Six national finalists have been named in The Roux Scholarship 2014, following the holding of regional finals in London and Birmingham yesterday.
Tom Barnes, L'Enclume Restaurant, Cumbria
Scott Dineen, Goldman Sachs (BaxterStorey), London
Sabrina Gidda, AIG Group London (Restaurant Associates), London
Richard Pascoe, Oulton Hall, West Yorkshire
David Salt, BNY Mellon (Restaurant Associates), London
David White, Barclays Wealth (ISS), London
It will be the second year in a row that Barnes competes in the final, while Gidda, Dineen and Pascoe have all made it to the finals on their first attempt at the competition.
This year's challenge, held simultaneously at University College Birmingham and the University of West London, was to create a recipe to serve four people using one saddle of venison ‘fallow buck' weighing anywhere between 1.4 kg - 1.6 kg untrimmed, to be served plated and accompanied by two garnishes. One garnish had to include Jerusalem artichoke and the other, a garnish of their choice, served with a sauce to accompany the dish.
Contestants had two and a half hours to cook their dish as originally submitted along with a dessert from a list of mystery ingredients given to them on the day - involving lime, pears and coffee.
The competitors in Birmingham were judged by Alain Roux, Steve Love (Roux Scholar 1997) and Sat Bains (Roux Scholar 1999), while the judges in London were Michel Roux Jr, Angela Hartnett, James Martin and Gary Rhodes.
Commenting on the standard of the competitors, Alain Roux said: "It was great to see a variety of dishes in very different styles. Good use of flavours however, a couple of the dishes didn't manage to control those flavours. Seasoning is key and I did wonder if some of the chefs had tasted their dishes. Desserts were simple, only one was truly adventurous."
Sat Bains added: "I love judging this competition and seeing the next generation of chefs. We had a good set of chefs today and during the various stages everything had flavour, but it goes to show that everything has to come together in the plating. Some had under seasoned and some had over seasoned. Some of the chefs need to improve their tasting skills. They've realised that and I wish them good luck for next year."
The six finalists will now go forward to compete in the national finals on 14 April at Westminster Kingsway College, London. They will be given a recipe, 30 minutes before the start of the competition, for a classic or modern main dish which they will then go on to prepare and present.
The winner, who will win a three-month stage at a three-Michelin star restaurant any where in the world plus £5,000, will be announced that evening at a reception at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park hotel.
White said: "I was nervous last time so I set out to enjoy it this year and I did - now I'm excited about the final."
Dineen added: "I've got a flood of emotions, I feel both honored and humbled - competing in the final will be the pinnacle of my career so far."
Each competitor in the regional finals received:
ï§ £100 Russums voucher courtesy of the Savoy Educational Trust
ï§ A Moka coffee pot plus coffee courtesy of L'Unico Caffé Musetti
ï§ A G-77A 20cm chef's knife with special fluted blade to mark Global's 30th Anniversary, each in a presentation gift, courtesy of Global Knives.
ï§ A visit to the Fairfax Meadow Factory in London where skilled butchers present a meat demonstration courtesy of Fairfax Meadow
The Roux Scholarship is supported by: Bridor, Caterer & Hotelkeeper, Direct Seafoods, Fairfax Meadow, Global Knives, Hildon, Kikkoman, Laurent-Perrier, L'Unico Caffe Musetti, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, Restaurant Associates, Savoy Educational Trust and Virgin Atlantic Airways.