The 18 chefs to make it to the regional finals of the 2016 Roux Scholarship have been named.
The regional finals will be held simultaneously on 17 March at University College Birmingham and University of West London, Ealing.
The chefs competing in Birmingham
Joe Bailey, Greenway Hall golf club, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire
Ben Champkin, L'Enclume, Cartmel, Cumbria
Harry Guy, Eden Hotel Collection, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire
Adam Harper, Fischer's, Baslow Hall, Baslow, Derbyshire
Thomas Moody, Lower Slaughter Manor, Lower Slaughter, Gloucestershire
David Scarpato, Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, South Wales
The judges for the Birmingham finals
Michel Roux Jr
André Garrett (2002 scholar)
Steve Love (1997 scholar)
The chefs competing in London
Greg Anderson, Morston Hall, Nr Holt, Norfolk
Martin Carabott, the Royal Automobile Club, Pall Mall, London
Gregory Clarke, Midsummer House, Midsummer Common, Cambridge
Michael Cruickshank, the Montagu Arms hotel, Beaulieu, Hampshire
Scott Dineen, Goldman Sachs (BaxterStorey), London
Luke Fouracre, the Royal Oak Paley Street, Nr Maidenhead, Berkshire
Paul Matthews, Fieldfisher (Vacherin), London
Dimitrios Papapanagioutou, Cliveden House, Taplow, Berkshire
Tim Peirson, Kensington Place, Kensington Church St, London
Jozef Rogulski, the Stafford hotel, St James's Place, London
Adam Thomason, Deloitte (Restaurant Associates), London
Michael Thompson, Fera at Claridge's, Mayfair, London
The judges for the London finals
Simon Hulstone (2003 scholar)
Six winners selected from across the two regional finals will go through to the national final on 4 April, which takes place at Westminster Kingsway College, London. The 2016 Roux Scholar will be announced at an awards ceremony held at the Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park, London the same evening.
A total of 11 of the 18 regional finalists are from restaurants outside London and many chefs have passed through the kitchens of previous Roux scholars.
One of the regional finalists, Scott Dineen, was in last year's final. Luke Fouracre, Harry Guy and Jozef Rogulski competed in last year's regional finals.
Meanwhile, 14 chefs are brand new to the competition this year. Three competitors are from contract catering companies while two are from Simon Rogan's restaurants. Ben Champkin works for Tom Barnes (2014 scholar) at L'Enclume and Michael Thompson works for Dan Cox (2008 scholar) at Fera at Claridge's. Dimitrios Papapanagioutou works for André Garrett at Cliveden and Michael Cruickshank works for Matthew Tomkinson (2005 scholar) at the Montagu Arms hotel.
Competitors will have two-and-a-half hours to cook their dish, along with a dessert from a mystery box of ingredients given to them on the day. The judges will be looking for recipes and methods that demonstrate the best balance of creativity, taste, style and practicality in the finished dish.
Michel Roux Jr, who this year is chairing the judging with his cousin Alain, said: "This year we have an interesting mix of French classics and some modern interpretations. I'm pleased to see lots of imaginative ways to prepare pollock, which I'm looking forward to tasting."
Alain Roux added: "It was great to have the input from our new scholar judges this year. André and Simon have great knowledge of the classics and understand the latest trends and techniques at the forefront of modern cooking. They shared the perspective of what it's like from a competitor's point of view and this kept the judging lively and fresh."
Andrew Fairlie said: "There was a mix of standards in the entries this year. Some chefs underestimate the importance of the written entry. Some good dishes may have been rejected because the recipes weren't presented and described in a way that helps us picture the final dish - that's a shame!"
And André Garrett said: "There were some common themes of brining, water baths and the use of dashi as a stock. What stood out for me was how differently these techniques were applied in the recipes. I'm curious to see what the effect will be on the taste and texture of the pollock."
The Roux Scholarship is sponsored by a number of companies including Aubrey Allen, Bridor, Cactus TV, The Caterer, Direct Seafoods, Global Knives, Hildon, Champagne Laurent-Perrier, L'Unico Caffe Musetti, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, Mash Purveyors, Restaurant Associates and Udale Speciality Foods.
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