Karol Ploch wins The Roux Scholarship 2024

Karol Ploch has won The Roux Scholarship 2024. The 28-year-old Sous Chef from Kerridge’s Bar and Grill in London beat five other finalists in a highly challenging final cook-off held at the Alain Roux Culinary School at The Waterside Inn on Monday 8th April 2024.

It was the first time Karol had entered The Roux Scholarship and he said on winning: “It’s an amazing feeling, but overwhelming too. It’s been an amazing day – all the finalists were very close to each other, all the dishes were very good. I’m just glad mine came out well. I’m excited for the future.”

For this year's final, the six chefs were asked to prepare their own dish centred around poached rainbow trout and Carlingford oysters, with a wide choice of other ingredients. At the start of the competition, the chefs were shown a table displaying dozens of ingredients that would allow them to interpret the brief as they chose. The chefs were asked to ‘tell a bold story composed of minimal yet impactful elements.’

Karol said: “I tried my best. I poached the trout in a champagne and oyster sauce with some blanched asparagus. The cook-off was stressful at the beginning but when I started cooking I focussed on the jobs to do. It was three hours but it went very quickly; it’s best to just focus on yourself and work with your commis. The timings went well, everything was on point and I’m very glad it went this way.”

Michel Roux Jr said: “Everyone cooked to their potential and delivered the goods. We had some individuality in the cooking of the sauces and with the garnishes too. With the amazing produce we gave them we were a little surprised we didn't see a bit more individuality. It was a very hearty debate to choose a winner and Chef Keller brought a lot to the discussion which was why we wanted him at the 40th anniversary. His wise words were taken on board.”

Alain Roux said: “It felt fitting to hold the final at the birthplace of The Scholarship - my father’s former home, now the Culinary School. We have a very worthy winner and a great scholar and someone who will carry the torch for another 40 years.”

In his role as Honorary Presidents of Judges, Thomas Keller led the judging panel alongside joint chairmen Alain and Michel Jr, who were joined by Vice-Chairman Brian Turner CBE, Sat Bains (1999 scholar), André Garrett MCA (2002 Scholar), James Martin, Clare Smyth MBE and Emily Roux.

Chef Keller said: “Congratulations to this year’s Roux Scholarship winner, Karol Ploch from Kerridge’s Bar and Grill in London, and congratulations to all the talented competing chefs today. Your expertise, patience and commitment to your craft are evident. You should be extremely proud of the work you displayed today. Thank you to my fellow judges, it’s been an honour to participate in the 40th Anniversary of the Roux Scholarship - an incredible milestone for the UK’s young culinarians and a scholarship that has impacted generations.”

Karol Ploch was competing against the following chefs: Harrison Brockington, Gather Restaurant; Ben Miller, Alex Dilling at Hotel Café Royal; Jordan Randerson, The Elephant, Torquay; Liam Smith, Restaurant Pine, Newcastle-upon-Tyne; Evelina Stripeikyte, The Glenturret Lalique, Crieff.

The winner was announced at an exclusive awards dinner at Coworth Park, where Roux Scholar 2012 Adam Smith MCA is the Executive Chef. In attendance was a small audience comprising the finalists’ guests, sponsors and judges, with the ceremony live-streamed via The Roux Scholarship website and YouTube channel.

The winning chef receives £6,000, with an additional £6,000 awarded if they stay with their current employer for 15 additional months. They have the choice between two different star prizes: the invitation to cook and train under the supervision of a leading chef at a prestigious three-star Michelin restaurant anywhere in the world for up to two months; or a bespoke training programme tailored to the chef’s ambitions, skills gaps and interests. This is in addition to an impressive list of prizes and culinary experiences provided courtesy of our sponsors.
Find out more here: www.rouxscholarship.co.uk/about-the-competition/prizes/

About The Roux Scholarship:
In 1984, the late brothers, Michel Roux OBE and Albert Roux OBE held the first ever Roux Scholarship competition. It was designed to enable a new generation of chefs from Britain to train in the greatest restaurants in the world. Not only has it become the industry’s most acclaimed chef contest in the UK with many scholars having gone on to win Michelin stars themselves, it ranks among the most prestigious competitions for chefs in the world. Since it was established, it has helped British chefs gain the international recognition they deserve. With many young chefs entering the competition each year, it is true to say thousands have been inspired, and lives changed, by the experience of competing. Please visit www.rouxscholarship.co.uk for more information about the Roux Scholarship competition and details of the long list of prizes, courtesy of our sponsors and preferred partners.

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