We are delighted to announce Louise Roberts, who joined us as one of Lexington’s first ever Lex School of Talent apprentice chefs, has won the 2015 Chef Stagiaire Award which was launched last year to discover the most talented young British chefs.
Ten of the most innovative chefs who entered each took part in Stage One, which involved working for a week at one of twenty of the most highly acclaimed restaurants in the UK.
Two finalists were then selected, Louise and fellow finalist, Andrew Leonard, from Loughside Bar & Grill at The Lough Erne Resort, Enniskillen. They went head to head in the final stage at 2 Michelin Star ‘Dinner by Heston Blumenthal’ at The Mandarin Oriental Hotel in London, where Executive Chef of The Fat Duck Group, Ashley Palmer Watts, judged them both.
Louise’s amuse bouche was a chorizo and red pepper scotch egg with saffron aioli and her main dish was black cod, with pickled Asian vegetables and wasabi mashed potato. The judges praised Louise for her enthusiasm and passion.
Louise admitted that it was a surreal moment when she first heard she had won: “It just didn’t feel real. I’d been waiting for a phone call for what seemed like ages. It was amazing – the whole process was fantastic.”
Whilst Louise is no newbie to competitions, having won more than five awards including the London Loves Business Apprentice of the Year 2014 and the 2014 Craft Guild of Chefs Apprentice of the Year, she admits she suffers with nerves. She says, “I feel really intimidated when people watch me cook. I get very stressed and I was so scared my nerves would get the better of me.”
In a bid to overcome her nerves she asked colleague, Matt Jaynes, Executive Head Chef at Lexington, to mentor her through the process. Louise said, “Matt was fantastic – he has such a calming affect on me. He has helped me believe in myself and deal with my nerves in a much more positive way.”
Louise said, “The competition took me completely outside my comfort zone and has given me the opportunity to work with some truly amazing Michelin starred chefs. I got to experience a completely different side of cooking which I can only describe as just beautiful and totally mesmorising – some of the dishes and flavours took my breath away.”
Commenting on Louise’s award win Rob Kirby, Chef Director, at Lexington says, “Louise’s determination to not only enter but win the Chef Stagiaire Award, with just four year’s experience working as a chef and aged just 21, is incredible. She’s just gone from strength to strength since joining us as an apprentice and I am so proud to say she works for Lexington.”
Louise has won an all expenses paid, two week trip to work at Joel Robuchon Restaurant, working within the team of Claude le Tohic the multi award winning chef and only chef to hold 3 Michelin Stars in Las Vegas before flying on to the Six Senses ‘Zighy Bay Resort’ in Oman, voted Best Restaurant in the Middle East 2012, for a further two weeks of creative cooking.
Louise says, “Whilst I am very nervous about going away on my own I am really excited, it’s a massive opportunity for me to work alongside such fabulous chefs. I just love getting people inspired and excited by food and seeing the positive impact good food can have on people’s dining experience. I am looking forward to learning more and one day I hope I can get the Michelin Star.”