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Roux Scholarship 2009

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The regional finalists for this year’s Roux Scholarship have been announced and the heats will take place on 5 March. See press release below:

A total of 20 young chefs will compete for a place in the finals of this year’s Roux Scholarship - the 26th year of the competition - four of whom have been national finalists before. The judges were delighted by the quality and particularly high number of entries this year, especially in the light of the current economic climate. “During a recession, kitchens will have quiet times, and chefs should use the extra time they have to their advantage – we certainly saw evidence of this in the standard and range of entries this year” commented Michel Roux, co-chairman of the judges.

Gary Rhodes agreed wholeheartedly: “True enthusiasm and love for cooking will always shine through. Even in a recession it never dies.” he said.

Michel added that the fact that entrants were required to devise a recipe for a rack of lamb was a popular choice; “It is regularly seen on restaurant menus, so most chefs have the confidence to attempt it, unlike a few of our challenges in previous years, which may have proved daunting to some potential entrants.”

This year’s line up includes: four past national finalists: Lisa Allen of Northcote Manor; Christopher Golding of Nahm Restaurant at the Halkin Hotel, London; Adam Peirson of Claridge’s and Stephen Stevens, currently at Juniper in Altrincham; six past regional finalists (Kenneth Culhane (Baxter Storey), Cameron Rutherford (Chewton Glen); Robert Barham (The Stafford Hotel); Jonathan Coates (Kensington Place); Mark Birchall (l’Enclume) and Hrishikesh Desai (Lucknam Park). It also sees three contestants with from the brigade of the same Roux Scholar – Quinton Bennett; Kyle Jenkins and Liam Hill, who all work under Andrew Jones at the Westbury Hotel Mayfair: and one who trained under James Carberry at Dublin Institute of Technology (Kenneth Culhane). In addition, Helene Anderson of Ambassade de l’Ile, who works with Scholar Armand Sablon, has won a place.

“It is always immensely rewarding when the judges see the importance that Roux Scholars and past entrants always place on our competition and how this enthusiasm is conveyed to their colleagues.” says Alain Roux, who, with his cousin Michel Roux junior, are taking on more of the responsibilities involved in running of the Scholarship.

As usual, the first part of the judging was "blind": the judges did not have any idea whose recipe they judged – the finalists are selected purely on the merit of their initial submission. And it is a testament to this anonymity that the three chefs from the same establishment won through: “Only when the entries had been selected by the judges did the panel find out that they all worked with Andrew!” He adds.

“We were also pleased to see so many entries from the contract catering sector – obviously following on from Dan Cox’s win last year, we can demonstrate that not only chefs from fine dining restaurants go through to win the competition.”

Other contestants to win through are: Pramod Ghadge of Compass Group; Jordan Annabi of Lochgreen House Hotel; John Murray from St John Bread & Wine; Matthew Street from the Eastbury Hotel in Sherborne; Kevin Sutherland from Baxter Storey; Frederic Aumeunier of the Devonshire Arms Hotel & Spa.

The regional heats will take place concurrently on March 5 at Birmingham College of Food and Thames Valley University . The contestants will cook their best end of lamb recipe as originally submitted and be asked to prepare a dessert from a list of ingredients given to them on the day. The best six competitors will be selected to go through to the National Final, which takes place at on April 6 at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park London followed by a glittering awards ceremony in the presence of the great and the good of the hospitality industry.

The judging panel comprises Albert and Michel Roux, chairman of the judges, their respective sons Michel Junior and Alain, Brian Turner, Gary Rhodes, David Nicholls , Heston Blumenthal and Andrew Fairlie. Guest judge this year is Richard Vines, chief food critic for Bloomberg News.

The Roux Scholar not only wins the renowned three month stage at a 3-star Michelin establishment, plus £5,000 cash, courtesy of the Savoy Educational Trust, which is to be used to enhance their culinary education. As well as numerous prizes from supporting companies, he or she also receives a week’s paid work-experience in New York, courtesy of Restaurant Associates; an expenses paid trip including travel and overnight accommodation to visit the wine cellars of Champagne Gosset at Aÿ, and a trip for two to visit the Caffé Musetti roasting factory in Milan. The Scholar also becomes a member of the elite Roux Scholars Club, which meets on a regular basis for education trips and events, offers special privileges to members and forms a unique networking opportunity.

Each national finalist wins a cheque for £1,000 to further their education, a day’s butchery course, courtesy of Fairfax Meadow, an engraved commemorative saucier from All-Clad, sets of knives from Global plus a year’s complimentary membership of the Institute of Hospitality .

