Olivia Burt is 23 years old and the Sous Chef at Claridge's Hotel in Mayfair. She has reached the finals of the Roux Scholarship and is the first woman to do this since Sabrina Gidda Executive Chef at Allbright made it to the finals 4 years ago. A few days before the regional finals Olivia spoke to Mecca Ibrahim co-founder of Women in The Food Industry about her journey to this achievement.
Olivia started out as a private chef and worked for the late Joël Robuchon in Paris. She studied at Le Cordon Bleu and at Ballymaloe Cookery School in Cork (where MasterChef The Professionals entrant Joey O’Hare also trained). She had worked for Simon Rogan when he had the Fera at Claridge’s residence. While working for Simon she won a Royal Academy of Culinary Arts’ Annual Award of Excellence in 2017.
When asked how she started to prepare for the Roux Scholarship she said "Our Executive Chef Martyn Nail at Claridge’s really encouraged me. I spent my first two weeks here focusing on my application taking photographs and making notes for my Roux Scholarship entry. There are a list of things you have to make and this year it’s a short saddle of hogget and you have to use the kidneys. You have to make a rosti as one of the sides and you have to serve this with a sauce, and then come up with your own side dish too. Obviously it must all be seasonal too."
Focus and timing was key to her success when she took part in the regional finals on 14th March 2019 at the University of West London. She faced a prestigious judging panel made up of Michel Roux Jr (who’s Chairman of the overall judging panel), Sat Bains, Rachel Humphrey, James Martin and André Garrett.
"Timing is most crucial at the Roux Scholarship as you only have two and half hours to make the hogget dish, your sides and a dessert from a mystery box of ingredients." she said "You need to see how fast you can get things done and in the best possible way. So I am going to need about 30-45 minutes for the dessert and the plating aspect. Also with the Roux Scholarship, unlike other awards I’ve entered, you can be up against people much older than you, as the age entry runs from 22 to 30. There are also four people who have entered before and some of those have reached the finals several times already."
Olivia was very successful on 14th March and has now gone through to the Roux Scholarship National finals taking place on 1st April 2019 at Westminster Kingsway College in the heart of London.
You can read the full interview with Olivia Burt at Women in The Food Industry.
"You have got to open your doors to every opportunity. Kitchens are tough places, it is long hours, but you get the rewards too"