Jonnie Ferguson, Roux Scholar 2022: 'It's pretty surreal'

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor

Yesterday, 26 year-old Jonnie Ferguson was named the Roux Scholar for 2022

In an interview with The Staff Canteen, the chef, who started his career as an apprentice at Trinity in Clapham, before working at Glasgow's Cail Bruich, Restaurant Andrew Fairlie and The Raby Hunt, before joining The Glenturret Lalique last year, said: "It's pretty surreal."

The final, which was held at Westminster Kingsway College and judged by Hélène Darroze, Michel Roux Jr., Alain RouxJames MartinAndré GarrettClare SmythSimon HulstoneSat Bains and Brian Turner CBE, hours before the winner was announced, was "another amazing experience," he added, six months after competing in the finals for the Roux Scholarship 2021

"It was a bit of a daunting one when they gave us the actual dish and put the recipes in front of us," as the chaud-froid of of Merrifield duck à l'orange with chartreuse of asparagus was something he had never cooked before. 

"It threw me off for a couple of minutes, but we had half an hour to try and work out what we were going to cook, so I settled into it pretty quickly and managed to plot my course from there and try and come up with something - which apparently went down quite well." 

The competition in the room - chefs Kieran Bradley of The Vineyard Hotel in Stockcross, Newbury; head chef at The Princess of Shoreditch, Ruth Hansom; Yiannis Mexis, of Hide; Christos Sidiropoulos, of Flemings Mayfair and George Whitelock, Angler’s Restaurant - he said, "felt really strong." 

Jonnie was fourth to present his dish, so had time to see what the others were putting out before and after him, "and everything looked really sharp." 

Having reached the finals in the competition last year, which was delayed due to the pandemic, and as entries for the next competition opened just a week later, he added, "it was nice to get straight back into it, it felt like the process didn't really stop."

The chef has had a busy six months - between his move from The Raby Hunt, taking part in the last competition, Christmas and The Glenturret winning a star in the Michelin Guide for Great Britain and Ireland 2022, "It's been a bit hectic," he laughed, "but worth it." 

The support he has received from his head chef, Mark Donald, has been invaluable, he said. The chef helped him create his entries, doing run-throughs with him, working extra hours at the restaurant and after close to help him secure a spot in the finals. Even last night, when Jonnie was celebrating his victory, "he was up at Glenturret," he said, "doing prep for me so I can be here."

"The thing with Mark is, I never ask him for it, he just does it," he said. 

As for where he might do his stage, which, as part of winning the competition, allows him to do a stint at the three Michelin-starred restaurant of his choice, anywhere in the world, he said, "I'm still spinning on that one, with three star restaurants flying through my head now it's actually a reality." 

"It was all well and good before, saying, 'oh well I'm not really sure where I want to go,' now I actually have to think about where I want to go.'" 

"It's definitely something I want to speak to more of the judges and past scholars about - ask where they would go, if it was them now," he added. 

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 12th April 2022

Jonnie Ferguson, Roux Scholar 2022: 'It's pretty surreal'