April Lily Partridge named Roux Scholar 2023
April Lily Partridge of the Ledbury in London has been named 2023 Roux Scholar following a fierce competition final at Westminster Kingsway College in London today (3 April).
At the start of day Roux Scholarship chairmen Michel Roux Jr and Alain Roux told the six competitors it was great achievement to reach the final of the competition, but that 2023 would be slightly different to previous years.
The finalists were tasked with creating pâté chaud de lotte: hot monkfish pie, inspired by the Troisgros family, with Michel and César Troisgros joint honorary presidents of judges for the 2023 competition.
Whole monkfish tail and whole black truffles had to be used within the dishes but, in a first for the competition, chefs were invited to select from a table of more than 50 ingredients and told to bring their own style to an interpretation of the dish, with Michel asking to see "classic technique, classic skill, flair and imagination".
Michel said: "The changes are there to help our finalists showcase their skills to a maximum, so we've removed the constraints of a fixed recipe from Escoffier to a theme and the theme and inspiration has come from our honorary judges Michel and César Troisgros.
"I think it's great for our finalists as we'll be looking for the usual high quality of skills and technique but it gives them the scope to showcase their personalities and their personal interpretations."
Partridge, who was competing in the competition for the first time, is the second female winner in the scholarship's history. She previously was the recipient of an Acorn award from The Catererin 2022.
Commenting on her dish Michel said: "We were blown away by her precision and how she ran her kitchen. The honorary judges Michel and César really appreciated the different textures and flavours throughout her dish."
As winner of the Roux Scholarship, she will receive up to £12,000, a two-month stage at a three-star Michelin restaurant anywhere in the world, or the option of a bespoke training programme tailored to her interests and skills gaps, in addition to a number of prizes from the competition's sponsors.
Partridge said the brief had not been what she had expected: "It's really hard to make something that you have never made before – I found that tough." She added that being named Roux Scholar 2023 "would change my life".
Michel and Albert Roux established the Roux Scholarship in 1983 and previous winners include Mark Birchall, Simon Hulstone, Sat Bains and Andrew Fairlie.
The other finalists were Ben Champkin, the Newt, Somerset; Christopher Clarke, Core by Clare Smyth, London; Oliver Dovey, Baxterstorey, London; Sam Lomas, Glebe House, Devon; and Alex Rothnie, L'Enclume, Cumbria.
Photo: Jodi Hinds