Kerridge’s Sous Chef Wins Roux Scholarship

Karol Ploch, sous chef at Kerridge’s Bar and Grill in London, became the 40th Roux Scholar in a thrilling final held at the Alain Roux Culinary School at The Waterside Inn on Monday. Ploch won at the first attempt.

His winning dish was centred around the compulsory poached rainbow trout and Carlingford oysters. Every Roux Scholarship final contains a fixed ingredient that six finalists must then interpret.

Ploch 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.”

This was the first time that the final had been held at The Alain Roux Cookery School and The Chefs’ Forum were given an exclusive preview in advance.

Editor Chandos Elletson, said. “I have worked with The Roux Scholarship many times and it is a wonderful competition that continues to give and give. There is nothing like it and the next generation of Roux chefs, Alain and Michel Jnr, are doing a great job taking it forward. The Alain Roux Cookery School is a fitting place to hold a final – it lacks for nothing. Indeed, you could say it is the ultimate kitchen.

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.”

On winning Karol Ploch said: “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.”

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.”

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. Theyhave 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.