Roux Scholarship 2015: Simon Rogan’s Roux Scholarship winners

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With entries due to close on Monday for the Roux Scholarship 2015 we take a look at Simon Rogan who has taken advantage of this classical cooking competition and now employees three winners of the prestigious award.


What do you know about Simon Rogan? Well, he has five restaurants under his belt, L’enclume, Fera at Claridges, The French, Rogan and Co and Mr Cooper’s.

He has three Michelin stars – two at L’Enclume and one at Fera and if that’s not enough he owns a pub, a farm and a development kitchen. A successful restaurateur, chef and champion of classics first, innovation second - in our eyes who better to discuss The Roux Scholarship? Especially when he has so far employed four winners.

“I remember what it did for me personally when my first chef I had working for me won and that was Freddy Foster,” explained Simon. “My conversations with him while he was on his stage at Pierre Gagnaire in Paris, were a catalyst for me to follow the path that I did because it was so interesting, so fresh and so new. What winning the competition brings is that it takes you to a new environment, a different way of looking and doing things and sometimes it takes you off in a direction that you don’t expect.”

Since Freddy won in 2000, Simon has continued to grow his business and in turn encourage several other chefs in his team to take on the challenge. Mark Birchall, head chef at L’Enclume won in 2011, his sous chef Tom Barnes is the current Roux Scholar and head chef at Fera, Dan Cox, won in 2008 – although he wasn’t an employee at the time. But what makes a potential Roux Scholar?tom barnes

“Obviously they have to be able to cook!” laughed Simon. “They’ve got to be able to improvise, be confident – cool under pressure! So many fall flat on their face because all of a sudden they are thrust into this situation. All the guys who make the finals can obviously cook it’s just how they deal with that pressure.”

Winners of the famous scholarship get an invitation to cook and train under the supervision of a leading chef at a prestigious 3-star Michelin restaurant anywhere in the world for up to three months. This in turn means the restaurant which has supported them throughout the experience loses a key member of their staff for that period of time.

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Simon explained: “When you are a small restaurant it is quite a commitment to get them through the competition and then lose them as well – it’s a double whammy. But our organisation is such now that we have a lot of talented people and it’s not such an inconvenience if someone does win, we can always move people around and cover the gaps.

“What they bring back and the PR aspect for the business, it gives all the other guys we have, confidence that they are working within a winning organisation – it does help throughout the company.”

He added: “Mark working at El Celler de Can Roca and Tom just coming back from Hof Van Cleve; they’ve brought back a fresh outlook and a few different ways of doing things. Dan Cox won before I took him on but it’s one of the reasons I took him on because I hold the competition in very high regard.”

In an era were food is very fashionable, it’s an ever changing industry which is highly competitive – so standing out and being inventive is key to survival. With this in mind is there still demand for a classical competition such as The Roux Scholarship, have chefs and their dishes moved on to far for this still to be relevant?

Well Simon believes the classics are the key to success for any chef, he Fera dining straight daylight001said: “It’s very important for any young chef to get a classical grounding, they have to learn to cook first and what they do after that, and the path they follow is obviously up to them. But you must start with the basics and more often than not these days they don’t – everyone wants to go off and split the atom before they’ve done that.

“My food tastes have changed a little bit, simpler and more exciting but the classics are still up there. Some of the dishes they have to cook for the scholarship I think ‘blimey’ I wouldn’t want to attempt them – they look really, really hard. They don’t make it easy and the person who wins is a worthy winner.”

See what Rogan’s Roux winners had to say about the competition in our article.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 30th January 2015

Roux Scholarship 2015: Simon Rogan’s Roux Scholarship winners