.
Speaking to The Caterer about the changes to the competition, Alain Roux said: “We will still run the Scholarship as a family thing and with me and my cousin being the chairmen, we will try as much as we can to continue to evolve in the future.”
There will be no immediate changes to the format but the cousins said they did hope to bring the competition more up to date while still keeping it rooted in the traditions of French cooking.
Michel Roux Jr said: “We may tweak it in the future however it will stay true, not necessarily to hardcore Escoffier recipes, but it will definitely be including classic cooking techniques. So for example a Veal Orloff, yes it is a great classic recipe, but the technique is there of roasting a big chunk of meat on the bone. These are classic techniques chefs should have an understanding of.”
Speaking about the introduction of more scholars as judges, he added: “It is bringing in some new impetus and younger eyes to the judging panel which is very important and also we feel that we have got this absolutely amazing pool of fantastic chefs and we should be using them as judges because they have a very important voice.”