Around 20 young chefs at Borders College are competing for their big break: a six-month scholarship in a restaurant run by the Michelin-starred chef Albert Roux.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for them,” the college’s Vicky MacDonald said of the competition, which is open only to its students. “We don’t usually get someone of this stature to the Borders.
“It’s a very exciting time for them,” added Ms MacDonald, who works as the college’s programme leader of creative industries and sport. “I think they realise how important it could be for their career.”
Students must plan a classic dish, using local seasonal produce, and then compete in a cook-off judged by one of Roux’s executive chefs, Glen Watson, who is a former Borders College student from Kelso.
Watson, who sets up recipes and sources produce for the group’s many Michelin-starred restaurants throughout the country, proposed the Borders College competition in September last year, thanks to his connection with the region.
In October he came back to his roots to talk and give a demonstration to catering students at Borders College, and in March he will return to the Galashiels campus to whittle the first, second and third-year contestants down to the final six.
The finalists will then compete before Albert Roux in May this year for the bicentenary celebrations of the Border Union Agricultural Society (BUAS).
On top of the glory, the winner will be invited to cook alongside Albert Roux and another Michelin-starred chef Tom Kitchen for the 400-500 guests at the BUAS bicentenary dinner at Kelso’s Springwood Park in July.
BUAS is also funding the winner’s accommodation on their six-month scholarship.
“Whoever wins,” added Ms MacDonald, “we know it will be one of our students who will be awarded the scholarship.”