Martin Carabott, senior sous chef of the soon-to-open Hide restaurant in Piccadilly, London, has been named winner of the Roux Scholarship 2018.
The 29-year-old chef follows in the footsteps of last year’s winner Luke Selby, who is a fellow chef at Hide, which is due to be launched by Ollie Dabbous and Hedonism Wines next month.
Carabott, who was competing in the final for the third time, beat five other candidates in a tense competition held at Westminster Kingsway College, London today (26 March). The chefs were asked to cook and serve whole roasted pigeons stuffed with forcemeat and sweetbreads, garnished with spinach and carrots, and served with glazed polenta and morels timbales and vin jaune sauce.
Carabott’s dish won over those prepared by 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 Escoffier-inspired pigeon dish was chosen to test the finalists’ culinary skills and work methods. Michel Roux Jr, who with his cousin Alain Roux is joint chairman of the judging panel, told The Caterer that the final was a closely fought contest.
“This was a very tricky dish and there was a lot of discussion among the judges,” he said. “For the first time this year we paid greater attention to how the chefs worked in the kitchen – how they communicated with their commis, the methods they used, their cleanliness and wastage. And overall Martin proved to be excellent in both his working methods and and understanding of the dish.”
The six finalists – all aged under 30 – were given three hours to cook the dish while a judging panel headed by legendary three-Michelin-starred chef Michel Guérard as honorary president followed their progress.
Guérard was joined by fellow judges Alain Roux and Michel Roux Jr, alongside Brian Turner, James Martin, Angela Hartnett, Clare Smyth, Rachel Humphrey, Andrew Fairlie (winner of the first Roux Scholarship in 1984) and other former Roux scholars including Simon Hulstone (2003), Sat Bains (1999) and André Garrett (2002).
Carabott’s success was announced this evening at an awards ceremony at the Langham London in front of an audience of prestigious guests.
He wins £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. Following his success last year, Selby, who will be head chef at Hide, undertook a stage at the three-Michelin-starred Restaurant Nihonryori Ryugin in Tokyo, Japan, under chef Seiji Yamamoto.
Carabott’s other prizes included a bottle of the Balvenie 25 single barrel malt whisky worth £400, dinner and a two-night stay at the Seafood restaurant and one-day cookery course at the Padstow Seafood School in Padstow, Cornwall, and a collection of Global Knives. Each finalist was presented with £1,000.
The Roux Scholarship was not Carabott’s first competition success. In 2016 he was named British Culinary Federation Chef of the Year. Earlier in his career he worked for the RAC Club, London, and Luca restaurant in Clerkenwell.
The Roux Scholarship has now been running for 35 years.
Photos by Jodi Hinds
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