Oli Williamson wins the Roux Scholarship 2020/21


Oli Williamson crowned 37th Roux Scholar

Oli Williamson has won the 2020/21 Roux Scholarship. The 30-year-old chef beat five other finalists in a fiercely contested final held at Westminster Kingsway College, London, on Monday 25th October, after the competition was postponed twice due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It was the first time the Roux Scholarship has convened since the passing of its founders Michel Roux OBE and Albert Roux OBE KFO, and in memory of their fathers Alain Roux and Michel Roux Jr asked the chefs to prepare two recipes that are held dear in the Roux Family.

The first, Eggs Albert, in honour of Albert Roux, was an artichoke heart filled with smoked salmon, trout and truffle, topped with a poached egg and adorned with a slice of smoked salmon. The second, in honour of Michel Roux OBE was Little flans with snails in green coats. This comprised of snails and herb soufflé baked in a tartlet with beurre blanc sauce. The skill was not only perfecting the recipes but getting the timing exactly right and serving the two dishes five to ten minutes apart.

Alain Roux said: “We thought the two dishes paid respect to my father and uncle in the best possible way. 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.”

Michel Roux Jr said: “Oli Williamson presented his Eggs Albert dish which would have pleased my Dad to eat. It didn’t look like the original, but every part tasted brilliant.”

Oli Williamson, who is Sous Chef at The Fat Duck in Bray, said: “It was my first time in the competition and it’s also my last because of the my age. 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.”

Oli, 30, was battling it out against the following chefs: Ryan Baker from Maison François, London; Jonathan Ferguson from The Raby Hunt, County Durham; Ben Champkin from The Newt, Somerset; Curtis Tonge, independent chef, Chester; and Nathan Cornwell from The Barn at Moor Hall.

The judging panel was led Björn Frantzén who was invited over from Stockholm to be Honorary President of Judges. He led the panel alongside joint chairmen Alain and Michel Jr, who were joined by Brian Turner, James Martin, as well as previous winners Sat Bains (1999 scholar) and Simon Hulstone (2003 scholar) and Rachel Humphrey.

The winner was announced at an exclusive awards dinner at Westminster Kingsway College in front of a small audience comprising the finalists’ guests, sponsors and judges, with the ceremony live-streamed via the Roux Scholarship website and YouTube channel. The three-course dinner was devised and prepared by the three most recent winners, Spencer Metzger, Martin Carabott and Luke Selby with support from the catering students of Westminster Kingsway College.

See how Alain and Michel prepared the final recipe