From Rzeszow to Roux Scholar: Karol Ploch’s Culinary Journey

The Staff Canteen

Watching Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay on TV ignited Karol's passion for food from a young age. This early inspiration led him to pursue a career in culinary arts, starting with his education at a local culinary school in his hometown of Rzeszow, Poland.

His journey took a significant leap when he moved to Warsaw to work under Michelin-starred chef Dariusz Barański at Concept 13 restaurant.

Reflecting on his time at Concept 13, Karol attributes much of his culinary knowledge and skill to Chef Dariusz and the restaurant. "It was where I first had access to some great ingredients from all over Europe," Karol shares. "As well as learning all the classic French sauces and techniques."

Karol broadened his horizons after a year in Warsaw by moving to the UK. Initially planned as a one-year stint, it has now stretched into five years. Starting as a commis chef, Karol quickly climbed the ranks to chef de partie at Tom Sellers' Michelin-starred Restaurant Story. His talent and dedication led him to Kerridge’s Bar & Grill, where he has spent the past four years progressing to sous chef.

The Roux Scholarship Triumph

Karol's culinary prowess was recently recognised on a grand scale when he won the Roux Scholarship 2024. This prestigious accolade was a remarkable achievement, especially for his first attempt at the competition. When asked about the experience, Karol emphasised the importance of courage and readiness to work hard. "It takes courage; you must be brave and ready to work hard. After all, it is a very prestigious competition," he explained. He also highlighted the crucial support from his mentors, "I was fortunate to have Tom Kerridge and Nick Beardshaw as my mentors".

Karol's victory was a testament to his dedication and the strong support network around him. "I had all the space, all the ingredients, and the time I needed to practice," he noted. Despite his confidence in his final dish, the competition was fierce. "I was really happy with my dish in the final. I did everything I planned to, but obviously, you never know. All the competitors were very, very good." His surprise was evident when his name was announced as the winner. "I was very surprised. I couldn't believe it at first."

Karol Ploch Roux Scholarship winner 2024

Karol emerged victorious in the UK's most prestigious culinary competition, competing against five other talented finalists: Harrison Brockington from Gather in Totnes; Ben Miller from two Michelin star restaurant Alex Dilling at Hotel Café Royal; Jordan Randerson from Michelin-starred restaurant The Elephant in Torquay owned by 2003 Roux Scholar Simon Hulstone; Liam Smith from Michelin Star and Green Star restaurant Pine in Newcastle-upon-Tyne; Evelina Stripeikyte from two Michelin star restaurant The Glenturret Lalique in Crieff.

Established in 1984 by celebrated chefs Michel and Albert Roux, The Roux Scholarship is legendary for recognising exceptional culinary talent, with past winners including Andrew Fairlie, Oli Williamson, Mark Birchall, and Luke Selby and many more. Since 2017, the competition has been run under the leadership of the second generation of Roux chefs – Michel Jnr and Alain Roux, with the judging panel consisting of vice chairman Brian Turner, three former winners of the Roux Scholarship, Sat Bains, André Garrett and Simon Hulstone, as well as Angela Hartnett, James Martin, Rachel Humphrey and Clare Smyth.

Karol Ploch Roux Scholarship winner 2024

Looking Ahead

Winning the Roux Scholarship opens up unparalleled opportunities for Karol. As part of his prize, he can choose between spending two months at a three Michelin Star restaurant anywhere in the world or a bespoke training programme. Karol has opted for the latter, citing its flexibility. "It is more flexible and works better for the company and me," he explained. "You can do stagés and go for shorter periods to more places. I want to take as many opportunities to do this as possible."

Karol's journey from a young boy inspired by TV chefs to a Roux Scholar is a testament to his passion, hard work, and the invaluable mentorship he received along the way. His future in the culinary world looks incredibly promising as he continues exploring and refining his craft internationally.

If you would like to enter the competition to be the next Roux Scholar, please visit the Roux Scholarship website for more details.

Karol Ploch Roux Scholarship Kerridges Bar and Grill


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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 9th July 2024

From Rzeszow to Roux Scholar: Karol Ploch’s Culinary Journey