The wait is over for 18 young chefs striving to become the 2003 Roux Scholar. They have made it through to the semifinal cook-offs in the competition, one of the most prestigious on the circuit, due to be staged on 6 March.
The chefs (two more than in previous years) had to submit a mackerel recipe accompanied by two garnishes, to be paper-judged.
"There was a fascinatingly wide range of cooking methods put forward and I think our choice of mackerel really gave our fledgling scholars a good chance to demonstrate that this fish is an incredibly versatile recipe ingredient," commented competition founder and chairman of judges, Michel Roux. "The standard and level of this year's entries was particularly high."
The 18 will now go on to cook their creations in the semifinals at one of three venues, London, Bath and Birmingham. The top six will then progress to the grand final at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in London at the end of March, where the main prize is a three-month stage in a three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Europe.
The semifinalists are: Nathan Outlaw, Vineyard at Stockcross; Simon Hulstone, Cotswold House hotel, Chipping Camden; Andrew Jones, Claridge's, London; Brett Sutton, Holbrook House, Wincanton; James Barber, Holbrook House, Wincanton; Ben Webb, Harvey's, Bristol; Matthew Lord, Pimpernel's, Bath; Tony Fleming, Aurora (Great Eastern hotel), London; Garry McKeckan, Aramark Offshore; Jacqueline Jenkinson, Birmingham Crowne Plaza; David Main, Carnoustie hotel, Carnoustie; Paul Dive, the Greenway, Cheltenham; Michael Wilson, Watersreach, Manchester; Lee Clarke, UBS Warburg, London; Steven Walpole, WestminsterKingsway College; David Carr, the Angel Inn, Hetton; Bryn Williams, Orrery, London; Robert McClune, Rudding Park hotel, Harrogate.
British Meat Chef of the Year
Two more category finalists have been announced in the British Meat Chef of the Year.
Triumphant as the International Chef of the Year was Graham Harris, head chef at Belgo Nord in London, who won the day with an assiette of pig's head with Asian influences.
British Meat Student Chef of the Year was Andrew Lester, 16, a trainee chef at Caterer's Adopted Business Percy's Country Hotel near Okehampton, Devon. His roast loin of home-reared lamb secured a fan in judge Germain Schwab, chef-proprietor of two-Michelin-starred Winteringham Fields, Lincolnshire.
"Andrew was working with high-quality organic ingredients; the lamb especially had a wonderful taste and texture and overall he did an excellent job," he said.
All six finalists will compete at the end of March in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire.
AA Chefs' Chef shortlist
The AA has revealed the line-up of chefs for its 2004 Chefs' Chef award. They are: Michael Caines, Michel Roux, Claude Bosi, Andrew Fairlie, Marcus Wareing, Chris Galvin, Bruce Poole, Giorgio Locatelli, John Campbell, Andrew Pern, Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers, and Fergus Henderson.
The list was drawn up from nominations put forward by a panel comprising the current holder of the title, Shaun Hill, Caterer's Amanda Afiya and the AA Restaurant Guide's editor, Neil Haidar, and his team of inspectors.
The organisation will now ask all chefs who hold AA rosettes to register their votes for one of the candidates. The results of the poll will be announced when the 2004 AA Restaurant Guide is published in the autumn.
Past winners of the accolade, now in its eighth year, include Heston Blumenthal, Rick Stein and Gordon Ramsay, with Marco Pierre White being voted the Chefs' Chef of the Decade in 2001 at the turn of the millennium.