Oli Williamson named head chef at three Michelin-starred The Fat Duck

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor

2021 Roux Scholar Oli Williamson has been named the new head chef at Three Michelin-starred The Fat Duck in Bray. 

The chef, whose career has seen him work in some of the world's best restaurants including Midsummer House in Cambridge, The Greenhouse in London and Benu in San Francisco, recently won the Roux Scholarship, aged 30, in the last year of his being able to compete. 

In his new role, he will be working under executive chef Edward Cooke, who was the head chef himself before replacing the restaurant's former exec, Jonny Lake, when he left in 2019.

In an interview with The Staff Canteen, Oli said about his new appointment: "It's pretty incredible, it hasn't sunk in yet." 

"I'm absolutely thrilled - somebody needs to pinch me, to have two massive life events so close together, it's a bizarre feeling.

"You question yourself when you're going through those really hard times when you're training, and now you know why you do those things, you reap the rewards of putting that effort in." 

The chef is under no illusions that he has a lot to get his teeth stuck into, but sees it as a worthy challenge.

"For me, it's the first time I've ever gone into the real management of a restaurant, I've worked at sous-chef and head chef level but never understanding the profits, the team, the real nitty-gritty of it, so I'm really excited to learn about that." 

Looking ahead to what the year might bring, he said: "I'm looking forward to building a team, getting everyone together to continue to achieve a positive working environment, working hard all together for the same goal." 

As for the state of the industry, he said, "I'm fully positive that we'll adapt to survive, as we always do, hospitality does that very well and we will hopefully learn to live with Covid and move past it." 

Pioneer of molecular gastronomy Heston Blumenthal bought the the 450-year-old pub in 1995, opening it as a simple bistro serving French classics.

In 2000, it was awarded its first Michelin star and was refurbished with its first multi-course tasting menu. Two years later, the freedom to explore and create new dishes resulted in a second Michelin star, and the year after that, it won a third.

To this day, it is the fastest a restaurant has gone from one to three Michelin stars in the UK.

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Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 14th January 2022

Oli Williamson named head chef at three Michelin-starred The Fat Duck