Norwich man crowned Britain's Best Young Chef

Oli Williamson is the 37th winner of the Roux scholarship. 

Oli Williamson is the 37th winner of the Roux scholarship. - Credit: Jodi Hinds

A chef born and raised in Norwich has won the prestigious Roux Scholarship - earning him the title of Britain's Best Young Chef. 

Oli Williamson has most recently worked as the sous chef at Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck in Bray but took home the title for the 37th competition this week. 

The 30-year-old beat five other finalists in a fiercely contested battle held at Westminster Kingsway College, London, on October 25, after the competition was postponed twice due to the pandemic. 

The contestants had to prepare two dishes that the Roux family hold dear.

The first was Eggs Albert, in honour of Albert Roux, and is an artichoke heart filled with smoked salmon, trout and truffle, topped with a poached egg and adorned with a slice of smoked salmon.  

 Cooked by Oli.

Artichoke heart filled with smoked salmon, trout and truffle, topped with a poached egg and adorned with a slice of smoked salmon. Cooked by Oli. - Credit: Jodi Hinds

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.  

 This comprised of snails and herb soufflé baked in a tartlet with beurre blanc sauce cooked by Oli.

Little Flans with Snails in Green Coats. This comprised of snails and herb soufflé baked in a tartlet with beurre blanc sauce cooked by Oli. - Credit: Jodi Hinds

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

Oli added: “It was my first time in the competition and it’s also my last because of my age." 

He added that although the competition was tough he was able to have fun - ensuring he didn't get too stressed.  

“I got myself into a good headspace, which enabled me to enjoy every minute of it, which means I cooked so well because I was happy,” Said Oli.  

He said there was an incredible calibre of chefs competing: “I am honoured to win and be part of the Roux scholar family.” 

Oli said that past and present mentors are his biggest inspirations including Daniel Clifford, Alex Dilling and Corey Lee. 

He said: “All the team I work with inspire me, seeing young chefs grow is the most inspiring part of my job.”  

Oli Williamson grew up in Norwich, his parents still live here. 

Oli Williamson grew up in Norwich, his parents still live here. - Credit: Jodi Hinds

"Now I just want to ride the wave and see what happens. I am very keen to develop further at The Fat Duck so who knows what will happen next," he said.

He added: “It feels incredible to win, and still hasn’t sunk in - its the best hangover I’ve ever had.” 

Cooked by Oli.

Artichoke heart filled with smoked salmon, trout and truffle, topped with a poached egg and adorned with a slice of smoked salmon. Cooked by Oli. - Credit: Jodi Hinds


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