A WINCHESTER pub head chef has gone through to the semi-finals of a competition to find Britain's best young chef.

Luke Emmess who works at the Wykeham Arms in Kingsgate Street has made it through to the semi-finals of the Roux Scholarship, a competition for young chef's, which has been running for more than 30 years.

Hampshire Chronicle: Head chef Luke Emmess judges by Pierre KoffmanHead chef Luke Emmess judges by Pierre Koffman

The competition takes place on Thursday, March 24 and is judged by two-star Michelin chef Michael Roux Jnr and TV chef James Martin.

Luke has won Fullers Young Chef of the Year in 2016 and Fullers Chef of the Year in 2019.

He said: "Since I left school I knew I was going to be a chef. At 14, not many people knew what they wanted to do but I knew right away.

"I want to progress myself personally. Most people I'm up against grew up Michelin starred. I haven't got that background but I'd like to make a name for myself and push for more at the Wykeham Arms and increase the quality of food in the kitchen I'm working in."

Luke, 29, from Bedhampton, started his culinary training at South Downs College in Waterlooville.

He said: "I didn't eat out or have home cooked meals as a kid so it was one of the things that made me want to learn and I excelled from there."

He will have 30 minutes to create the dish that was initially put forward to the judges, as well as a mystery box dessert. Contestants are given two and a half hours to complete four portions of their dish.

Luke lists his top influences as Clare Smyth, Simon Rogan and Pierre Koffmann, who judged his first competition.


Review by reporter Harvey Lindsay

Ahead of his competition, Luke kindly sat me down to try a starter and a main from the menu.

He opened the menu in front of me and asked me to choose anything that took my fancy. I quickly closed it and insisted I had every faith in his choice.

Five minutes had passed before a portion of chicken liver parfait was whisked my way. It came with fig, onion chutney and brandy jelly, with toasted brioche served on the side.

I tactically cut the brioche into three quarters and spread the parfait, along with jelly and onion chutney for maximum flavour.

I took a last glance before a quick whiff and put as much into my mouth as I could. It was good. It was absolutely incredible, to be exact.

Hampshire Chronicle: Chicken liver parfaity, fig & onion chutney, brandy jelly and a toasted brioche slice. Credit: Luke Emmess, Head Chef at Wykeham Arms

I'm not a great fan of parfait but this was full of flavour, wasn't too strong and went down extremely well with the flavours of the brandy jelly and onion chutney.

Unfortunately, I ran out of brioche before finishing the parfait, but another slice was kindly sent my way after a small request.

My second meal was a braised Scottish beef feather blade bourguignon and parsnip. Another extremely delicious dish from Chef Emmess.

It came in what looked like a small portion, but after loading my fork with beef, mash and gravy, it didn't take long before I had to take a few moments to enjoy the heavy rain tap the window as I try to make room for more servings of this incredibly flavoursome dish.

Hampshire Chronicle: Braised Scottish beef feather blade, bourguignon & parsnip. Credit: Luke Emmess, Head Chef at Wykeham Arms

The sauce was rich and packed with flavour and the beef melted like butter after every bite.

The mash wasn't ordinary, like my nan's. It was smooth, soft and full of flavour.