Winning the prestigious Roux Scholarship is a road to international stardom. For the 2018 winner Martin Carabott it is a route that follows last year’s winner Lucas Selby into the much-anticipated Hide restaurant, Ollie Dabbous’ new joint-venture with Hedonism Wines that is promising the “world’s largest selection of wine” at your fingertips. Our own Michelin Star chef Roger Jones was at last week’s event.
Previous Roux Scholars include Sat Bains, Andrew Fairlie and Michel Guerard – it is an award that fundamentally underpins the superstar chefs of tomorrow.
Monday night welcomed the 35th Roux Scholarship, hosted at the glamorous Langham Hotel in London. The Roux Scholarship, established by Albert and Michel Roux, and now under the guidance of their siblings Alain Roux (The Waterside) and Michel Roux Jr (Le Gavroche) challenges the very best young chefs to join their ‘Roux Family’ by competing and, hopefully, winning this prestigious competition.
After the preliminary stages and regional heats the final six chefs have to compete on the very day of the awards ceremony and prepare a complex, classic dish based on the founding father of Haute Cuisine, Auguste Escoffier. Previous winners of the Scholarship include the greats of British cooking including Sat Bains (Restaurant Sat Bains) and the first winner in 1984, Andrew Fairlie (Restaurant Andrew Fairlie, Gleneagles), both holding Two Michelin Stars.
Roux Scholars are a very select group of chefs who are then mentored and encouraged throughout their career by the Roux Family and friends. The winner receives an A4 list of prizes with the most prestigious being given the opportunity to work at any 3 Michelin Star restaurant in the world for three months. Other prizes include a £6,000 cash award, trips to Italy, San Francisco, Cornwall and Balvenie 25 year old Malt.
In the words of last year’s winner, Lucas Selby, winning The Roux Scholarship is “life changing”. The six finalists not only have to prepare a technically difficult dish, but have to do this with a team of past Roux Scholars as well as specially invited chefs such as Michel Guerard, (chef patron of the 3 Michelin Star, Les Pres d’Eugenie, Landes, France) all following their exact moves.
The dish the chefs had to prepare was complex and included squab pigeons that had to be deboned and refilled to perfection with sweetbreads, polenta, morel mushrooms and Vin Jaune. These are classic French dishes which test the chefs skills, workmanship, cleanliness and communication and ability to know the classics without the use of modern gadgets – real cooking in other words.
This year’s winner was Martin Carabott, recently at Luca in London and now senior sous chef at the soon-to-be-opened Hide Restaurant. Interestingly he joins last year’s Roux Scholar, Lucas Selby who is also off to work at Hide. So what’s the deal with Hide? Well it is based on three floors in Piccadilly under the guidance of top chef Ollie Dabbous, formerly of Dabbous. However the backing is from Evgeny Chichvarkin the man behind Hedonism Wines, and therefore the wine list is going to be spectacular, with rumours that diners will have access to the Hedonism store around the corner.
The three floors will be based on:
Below – a bar that will offer a selection of Hedonism’s finest and rarest spirits and cocktails prepared by Oskar Kinberg.
Ground – an all-day dining offering breakfast to afternoon teas as well as an à la carte lunch and dinner menu and
Above – where Dabbous aims to “take his Cooking to new heights, game changing”.
Rumour has it that Evgeny Chichvarkin got to know Ollie Dabbous after spending a day in his kitchen.
The Roux Awards are attended by the cream of the Chef world, and the guests are treated to a luxurious evening with caviar, truffles and champagne (Laurent Perrier) in abundance. The Roux Family should be applauded for the superb work that they put into the Scholarship keeping alive the importance of classic cuisine and encouraging so many young people into the industry.