Michael Cruickshank (26) is senior chef de partie at Bohemia and represented Jersey at the London semi-finals of The Roux Scholarship competition last year, progressing through to the national final.
And the year before, while working at the Montagu Arms in Hampshire, he also reached the semi -finals of the competition, which is now in its 35th year and is judged by celebrities Michel Roux Jnr, Ready, Steady, Cook’s Brian Turner and Saturday Kitchen’s James Martin, among other Michelin-starred chefs.
This year’s semi-finals are due to take place on 8 March, when Mr Cruickshank will compete against 11 other chefs at the University of West London. The other semi-final will take place on the same date in Birmingham with six finalists chosen from each.
And the dish he will be cooking at the semi-final will include various local ingredients, including razor clams supplied by Fin and Feather in the Central Market.
‘This year they said we had to use two whole sea breams, we had to use globe artichokes and any type of mollusc, so things like mussels, oysters, razor clams. Everybody cooks the recipe they have submitted and you are also given a mystery box of ingredients. You get shown the box and get half an hour to work out what you are going to make and then incorporate that as your dessert, cooking it all in the time allocated.
‘It is pretty stressful but good fun and it is a pretty high calibre of judges – they probably have 15 Michelin stars between them.’
Semi-finalists were chosen based on the recipe they had submitted, with Mr Cruickshank opting for a steamed sea bream that he described as a ‘take on a chowder’, served with an artichoke velouté, sweetcorn, globe artichoke and razor clam fricassee and an artichoke crumb – all topped off with some locally foraged herbs from Jersey.
And in the future he said he hopes more Jersey chefs will enter the competition, which has a huge prize list that includes a fully expenses paid three-month placement at a three Michelin star restaurant of the winner’s choice any where in the world, £6,000 towards the winner’s professional development and various trips to places such as Milan, Paris, Champagne and Barcelona.
‘The fact that I have done it before only means that I know what to expect in terms of the process and maybe what they are looking for,’ said Mr Cruickshank.
‘Last year what I did was good enough for the final, this year it may have to be better.’