Roux finalists at Fairfax

The UK's top young chefs were treated to a hands-on lesson in traditional cuts at Fairfax Meadow's London site this week.

The group was made up of regional finalists from this year's Roux Scholarship - considered the ultimate British competition for chefs. As an official supporter of the scholarship, Fairfax Meadow usually only invites the final six for a butchery skills day at its Kentish Town plant, but this year, managing director Gerry Wensley was so impressed by the level of talent that he invited all the regional finalists.

After a brief introduction, the chefs were taken on a tour of Fairfax's facilities by general manager Julian Pickles and sales manager Darren Bruton, and had the opportunity to quiz them on all aspects of the meat industry, including the challenges facing butchers and chefs today.

They then had the chance to try their hands at cutting a lamb carcase down to restaurant-ready cuts, before watching a a butcher break down a beef forequarter, with a focus on some of the "forgotten" cuts.

"We wanted to offer the chefs the chance to ask about any cut, see it, touch it and understand a bit more about the industry," said Bruton.

Pickles added: "Butchers and chefs can learn from each other. We are constantly trying to innovate and create new products to suit the restaurants we supply, but chefs can also inspire us with their knowledge."

Chef Hrishikesh Desai of Lucknam Park Hotel, who is one of the scholarship finalists, said he relished the chance to learn some hands-on butchery skills.

"We learnt a bit about it at college, but have not had any training since. Our head chef is trained in butchery and knows a lot, but one day I hope to be a head chef myself and people will turn to me, so it's great to learn more butchery skills."

The finals of the Roux Scholarship will be held on 6 April, when Michel Roux senior and his brother Albert will chair a panel of judges including Heston Blumenthal, Andrew Fairlie, David Nicholls, Gary Rhodes, Michel Roux Junior, Alain Roux, Brian Turner and Richard Vines. The awards ceremony will be held later the same day at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park.

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