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Martin Carabott has won the 2018 Roux Scholarship. Martin beat five other finalists in a fiercely contested final held at Westminster Kingsway College, London, on Monday 26th March, where they were asked to prepare and serve Pigeonneaux Valenciennes-style, with a vin jaune sauce. The 29-year-old chef, who was a national finalist in 2016 and 2017.
Martin said: “I’d been in the national final for the last two years but this was much more difficult this year. The dish was difficult, there was a lot of work needed to be done in 3hrs. There’s always pressure when you are watched by these superstar chefs, an added pressure. You need to be disciplined and focused.”
Martin was battling it out against Ben Champkin from L’Enclume, Cumbria; Oliver Marlow from Roganic, London; Sam Nash from L’Enclume, Cumbria; and Ryan Porter from Northcote, Lancashire and Fergus Wilford from Cliveden House, Berkshire.
Commenting on the 35th national final, Michel Roux Jr said: “There was a fantastic standard, six highly motivated and talented chefs. All struggled with the boning of the pigeon, it was a real challenge and not something often found on a menu, but it required a classic skill and that’s what The Roux Scholarship is all about. The judges had a hearty discussion about which was the best dish and this year for the first time really we took in to account their work method, cleanliness, delegation to work with their commis chef and the waste they produced.”
Alain Roux added: “As with all the Scholarship final recipes, there is a core challenge at its heart, this time to debone a pigeon which is a small, fiddly bird. To perform this successfully took not only skill but also time and careful planning. This recipe was a real challenge”.
This year saw the legendary chef Michel Guérard take up the role of Honorary President of Judges 2018. He said: “There were six heroes of the kitchen here. All gave a charming and pleasurable interpretation of the dish which charmed all the senses of sight, smell and taste. Boning a bird is a very important skill, you need to be dexterous in the kitchen. Being a chef is a manual job and you need to be careful with manual skills.”
The six chefs, all under 30 years old, had three hours to cook the recipe, which is inspired by Auguste Escoffier, in front of the judges. Three-Michelin starred chef Michel Guérard, honorary president of the judges, led the panel alongside joint chairmen Alain and Michel Jr. They were joined by Brian Turner, head scholar Andrew Fairlie as well as previous winners Simon Hulstone (2003 scholar), Sat Bains (1999 scholar) and André Garrett (2002 scholar). This year saw the return of Angela Hartnett to the judging panel, and two new judges Clare Smyth and Rachel Humphrey.
The winner was announced at a glittering awards ceremony at The Langham, London, in front of an audience of top chefs and prestigious guests from the world of hospitality.
The winning chef, receives £6,000, and an invitation to cook and train under the supervision of a leading chef at a prestigious three star Michelin restaurant anywhere in the world for up to three months. This, in addition to an impressive list of prizes and culinary experiences provided courtesy of our sponsors.
Photo Credits: Jodi Hinds @jodihindsphoto