The Roux Scholarship 2016 final six: Paul Matthews

The  Staff Canteen

This year's Roux Scholarship 2016 final takes place on Monday, at Westminster Kingsway College, London and there are six chefs hoping to win the prestigious title - Paul Matthews

The Staff Canteen spoke to each finalist to find out more about them, their cooking style and why they entered the competition.

Paul filleting pollock low res

Name: Paul Matthews

Region: London

Age: 28

Works at: Vacherin at Fieldfisher

Job role: Head chef

Cooking background: I found a passion for it from a young age through cooking for my family, a lot of chefs have a similar story. It was actually Jamie Oliver who inspired me to be a chef from watching NakedChef on the TV as a youngster and then it just materialised through cookery classes at school. It was such a great buzz and I wanted to chase that, which is what I’ve done. I stuck to it, put my head down and now I’m here.

Who influences you most in cooking? I fell into training under chefs that have done time at Le Gavroche with the Roux brothers. So my training has been very much Roux throughout my entire career until I became a head chef. I actually won a competiton eight years ago which was judged by Michel Roux Jr and Albert Roux, an internal competition for Compass. Their passion for classic cookery was what I was taught at college and that has stayed with me throughout my whole career. Obviously is has started to modernise now but classical cookery is an integral part of the way I cook and what I put on a plate.

How are you feeling about the Roux Scholarship? In 2008 Dan Cox became a Roux Scholar and I fell under him as an apprentice out of college. He literally took me under his wing and I had one-on-one training from him daily and his head chef was David Shinder who had previously done 10 years at Le Gavroche. I worked under two passionate chefs who showed me everything which has really benefited me. I just thought, as Dan won it when he was 28 and I’ve now been head chef for a couple of years and I’ve started to feel really confident in every part of the kitchen and what I can achieve; I thought I was ready this year more than any other year. I’ve been building up to the Roux Scholarship by doing other competitions; I came third against Alyn Williams in 2012. So it’s not my first competition and I felt quite confident going in this year. Now that I’m 28 I’ve only got two more attempts to do it and I will take them but I plan to do it in one and I just think that I’m ready now. To become a scholar it’s not about winning a competition, it’s far more than that.

What are your ambitions in cooking? I have an investor, so I do plan to go forward and do something myself but obviously if I became a scholar the wisest thing to do really is to start building a brigade of scholars for myself and for the future industry. Scholars are respected and you have to be a certain caliber so why not build a brigade of them? If I was to become a scholar the best thing for me to do would be to put my chefs through it and test their abilities.

Read more about The Roux Scholarship 2016 final six here

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.

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 31st March 2016

The Roux Scholarship 2016 final six: Paul Matthews