Guy beat five other finalists to the Roux family accolade, and was announced victorious by Michel Roux Jr and Alain Roux at the 33rd annual awards ceremony at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park London last night (Monday 4 April). He now joins the ranks of previous winners such as chefs Mark Birchall, Andrew Fairlie, Sat Bains, and Frederick Forster.
Aged just 26, Guy has now won a host of prizes including a stage of up to three months at any three-Michelin starred restaurant in the world, and £6,000 towards his career development. He also wins all-expenses paid trips to Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant, the Caffe Musetti factory, and the Laurent Perrier vineyards.
The final took place at Westminster Kingsway College earlier on Monday, tasking the competitors with preparing an Escoffier-inspired Norfolk black chicken en croute, with a cardoon gratin and tarragon sauce. They were told the task just 30 minutes ahead of time.
Three Michelin-starred chef Pierre Gagnaire was present as honorary president of the judges, with the panel also including Michel Jr, Alain, Brian Turner, Andrew Fairlie, André Garrett, Simon Hulstone, James Martin, and David Nicholls.
This year saw a few changes to the proceedings too, as senior patrons Albert Roux and Michel Roux – who first founded the competition in 1984 ‒ stepped down as judges to hand over the overall responsibility to their sons. The ceremony was also live-streamed online for the first time.
Speaking to BigHospitality, Michel Roux Jr said: “What set [Harry] apart was the way he worked in the kitchen. That was one of the first things that Pierre Gagnaire said about him: ‘Look how organised he is; he picks up ingredients with respect’. It’s not just about the food, it’s also about how you work and the kind of person you are.”
He added: “We are looking for a talented chef, but we are also looking for someone who will be an ambassador for the Roux family, and be part of it, and someone who we know will carry on the great work and be a great teacher, and inspire future generations.
“He may not quite realise it now, but this is a life changing moment [for Harry]. This will change his career and his life, and it will take a while to sink in.”
Immediately after winning, Guy said: “I didn’t think it was my name they called. I had to look round at everyone, and realised it must have been me! It’s a massive achievement in my career, and it’s huge to be part of the Roux legacy. It’s that next step.
“As a chef, not everyone wants to do competitions…but the Roux Scholarship is massive as the Roux family are such a big part of the culinary world in Britain, France, and around the world. To be part of something so unique and dynamic is a great achievement.”
Guy added that former boss and Scholar Mark Birchall (2011) had been a significant help to him as a mentor, along with Tom Barnes (2014) at L’Enclume in Cumbria, and Dan Cox (2008).
The other five finalists, who were also thanked and congratulated at the awards ceremony, were Martin Carabott from the Royal Automobile Club, Ben Champkin from L’Enclume, Scott Dineen from Goldman Sachs (BaxterStorey), Tim Peirson from Kensington Place, and Paul Matthews from Fieldfisher (Vacherin).
Michel Roux Jr on the improved standards of British chefs
BigHospitality: French cooking has come a long way in this country; Andrew Fairlie famously struggled to find a placement at a Michelin-starred restaurant when he won in 1984. That’s not the case at all anymore. What would you say has happened to French cuisine in the UK and the standard of UK cooking generally in the past 30 years?
Michel Roux Jr: “I think the standard of cooking in Britain is on a par with anywhere you care to mention. It’s fabulous to see great young British chefs – home-bred chefs ‒ that have come through the ranks. And now it’s not unusual to see young British chefs being employed in France and anywhere in the world. The reason behind that is that they are very talented, hard workers, and they have a great work ethic.”