Oli Williamson wins 2020/21 Roux Scholarship

By BigHospitality

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The Fat Duck sous chef Oli Williamson wins 2020/21 Roux Scholarship

Related tags: The fat duck, Oli Williamson, Restaurant, Fine dining, Roux scholarship

Oli Williamson has been named the winner of the 2020/21 Roux Scholarship cooking competition.

The 30-year-old sous chef at The Fat Duck beat five other finalists in a final held yesterday (25 October) at London’s Westminster Kingsway College.

It was the first time the competition has been held since the deaths of its founders Michel Roux and Albert Roux, with the chef tasked with having to prepare two Roux family recipes in their honour - Eggs Albert and Little flans with snails in green coats.

Following the cook-off, Williamson was crowned the winner, ahead of fellow chef competitors Ryan Baker from Maison François; Jonathan Ferguson from The Raby Hunt,; Ben Champkin from The Newt; Curtis Tonge, an independent chef; and Nathan Cornwell from The Barn at Moor Hall.

“Oli presented a ‘Little flans with snails in green coats’ dish which would have pleased my Dad to eat,” says Michel Roux. “It didn’t look like the original, but every part tasted brilliant.”

“We thought the two dishes paid respect to my father and uncle in the best possible way,” says Alain Roux. “They were favourites of theirs and became signature dishes. They made the dishes in the very early days when they opened Le Gavroche together and we continue to serve them occasionally, even today.”

The judging panel was led Björn Frantzén with joint chairmen Alain and Michel Jr as well as Brian Turner,  Rachel Humphrey and James Martin, as well as previous Roux Scholarship winners Sat Bains and Simon Hulstone.

“It was my first time in the competition and it’s also my last because of the my age,” says Williamson.

“It was really tough but great fun. I have changed my mental approach these last few days. I was very stressed at the Regional Finals and so I decided to just go for it and enjoy it and try to be less stressed.

“Two dishes were a lot to do, there were lots of smaller things, loads of little bits to bring together, and you needed to be smart with your ingredients.”

It was third time lucky for this year's Roux Scholarship, with the competition having previously been postponed twice due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Related topics: Chef

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