Newly crowned Roux Scholarship winner Luke Selby has spoken of his delight at taking the prestigious title, following a cook-off at Westminster Kingsway yesterday.
Speaking to The Caterer
"I am very honoured to be part of the family, and part of the legacy that is the Roux Scholarship. It was my first time in the competition, but I didn't enter not to win - it's a competition after all!"
Selby, who won the Young National Chef of the Year title in 2014, beat five other finalists in the three-hour contest where competitors were asked to cook the Antonin Careme-inspired dish lièvre Á la royale.
"I was really nervous at the start waiting to get in the kitchen. But as soon as I started cooking I was in my comfort zone and actually had a lot of fun doing the dish," added Selby.
The competitors were looked on by judges including three-Michelin-starred French chef Anne-Sophie Pic, James Martin, David Nicholls, Brian Turner and head scholar Andrew Fairlie, as well as previous winners Simon Hulstone (2003 scholar), Sat Bains (1999 scholar) and André Garrett (2002 scholar).
Joint chairman of the judges, Michel Roux Jr, told The Caterer: "It's quite a complex and demanding dish, bearing in mind hare is not something current and not something you see very often on menus. But what we were looking for as judges was core and classic skills and a certain amount of knowledge of how to cook and prepare a saddle of hare. Luke nailed it on butchery skills, his cooking of the hare, his presentation and his seasoning. So he ticked all the boxes needed to get the dish right."
Last year's winner of the competition was Harry Guy, who trained with Joshua Skenes at Saison, San Francisco. Other winners include: Ian Scaramuzza (2015); Mark Birchall (2011); Hrishikesh Desai (2009); Matthew Tomkinson (2005); André Garrett (2002); Steve Drake (2001); and Andrew Fairlie (1984).
In February 2017, it was announced that Dabbous would be closing this summer for a "major new undertaking" set to launch in early 2018.
"Ollie and I have our plans together in the future." Selby said, "I am involved in the new venture with him. I am 26, so have a lot to be involved in yet!"
Selby said winning the competition couldn't have come at a better time as he can now spend time enjoying the prizes which includes: An all-expenses paid trip for two to visit the wine cellars of Laurent-Perrier at Tours-sur-Marne; a tour of Rungis market in Paris with Mash Purveyors team of buyers including travel and overnight accommodation; a day's work experience with Steve Groves, MasterChef: The Professionals winner, at Roux at Parliament Square followed by dinner for two in the restaurant with wines chosen by the sommelier; plus a year's subscription to print and digital editions of The Caterer for one year, plus two tickets to the Cateys.
The chef also receives £6,000 and an invitation to cook and train under the supervision of a leading chef at a three-Michelin-starred restaurant of his choice, anywhere in the world, for up to three months.
The competition, now in its 34th year, is supported by a number of companies including Aubrey Allen, Bragard UK, Bridor, The Caterer, Global Knives, Hildon, the Institute of Hospitality, Laurent-Perrier, Caffe Musetti, Mash Purveyors, Restaurant Associates, TRUEfoods, and Udale Speciality Foods.