A YOUNG chef is flying the flag for Scotland in an elite cooking competition up against head chefs from some of the UK’s best restaurants.

Renfrewshire-raised Jonathan Ferguson will be battling it out with some of the most talented young chefs in the national final of the Roux Scholarship competition.

The 25-year-old junior sous-chef, formerly of Fairlie Gleneagles, now plies his trade in two Michelin star restaurant The Raby Hunt in Darlington. 

He is also the only Scottish chef in the finals this year, within touching distance of becoming only the third chef from Scotland to win the competition.

Speaking to The Herald, Mr Ferugson spoke about what sort of mindset he intends to have heading into the final on October 25, and his disbelief of progressing from the semi-finals.

He said: “For the final I think I’ll try just be as confident as I can, or for a good Scottish term I’ll need to go down there and be gallus.

“If you’ve got to the final six there is no reason why you can’t go all the way. There’s no point in doing this half-heartedly because I think someone might be better than me. 

“You might as well go down there with nothing to lose and cook as best as you can, and if someone cooks better than me on my best day then fair enough.”

Now with the finals in sight and just under a month away, the prize for the winner is an opportunity to work in any three-star Michelin restaurant in the world of the chef’s choosing and train there for three months.

Mr Ferugson added: “When they announced the winners of the semi-final, they said my name, and I didn’t cry, but I was very very close.

“There were two finals going on, one in London and one in Birmingham, which I was in, and we were told only two from my group would go through.

“When the first name was called and it wasn’t me, I just melted into my chair thinking I was defeated because I’m stood next to incredible chefs some of whom are head chefs at Michelin star restaurants. But then they called my name, and the feeling was amazing.”

The Roux Scholarship is a cooking competition for up-and-coming chefs in the UK. Set up by the brothers Michel and Albert Roux, and now run by their sons Alain Roux and Michel Roux Jr.

It was first run in 1984 with the late Andrew Fairlie being named the first winner – a chef Jonathan spent years working under at Gleneagles.

Mr Ferguson has been cooking since the age of nine after becoming engrossed by cooking shows and then receiving his first set of cooking knives. 

He has picked up Scottish young chef of the year award aged only 19 while working in Glasgow, and also had success as the best British and Game young chef of the year.

However, the budding cook hasn’t decided which establishment he would choose if he wins.

He said: “So many people have asked me this, and the honest answer is I don’t know because I don’t want to Jinx it.

“I’ll probably not get ahead of myself, and if I do get the chance, I’d like to know what place the judges or previous winners think would be a place best suited for me.”

Win or lose in the finals, Jonathan like many other young chefs has aspirations of opening up his own restaurant back in Scotland, but he is in no hurry to do as he aims to emulate what other Scottish chefs have done.

He added: “It would be pretty special and that is very much the plan in some capacity, but I’d like to take my time doing it and remain at a certain level where I can just be a sponge and soak up as much experience and information from the chefs I work with.”

“So, when it does become time for me open my own place, I want it to be leaps and bounds above what it would be if I did it now.

“I think Scotland is going through a nice time with its food scene right now and its definitely improving year on year.

“I’ve noticed lots of Scottish cooks who have traditionally cooked abroad and they are now coming back to set up shop from where they are from. There are loads of amazing restaurants right now and one day it could be me hopefully.”