Oli Williamson has been named the 2021 Roux Scholar following a tense day of competition that saw six chefs cook two dishes beloved by Michel and Albert Roux, in tribute to the competition's founders.
In a break from tradition the competitors were asked to cook two dishes, one in memory of each brother, following their deaths in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
When briefing the competitors earlier today, Alain Roux said: "In memory of our fathers we wanted to do two very special dishes."
The first dish was eggs Albert, 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 was little flans with snails in green coats, a dish of Michel's that was long-served at the Waterside Inn in Bray. The dish sees snails and a herb soufflé baked in a tartlet and served with beurre blanc sauce.
Speaking after the competition Alain added: "It was definitely [a fitting tribute]. I think the competitors enjoyed the challenge and understood why we had set it. They have tried something new and they will remember for a long time where those dishes come from."
Williamson, of the Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire, was named as winner in a ceremony held at Westminster Kingsway College this evening. He becomes the 2021 Scholar, following the competition's cancellation last year due to Covid-19.
Commenting on his dishes Michel Roux Jr said: "I think we have found ourselves an excellent scholar. We've been a long time waiting and we can finally celebrate.
"Oli's eggs Albert dish my father would have thoroughly enjoyed. Although it did not resemble the original all the component parts were perfect."
Commenting on the day's competition ahead of the winner's announcement Williamson, 30, said: "It was really tough, but fun. I changed my mental approach from the semi-final, I just decided to take it all in and enjoy it. You cook better when you are enjoying it."
He said he was thinking of heading to Singapore for his three-month stage, considering three-star restaurants including Zen and Odette.
This year's judging panel was headed by Björn Frantzén who hosted 2020 Scholar Spencer Metzger at his three-Michelin-starred Stockholm restaurant Frantzén. He was joined on the panel by Michel Roux Jr, Alain Roux, James Martin, Rachel Humphrey, Simon Hulstone, Sat Bains and Brian Turner.
The other five finalists were: Ryan Baker, Maison François, London; Ben Champkin, the Newt in Somerset; Nathan Cornwell, the Barn at Moor Hall, Lancashire; Jonnie Ferguson, the Raby Hunt, County Durham; and Curtis Tonge, the Forge, Chester.
Pictures: Jodi Hinds