Spencer Metzger, premier sous chef at the Ritz London, has scooped the Roux Scholarship 2019.
The chef impressed the judges with his version of monkfish blanquette and langoustines with a Champagne sauce, saffron basmati rice and asparagus subrics, which he created at a cook-off earlier today at Westminster Kingsway College, London. The recipe was provided by the Roux family and inspired by Jules Gouffé, pupil of Antonin Carême.
In a tense final, Metzger beat five other candidates who included Ryan Baker, also of the Ritz London; Olivia Catherine Burt of Claridge's, London; Michael Cruickshank, Bohemia, Jersey; Adam Harper, the Cavendish hotel, Baslow, Derbyshire; and Lewis Linley, Vacherin, London.
After being crowned Metzger told The Caterer: "It's a real honour and a real privilege to be part of the family. It's great, there are amazing prizes, but the real award is to be part of the family."
He was announced as the winner this evening at a glittering ceremony held at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London, during which the life of inaugural scholar Andrew Fairlie was celebrated. Fairlie, who won the Roux Scholarship in 1984, died from a brain tumour in January.
Michel Roux Jr said: "Andrew was always smiling, always positive and he would not have wanted us to be sad on this occasion. The competition very much mirrors the person Andrew was, uplifting and about giving back."
John Williams, executive chef of The Ritz - who was the first person thanked by Metzger after he received the prize, told The Caterer that his premier sous chef is a "very special young man".
He added: "You know when you have people like that you have a special time ahead."
The six finalists - all aged under 30 - were given three hours to cook the dish while a judging panel, headed by Australian chef Peter Gilmore (pictured with Metzger) of the Quay restaurant in Sydney, as honorary president followed their progress.
Gilmore was joined by fellow judges Alain Roux and Michel Roux Jr, alongside Brian Turner, James Martin, Clare Smyth and former Roux scholars Sat Bains (1999) and André Garrett (2002).
Metzger won £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. Last year's winner Martin Carabott of Hide restaurant, London, undertook his scholarship at Eleven Madison Park under chef-proprietor Daniel Humm.
Other prizes included dinner and a two-night stay at Rick Stein's Seafood restaurant in Padstow, Cornwall; a trip to Rungis Market, Paris; and a four-night trip to New York.
The Roux Scholarship has been running for 36 years.Get The Caterer every week on your smartphone, tablet, or even in good old-fashioned hard copy (or all three!).