A CARTMEL chef has been voted cream of the crop by no other than the famous Roux family.
Tom Barnes, 25, won The Roux Scholarship after a cut-throat cook-off against five other competitors in London on Monday.
Mr Barnes said: “I was a bit shocked, and I wouldn’t have been surprised if someone else’s name was called.
“I’m stumped still and couldn’t speak properly, but now It just feels really good.”
The sous chef at Simon Rogan’s two-Michelin-starred restaurant L’Enclume, in Cartmel, fought it out in front of a panel of judges that included Roux family members Michel Sr, Michel Jr, Alain and Albert.
Joining them to observe the six finalists prepare a chartreuse of quail and sweetbreads with grape sauce, were TV chefs James Martin and Gary Rhodes.
Michel Roux Jr said: “Tom’s dish was fantastic because he really understood the recipe, and he absolutely nailed it.
“Cabbage is the main component of a chartreuse and his was beautiful with such a depth of flavour, and we were all blown away with it.”
Mr Barnes said the challenge was ‘really nerve racking’, adding: “We had two-and-three-quarter hours to make the dish which is from a really old-fashioned recipe.”
After cooking the dish, at Westminster Kingsway College, there was a tense five-hour wait until the announcement at the awards ceremony at The Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
This was the second year running that the chef made it into the competition’s finals.
Michel Jr added: “We said last year that this is the makings of a great chef, and you learn and progress, and this year he wasn’t quite as nervous.”
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Mr Barnes received £5,000 from the Savoy Educational Trust and an invitation to cook and train under the supervision of a leading chef at a three Michelin-starred restaurant anywhere in the world for three months.
“I’m not sure where I want to go or when, but I’d like to go to a restaurant called Hof Van Cleve in Belgium that I like the look of,” added Mr Barnes.
In the meantime, however, he is already back at work in Cartmel and says he intends to return again after completing his three-month prize.