The Roux at Parliament Square head chef beat nine other chefs to the claim the title following a hotly contested two-hour final, held yesterday (1 October) at The Restaurant Show.
Chefs had to create three courses in two hours and were tasked with creating a bouillabaisse style flavoured starter using under-utilised fish, and cuts of suckling pig for the main. The dessert had to honour seasonal pears.
Groves’ winning menu comprised a starter of red mullet with shellfish mousse and bouillabaisse sauce; a main of suckling pig, Jerusalem artichokes, quince, hazelnut and trompettes; and ending with calvados baba, honey poached pears and creme fraiche chantilly.
Derek Johnson, head chef at Borthwick Castle, near Edinburgh, took second place, with Nick Smith, head chef at Vacherin placing third.
Speaking to BigHospitality following his victory, Groves said he was surprised that he had managed to claim the title on his first attempt. “I was expecting to have to do it at least a couple of times,” he said.
Groves, who admits to not having done much competition cooking since winning MasterChef: The Professionals a decade ago, said the time had been right to enter the competition this year.
“It has been something I’ve wanted to do for a few years but never really had the time to do it, but this year I decided to find the time.
"To compete in such a premier cooking competition against my peers was brilliant and to be recognised among the other chefs who have won is amazing. I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to work with The Craft Guild going forwards.”
This year’s team of 20 judges was led by Gary Jones, executive head chef at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, who was joined by chefs incouding Sat Bains, Clare Smyth, Claude Bosi, Jonny Lake, Philip Howard, Ollie Dabbous, James Petrie and former winners Alyn Williams and Simon Hulstone.
“What stood out for me about Steve was his good, strong, clean flavours” says Jones. “He didn’t over complicate his menu and approached the brief well resulting in beautiful flavours. When it came to the main course, he served-up the best crackling in the room and I was salivating just looking at it.”
Groves said he chose to keep his menu “simple and achievable for the two-hour time slot” but admitted that he was on the verge of redoing his dessert because he wasn’t fully happy with his first attempt.
“I was happy with the starter and the main, but I thought it was a bit of a bad baba.”