Oli Williamson has announced he will be leaving his role as head chef at three Michelin-starred, The Fat Duck.

Cara Houchen

Oli Williamson has announced he will be leaving his role as head chef at three Michelin-starred, The Fat Duck, and will be moving to Bordeaux for a new challenge.

He explained he and his wife, Marie, who is assistant manger at Core, had been talking about a move to France pre-covid in order to be closer to her family, so it was always on the cards but he is yet to decide where his next role will be.

“It was a really hard decision because obviously I love this place, this is the best job I’ve ever had. I’ve had a lot of good jobs but leading this huge team, it’s an emotional roller coaster but a really rewarding position.

“I’m torn with moving to France, there's obviously a lot of anxiety around what I am going to do over there and shifting my focus from being career driven to focusing on family, buying a house and hopefully one day opening a restaurant in Bordeaux. But I have to balance my life out a bit and I can’t always be career, career, career and living in London in the rat race.”

On his time at The Fat Duck, he’s proud of what he and the team have achieved and the plans they have put in place for the future.

“It almost feels like we are just getting started – there is a lot of focus on, I hate the buzz word of sustainability, so I like to call it conscious gastronomy. It has a big footing here and we have these huge plans drawn up and with me leaving I’m handing them over.”

Being sustainable also applies to the staff and in January last year, the team included 18 chefs after Covid and that has doubled now – there are 40 in the kitchen.

“The culture here is really good and the senior team has really grown, they’ve come on the journey with me with looking after people, coaching them - they work hard and they work to a high standard so we try to look after them, keep the hours down and other things,” explained Oli. “That reaps rewards for us as we now have the team we need for our business model."

Oli will leave The Fat Duck on March 11 and first head to Singapore to complete his two month stage at Björn Frantzén’s Zén as part of his prize for winning The Roux Scholarship 2020/21.

Oli said: “It’s going to be incredible. It’s another thing where I’m going in to the unknown and out of my comfort zone but I’m looking forward to experiencing another culture and cuisine. I’ve never been to that side of the world so hopefully it’ll give me a chance to explore a bit as well.

“I feel so lucky. You get so many prizes as a winner, but that prize is just insane.”

Executive head chef, Ed Cooke, will continue to grow the senior team and Oli’s replacement will be from within The Fat Duck team but it’s yet to be announced who that is.

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Cara Houchen

Cara Houchen

Editor 14th February 2023

Oli Williamson has announced he will be leaving his role as head chef at three Michelin-starred, The Fat Duck.