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The latest press release:

The six national finalists for this year’s Roux Scholarship have now been selected, following simultaneous regional finals last Thursday in Birmingham and London . Two past finalists have won through – Steven Stephens of Porth Tocyn in Abersoch and Christopher Golding of Nahm. They will be joined by Helene Anderson from Ambassade de l’Ile, London; Quinton Bennett from The Westbury Mayfair ; Kevin Sutherland from Baxter Storey and Hrishikesh Desai from Lucknam Park in Wiltshire.

Two of the contestants work with Roux Scholars: Anderson works with 2007 Scholar Armand Sablon and Bennett is in the brigade of Andrew Jones, the 2004 Scholar.

The regional finals took place at University College Birmingham and Thames Valley University . The finalists prepared their recipes for best end of lamb, which had been their original entry requirement. They were also asked to produce a dessert from a surprise box of ingredients given to them on the day itself – these ingredients were eggs, milk, double cream, sugar, gelatine, and vanilla.

The standard this year was exceptionally high – not only with the lamb recipes but also with the desserts – demonstrating strong technical skills. Alain Roux was constantly on the phone from Birmingham to his cousin Michel Roux junior (at TVU) to monitor progress and compare notes. Commenting on the cook off Michel said: “The standard this year was quite exceptional and it was a tough call to choose just six. The competitors have, of course, had plenty of time to practise their lamb recipe and perfect it. But when we saw the standard of desserts produced – with minimal time for planning, an extremely tight list of ingredients and in the tense atmosphere of the regional finals – we were really pleased.”

Alain Roux said: "Every year the standard just gets better and better. It was obvious that these talented young chefs are cooking with their head and being adventurous. We saw some excellent examples of simplicity, which it takes confidence to do, and it was also interesting to see a couple of contestants using the water bath method when cooking the lamb."

“Those who were selected showed strong technical skills and great potential, especially for this stage of the competition. We all felt that the candidates were a real credit to their establishments.“ Added Gary Rhodes, who, with Heston Blumenthal, Andrew Fairlie and Brian Turner, judged in London . Alain Roux was joined in Birmingham by this year’s guest judge Richard Vines from Bloomberg and 1997 Roux Scholar Steve Love from the Cotswold House Hotel.

There was a lot at stake – not least the record £5,000 cheque for the winner and £1,000 for the other finalists, courtesy of the Savoy Educational Trust. This money is to be used to further their culinary education, and past winners have used it to invest in equipment such as laptops, books, and of course to extend their knowledge of top restaurant food.

However, none of the regional finalists went home empty handed: they each received gifts from Global Knives and L’Unico Caffé Musetti, plus a commemorative certificate signed by all the judges. Gerry Wensley of Fairfax Meadow, which supplied the lamb for the cook off, was so impressed with the standard that he kindly invited all the regional finalists to join the finalists for their butchery skills day later this month, which is normally just a prize for the six national finalists.

Those who have been selected for the national finals have already won themselves at least £1000, a bottle of Champagne Gosset Grande Reserve, two personalised chef’s jackets from Bragard, a year’s complimentary membership of the HCIMA, registration with the Hospitality Learning Network, courtesy of Hospitality & Leisure Manpower, a free management study unit under the Ecarus Scheme, courtesy of the European Catering Association International, a commemorative saucier from All-Clad plus a set of Global knives worth £250.

At the National Finals on 6 April Michel Roux senior and his brother Albert will chair the panel, which comprises Heston Blumenthal, Andrew Fairlie, David Nicholls, Gary Rhodes, Michel Roux Junior, Alain Roux, Brian Turner and Richard Vines. The Awards ceremony will be held later the same day at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park.

There will be prizes galore for the 2009 Roux Scholar him or herself. Not only will they win the famous three month expenses paid stage at a European 3-star Michelin establishment, but a week’s paid work-experience in New York, courtesy of Restaurant Associates; an expenses paid trip including travel and overnight accommodation to visit the wine cellars of Champagne Gosset at Aÿ for a guided tour of the production process, a trip to visit the Caffé Musetti roasting factory in Milan and a set of Global Knives to the value of £1,000.

In addition to the aforementioned supporters, the Roux Scholarship is also generously supported by a number of other companies including British Airways, Castello Monte Vibiano Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Caterer & Hotelkeeper, Direct Seafoods, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park and Yes Chef! magazine.

And finally, once a Roux Scholar, always a Roux Scholar – they become a member of the elite Roux Scholars’ Club, which meets on a regular basis, organises educational trips abroad, offers special privileges to members and forms a unique networking opportunity. He is also mentored by the Roux family for the rest of his/her career.

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