Chefs serve up their best for chance at global prize

Head chef Adam Harper at work in the Rowley's kitchen
Head chef Adam Harper at work in the Rowley's kitchen
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It’s a long way from cooking at a Sheffield chain eatery to preparing 14-course dinners at a Michelin restaurant in Chicago.

But for chef Joseph Bailey that leap could become reality today.

The 29-year-old is one of just a handful of chefs in the regional finals of the prestigious Roux scholarship - which began as a way to showcase undervalued British chefs, get them into the best restaurants globally and then use their skills to change their home country’s gastronomic landscape.

Like other competitions it is a battle to find the country’s most talented and innovative masterchefs.

However, it also has the most mouth-watering prize package of all, including giving winners a career-changing chance to spend three months working at any three-star Michelin restaurant, the highest rating there is, in the world.

Former Sheffield Hallam student Joseph would choose to work at Alinea in Chicago, one of the most decorated eateries on the planet, where diners are given a full experience with different lighting and creative dishes such as edible balloons.

“It’s a very modern restaurant and they serve 14-course dinners - it is a bit different from working at Ask in Sheffield”, said Joseph, who also cooked at The Showroom cinema and cafe while he was studying furniture design.

“To win the competition would put me up to a different level and its a great way to challenge myself.

“Some of the best chefs in the country have entered, and they’ve worked in Michelin standard restaurants already, I’ve only done a little bit of that but I feel like I can compete with them.

“I just love the rush of the business really, right from when I started pot-washing at 16, it was the rush and the creative side to it as well.”

Joseph, who now runs the kitchens at a golf club in Stoke-on-Trent, got through to the regional finals with his submitted recipe for pollock with cockles and button mushrooms - ingredients given to all entrants to work with. This afternoon he will cook the dish live for the judges, including the legendary Michel Roux Junior.

In a nod to the teatime television favourite Ready Steady Cook, chefs will also have to prepare a dessert from mystery ingredients.

Just six winners from the regional finals, one of which to be held in Birmingham today, will go through to the national showdown.

Adam Harper, head chef at Rowleys in Baslow, and also a chef at Fischer’s Baslow Hall in Baslow, which holds a Michelin star, is also hoping to be one of them.

The 23-year-old from Bradwell - who completed an apprenticeship at The Plough in Hathersage - said: “It was a bit of a shock to get through to the regional final, it was the first year that I could enter because of the age restrictions and I wasn’t expecting much!

“There are some big names on the judging panel but I am just going to go and do what I do. I’ve been practising my dish, I’ve put it on the menu here because there is no better way to get feedback. I’d love to have the chance to work at French Laundry in Califorinia or Alinea, that’s the best restaurant in America right now and I love America.

“To win is a kick start to your career, people will know your name and look out for you, you also get a lot of support from the Roux family which is invaluable.”

And when it comes to the surprise pudding Adam may have a small advantage.

“I’m just going to go with my gut on the day”, said the former joint winner of Eat Sheffield’s Young Chef of the Year.

“I was the pastry chef at Fischer’s for two years so I might have something up my sleeve.”