The Roux Scholarship winners: where are they now? (part 2)

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 15th January 2015

With the Roux Scholarship 2015 competition closing on January 30 2015, today The Staff Canteen took a look at the scholarship's previous 31 winners.

We ask Mercy Fenton, Chris Colmer, Trevor Blyth, Steve Love, Patrick Thompson, Sat Bains, Frederick Forster, Steve Drake, Andre Garrett and Simon Hulstone; where they chose to do their stage and about their careers since the competition. 

Sat Bains - 1999Sat Bains

Sat Bains did his stage at Le Jardin de Sens in the south of France. On his return he became head chef at the Hotel des Clos in Nottingham, which he took over 2005 and re-branded Restaurant Sat Bains with Rooms. It's received numerous difficult to achieve awards including 5 rosettes in the 2009-2010 AA Restaurant Guide and has held two Michelin stars since 2011.

>>> Read more about Sat Bains here

chris colmerChris Colmer - 1995

Chris Colmer chose to do his stage with Pierre and Michel Troisgros at Restaurant Troisgros in Roanne.

He said: "It was an amazing lifetime experience, truly inspirational. It gave me true focus on how I evolved as a chef, taking on all of the advice and experienced gained working in my chosen stage. I simplified my style and focused on delivering balanced, clean flavours on a plate that were harmonious with each other."

He returned to his job as head chef at the Greenway Hotel, and then moved on to Bailiffscourt Hotel before becoming head chef at the Relais Chateau Ynyshir Hall. Leaving the hotel trade, he became a development chef at Bakkavor Group, an international manufacturer in the fresh prepared foods market, and is now a development manager.

"The scholarship has given true confidence and inner belief to deliver my goals," explained Chris. "It's the pinnacle of competitions for young chefs to show their skills, and then build on these with the support of the Roux Family, previous scholarship winners and the opportunity to work with the best chefs in the world. It allows the chef to evolve and become potentially the next shining star."

Mercy Fenton - 1994

Mercy Fenton did her stage at La Residence de la Cote-d'Or with Bernard Loiseau, in Saulieu, France. She said: "Unfortunately I didn't really enjoy my placement.I may have been unlucky with timing - the sous chef had had a bike accident and wasn’t there and Bernard was rarely there.

"Thinking about it though I loved being in France and my visit to Champagne Gosset was amazing - the highlight of the trip."

She added: "To be fair the Roux brothers offered me a placement at Le Gavroche on my return to make up for it but I didn't take them up on it."

>>> Read more about the Roux brothers here

Mercy moved to London after this, working at dell' Ugo and Stephen Bull. "The Scholarship was a huge benefit to me on my return to England," she explained. "I quickly got a job as sous chef at dell' Ugo, Frith Street, which I loved and shortly after as head chef in Stephen Bull's restaurant, Blandford St London."

After a year's travelling, she returned to her home of Ireland, she said: "Definitely my exposure after the Roux Scholarship and The Restaurant Association's Young Chef of the Year were key to my gaining the head chef position of a new restaurant at the time in Cork City - Jacobs on the Mall, which I ran for 11 years. I have two young children now, and I have set up a new dessert business in Ireland called Wicked Desserts."

She added: "It's a fabulous competition, I still feel very proud to have entered it and won."

Trevor Blyth - 1996

Trevor Blyth did stages in two restaurants: Alain Roux's Waterside Inn in Bray and La Cote Saint-Jacques with Jean-Michel Lorain in Burgundy, France.Trvor Blyth

He said: "My stage at La Cote Saint Jacque was a great experience. During my time there I was able to get thoroughly involved on each section in the kitchen and all the chefs were professional, friendly and keen to teach me as much as possible. I also joined overnight trips to Rungis market and to local farms to pick up specific products like Bresse chicken and suckling pigs. I had a great time!"

After this he was head chef at the Mallory Court Hotel in Leamington Spa and the Pelham Street restaurant in London. He moved to Japan in 2001 as head chef of Barakura English Garden in Nagano. Later he moved on to be head chef at Kayumanis in Tokyo before finally establishing The White Fox restaurant in Tokyo in 2006, where he remains chef patron.

Trevor said: "Apart from the genuine kudos that goes with being a Roux Scholarship winner, once you've won the scholarship you join a family; everyone an individual but with a single common interest, food! We meet up bi-annually for a gastronomic food tour, which is always amazing. You can ask questions, share opinions and take advice any time from Michel Roux, the Roux family and any of the other Scholars. And top chefs around the world have a very high regard for what The Roux Scholarship has become. On our latest study tour to New York, during our meal at Per Se, Daniel Boulud commented to Thomas Keller, 'look at their camaraderie, I told you they're like a small army'." Steve Love profile pic

Steve Love - 1997

Steve Love chose to do his stage with Alain Ducasse at Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee in Paris. After returning, he worked alongside Gary Jones at Waldo's Restaurant in Clivedon. He then became head chef at Mallory Court before opening Loves in the same town. The restaurant reopened in Birmingham in 2009.    

