Spencer Metzger crowned 36th Roux Scholar
Spencer Metzger has won the 2019 Roux Scholarship. The premier sous chef from The Ritz beat five other finalists in a fiercely contested final held at Westminster Kingsway College, London, on Monday 1st April, where they were asked to prepare and serve Monkfish blanquette and langoustines with saffron basmati rice, garnished with seasonal vegetables and asparagus subrics.
The 26-year-old chef was battling it out against his colleague Ryan Baker also from The Ritz, Olivia Catherine Burt from Claridge’s, Lewis Linley from Vacherin, Adam Harper from The Cavendish Hotel Baslow in Derbyshire, and Michael Cruickshank from Bohemia in Jersey. It was Spencer’s first time entering the competition.
Commenting on the 36th national final, Michel Roux Jr said: “It’s been a fantastic event as usual, but this year is more poignant with the passing of the first Roux Scholar, Andrew Fairlie. The feeling among the judges and the Roux family too is that this year had to be very special and we do have a very special Roux Scholar this year. The winning dish was exceptional, the monkfish was beautiful, the sauce was indulgent but not rich, creamy but not heavy. In fact, we were fighting over the last of it once we’d all had a tasting!”
Alain Roux added: “Not all the chefs utilised all the ingredients, which was surprising. However, overall it was a very good standard, it really does get higher and higher every year. The winning dish was chosen by a unanimous decision among the judges, the fish was cooked perfectly.”
Peter Gilmore (Honorary President of Judges 2019) said: “Overall I was really impressed. The organisational skills showed they were well prepared. Nerves did get to some of them near the end but the winner was outstanding. Every element of the dish was right, the flavours and textures were spot on. There was very little to find any fault with.”
Winner Spencer Metzger said: “I was very happy with what I produced. I was a bit rushed and stressed at the end of the cooking time, but all the components were there and I was pleased with their flavours and the dish overall. I really don’t know where I’ll choose for my Stage, but I would want to go somewhere really different, maybe somewhere with a farm or something like that.”
The six chefs, all under 30 years old, had 2.5 hours to cook the Antonin Careme-inspired recipe in front of the judges. Acclaimed Australian chef Peter Gilmore was invited over from Sydney to be honorary president of the judges, and led the panel alongside joint chairmen Alain and Michel Jr. They were joined by Brian Turner, James Martin, as well as previous winners Sat Bains (1999 scholar) and André Garrett (2002 scholar) and Clare Smyth.
The winner was announced at a glittering awards ceremony at The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London, in front of an audience of top chefs and prestigious guests from the world of hospitality.
The winning chef receives £6,000, and an 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 three months. This is in addition to an impressive list of prizes and culinary experiences provided courtesy of our sponsors.
The Roux Scholarship is sponsored by a number of companies, whose support is much-appreciated: Aubrey Allen, Bridor, Cactus TV, The Caterer, Direct Seafoods, Global Knives, Hildon Natural Mineral Water, Champagne Laurent-Perrier, L’Unico Caffe Musetti, Mandarin Oriental, Mash Purveyors, Oritain, Qatar Airways, Restaurant Associates, TRUEfoods, and Udale Speciality Foods.
The Roux Scholarship would like to thank the Institute of Hospitality, HALM (Hospitality and Leisure Management), University College Birmingham, University of West London and Westminster Kingsway College for their support. Details of all sponsors and supporters are included on the website: www.rouxscholarship.co.uk.
Go to www.rouxscholarship.co.uk for more information about the Roux Scholarship competition and details of the long list of prizes the winner and finalists received courtesy of our sponsors.
- Roux Scholar 2012 Adam Smith also worked at The Ritz under Executive Head Chef John Williams, who had two chefs from his brigade in this year’s National Final.
- Five out of the six finalists reached the final the first time on entering. Only Michael Cruickshank has reached the final before, in 2017 (and competed in regional finals in 2018 and 2016).
- The film of the Roux Scholarship 2018 will be broadcast as part of Saturday Kitchen on Saturday 13th April on BBC1.