Chef proud of Roux Scholarship display despite missing out on final spot

Nico Fitzgerald Roux Scholarship

Nico Fitzgerald (second left) earned praise from Michel Roux Jr (left) despite not making the national final. - Credit: Chris Terry

A Woolmer Green chef was proud of his performance in the Roux Scholarship regional final despite missing out on the national final.

Nico Fitzgerald was one of 18 chefs who were looking to secure a spot in the final last Thursday by impressing a host of judges that included Michel Roux Jr, Brian Turner and James Martin.

Tasked with cooking a dish using Dover sole and brown shrimp, as well as a mystery dessert, the 29-year-old impressed and was delighted with his effort despite not making it through.

“It was a really fun experience,” he said.

Nico Fitzgerald Roux Scholarship

Nico was one of 18 chefs competing in the regional final in London. - Credit: Chris Terry

“Obviously at that level, the competition is absolutely insane and I was cooking alongside some of the best chefs in the country at the moment.

“It was a real privilege to take part and to get to that stage was an honour, regardless of the result.

“I feel like I did quite well. You’re in an environment with such high stakes, so you can’t prepare or practice for being in that kitchen. I’m very happy and proud of how I did.”

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The Roux Scholarship was founded in 1984 by renowned chefs and brothers, Michel and Albert, with their sons Alain and Michel Jr now running the competition.

The winner earns a three-month placement in a Michelin starred restaurants.

Nico Fitzgerald Roux Scholarship

Nico's Dover sole and brown shrimp dish. - Credit: Chris Terry

Nico had the chance to speak to Michel Jr after the competition, and he revealed it was a close call between the Woolmer Green chef and the six selected for the national final.

“I had a chance to speak to Michel Roux Jr at the end of the competition and he said it was a really good effort, that it was a close call and there were elements of other dishes that had just pipped mine,” he said.

“We had to do a mystery dessert and he really liked the lemon sponge with pecan nuts that I made, so it was nice to get feedback from someone like him.”

Nico’s attention now turns to his efforts to open his own restaurant in Hertfordshire, as he targets investors and a location to make his dream a reality.

Nico Fitzgerald Roux Scholarship

Michel Roux Jr was a fan of Nico's lemon sponge and pecan dessert. - Credit: Chris Terry

“I haven’t found an investor yet, but I’m putting some feelers out,” he revealed.

“The competition has been great to boost my profile because I’ve been able to show I am working at the top level of the industry.

“Hopefully I will catch someone’s eye. I’m looking at St Albans as a potential location and it’s all very exciting.”