Nathanael Dixon from Scotland claims the winner’s title of Le Cordon Bleu London’s UK Scholarship Award 2017 after the finals on 1st June.
Since the beginning of the year, the team at Le Cordon Bleu London have been searching the UK for the best aspiring culinary talent in a bid to support the exciting evolution of the food scene.
After touring the UK and hosting exclusive events in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Bristol and Manchester, the competition received an overwhelming number of entries from across the country with only 25 of those candidates making it through the semi-finals held at Le Cordon Bleu London on the 20th and 21st of April.
After taking part in a sensory analysis task and being interviewed by the judging panel, those twenty-five hopefuls were whittled down to just twelve passionate finalists who were invited back to the school for the final stage of the competition, where they had to compete in a cook-off with the judges assessing their behaviour in the kitchen, along with their motivation and creativity.
Nathanael battled through the tough practical task, producing a savoury tart after watching a demonstration from Le Cordon Bleu’s Master Chef and Academic Director Loic Malfait, and the judges were really impressed with his passion for food. He was awarded the ultimate prize worth over £35,000, which included a place on the renowned school’s most prestigious qualification, the Grand Diplôme®, providing nine-months of comprehensive training in both pâtisserie and cuisine, a three-month internship at Michelin-starred restaurant LIMA Fitzrovia under the guidance of Head Chef Robert Ortiz, and luxury accommodation in central London, courtesy of Homes for Students.
This year the world-leading school also offered second and third place prizes which were, the Basic Cuisine Certificate and the Basic Pâtisserie Certificate respectively. These were awarded to Jake Barwood from Bristol, who is in his final year at University and runs a small barbecue catering company with his dad, and Tobi Akingbolagun from London who is a risk analyst and runs a West African street food pop-up which fuses his UK and Nigerian roots.
Winner Nathanael, who owns an organic farm, which he set up due to his love of cooking and using great produce says he cannot believe he has won such a great opportunity: “Today was hard, I really didn’t expect to win because there was such good competition. I am just totally shocked, totally ecstatic and absolutely excited to be a part of Le Cordon Bleu.”
Julie Walsh, Head Pâtisserie Master Chef at Le Cordon Bleu London who was part of the scholarship judging panel, explains why Nathanael was chosen to win the amazing prize: “He stood out, he was very attentive in the demonstration, he asked very smart questions, and he asked questions that were not obvious. He asked questions around the subject which is really important because if he’s thinking of these questions then it means he understands the technique that Chef Loic is showing. In the practical class, we were looking for the person who was able to transmit their feelings to the plate and he showed us the love that he had for the commodities and that’s what we wanted.”