>>> Related: Loves Restaurant closes its doors after a successful six years

Patrick Thompson - 1998 patrick thompson

Patrick Thompson did his stage with Alain Senderens at Lucas Carton on Michel Roux's recommendation. He is currently a private chef.    

Frederick Forster - 2000

Frederick chose to do his stage with Pierre Gagnaire in Paris. He said: "Doing the chosen stage for me at Pierre Gagnaire was tough at first, simply because my French was not great and it took some time to understand what was wanted of me. After the first month I started to improve and really enjoyed my time there." Frederick-Forster-roux-scholar-2000

After winning the award, he took his first head chef role at the Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados, followed by the Royal Mirage Hotel in Dubai. When he returned to London, he was headhunted for his current role of head chef at The Boundary restaurant. He also received the Craft Guild of Chefs National Chef of the Year Award in 2011 and the Master of Culinary Arts in 2013.

>>> Read more from the Craft Guild of Chefs' National Chef fo the Year here

Frederick explained: "Winning the scholarship has really helped my career and changed my life a bit. It is a competition that says 'quality and class' and everyone in the trade knows that, so to be a winner is a great honour for me."

He added: "I would encourage anyone to enter as it is a great competition and a life and career changing moment if you win. "Focus on taste and technique would be my advice, whilst mixing the classic with the modern."

Steve Drake - 2001

Steve Drake chose to do his stage with Marc Veyrat at his restaurant in Veyrier-du-Lac, France because he wanted to work with someone who pushed the boundaries.steven_drake_0207

He said: "It was like entering another world. At that point in my career I had never worked in France and only eaten there a couple of times, so the knowledge I was able to pick up in a relatively short space of time was unbelievable. Many chefs now call themselves foragers, but Marc Veyrat really was - he would take his staff in a few Land Rovers up into the hills and mountains at 5am to collect all manner of incredible ingredients - a true pioneer and inspiration."

At the time of winning the scholarship, he was working as head chef at Drake's on the Pond. He left the position shortly afterwards and began running his own restaurant, Drake's. It earned a Michelin star in the first year of its opening and has held it consistently since 2005.

"The scholarship gives you the most incredible confidence and ironically it's not just about the initial win," explained Steve. "Years later it keeps giving, as we are all a bunch of like-minded chefs who want to be the best we can be."

>>> Related: Steve Drake's new solo restaurant to open four days a week

Andre Garrett - 2002

When he won, Andre Garrett knew he wanted to go to Paris and so chose to do his stage with Guy Savoy in the capital. Andre Garrett at Cliveden 1He said: "Guy Savoy had been awarded three stars the year before I won and it fitted the food style I wanted to experience exactly. I was fully integrated into the sections within the kitchen and moved every couple of weeks to another section so I could fully understand the whole set up; by the end I was running the sauce section with another CDP and was so proud and lucky to be engaged like this, this would not have happened like this if I wasn't on the Roux Scholarship Stage."

When he won, he was working as head chef at Orrery. He returned to the position until 2006, when Galvin at Windows was launched. He was appointed head chef there until 2013, where he became executive chef at Cliveden House.

Andre said: "Winning brought my name into the thoughts of everyone in the trade and gave me the confidence and support to take over from Chris when he decided to finish and hand over the reins at Orrery. Winning the Scholarship also is not a one year tenure, we are lucky to have gone on some great trips and the Roux family is always there as support and friendship."

>>> Read more about Andre here

Simon Hulstone - 2003

Simon was the first Roux Scholar to do his stage in Spain. He chose to train with Martin Berasategui at his eponymous restaurant in the Basque region of the country.Simon Hulstone

He said: "It was a great choice not only in the fact Spain was at the time the leading culinary trend, but also the area I was in was rich with amazing restaurants, and the days that my restaurant was closed didn't coincide with the other restaurants, so I got to eat out a lot."

Simon went on to become chef proprietor of the Michelin starred restaurant The Elephant in Torquay. He has twice represented the UK in the Bocuse d'Or and been captain of the English team in the Culinary Olympics.

He added: "The Scholarship is probably the most tight-knit group of young and now not-so-young chefs in the country. It is very elite to be a scholar and I can say without hesitation that 11 years after winning the scholarship, it is still rewarding me with great experiences and every year another brilliant chef is added to our group."

>>> Read more about Simon here

>>> Take a look at The Roux Scholarship winners and where they are now including: Andrew Jones, Matthew Tomkinson, Pravin Sharma, Armand Sablon, Daniel Cox, Hrishikesh Desai, Kenneth Culhane, Mark Birchall, Adam Smith, Paul O'Neill and Tom Barnes.  

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 15th January 2015

The Roux Scholarship winners: where are they now? (part 2)