The 2020 Roux Scholarship, which was put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, has been postponed until March 2021.
The 18 regional finalists plus the first reserve, who were selected at the paper judging stage in March, will automatically qualify as regional finalists for 2021. They will cook their recipes for hake, palourde clams and leeks in the regional cook-offs at University College Birmingham and at the University of West London on 4 March.
The chefs competing include Olivia Catherine Burt of Claridge's, Oliver Dovey of BaxterStorey Fine Dining and Julian Elkjaer of Whatley Manor. First reserve Connor Wilson of The Traddock, North Yorkshire, will compete as the 19th regional finalist having stepped in when a chef couldn't make the heats due to Covid-19 restrictions and it would have been unfair to make him stand down, a spokesperson said.
The six most successful chefs will be selected to compete in the national final on 29 March 2021, when Honorary President of Judges Björn Frantzén, from three-star Michelin Restaurant Frantzén in Stockholm, will lead the panel of judges, including Michel Roux Jr, Brian Turner, Clare Smyth, Angela Hartnett and former Roux scholars Sat Bains (1999) and Simon Hulstone (2003).
Chairman Alain Roux said: "Having to close down the competition this year, as well as our restaurants, has dealt a double blow. But optimism and resilience define our industry and the same is true of the Scholarship. We've set dates to reconvene next spring and so the excitement continues! We cannot wait to find our 2020/2021 scholar."
Co-chairman Michel Roux Jr added that with everyone in hospitality "working furiously towards reopening and in many cases to keep afloat" it was only right that the scholarship be postponed until next year.
The Roux Scholarship, regarded as the industry's most prestigious chef competition in the UK, was founded in 1984 by Michel Roux Snr and his brother Albert to enable a new generation of chefs from Britain to train in the world's greatest restaurants.
As part of the prize, the winner receives up to £12,000 to support their career development as well as the opportunity to train under the supervision of a leading chef at a three-star Michelin restaurant anywhere in the world for up to three months.
Pictured is the 2019 scholar Spencer Metzger with his fellow finalists.
Photo: Jodi Hinds