April lily Partridge, 29, Sous Chef at The Ledbury in London, has been named the Roux Scholar for 2023, a premier cooking competition for UK chefs which has been running since 1984. Partridge won the scholarship this week at the competition final at Westminster Kingsway College in London.
The annual Roux Scholarship is a leading competition for UK chefs enabling a new generation of culinary experts from Britain to train in the greatest restaurants in the world. As the winner of this year's competition, Partridge becomes the second female winner in the scholarship's history. She's presented with two star prize options - 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 two months; or the Bespoke Roux Scholarship programme, tailored to the winner, with the opportunity to work with the Roux Family and Roux Scholarship team and to choose a number of short educational experiences, visits and stays in the UK and abroad to help her individual career development.
For this year's final, the six chefs were asked to prepare their own dish using a variety of ingredients, along the theme of Pâté Chaud de Lotte (hot monkfish pie) – a recipe originally created by the Troisgros family. 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 only ingredients they were obliged to use were the monkfish and whole black truffle.
April said: "It was really tough, a tough brief. Monkfish is tricky, it's very easy to overcook. Once I got in to the kitchen I began to question my reasoning and interpretation of what was required in the brief. I began to change what I had planned and for the first hour I was still working out what to do. I wasn't 100% happy but we are all hard taskmasters on ourselves!"
Michel Roux Jr said: "It was an exceptional final. I thought we were in for a good final and so it proved. We had six finalists, six styles and six very different dishes. The new format allowed the chefs to truly show off their skills and character on a plate. Given a wider choice of ingredients they all rose to the challenge and our guest judges said they'll be taking some of the ideas back home with them to France."
Find out more about the Roux Scholarship here.