The Roux Scholarship 2017 Final Six: Oliver Downey

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 7th April 2017

The final of the Roux Scholarship 2017 will be held at Westminster Kingsway College on April 10 and there are six regional finalists all hoping to take this year's crown, one of which is Oliver Downey.

In a special briefing by the judges, 30 minutes before the start of the competition, the finalists are given the recipe and ingredients for a main dish, either classic or modern and asked to prepare and present it. The Staff Canteen spoke to each finalist to find out more about them and what The Roux Scholarship means to them - next up is Oliver Downey.

Oliver Downey started his studies at University of West London, but soon afterwards, his ambition earned him a place at two Michelin starred Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons with Raymond Blanc, and two Michelin starred Le Gavroche with Michel Roux Jr. Having received a solid classical training, Oliver moved on to Fera at Claridges, where he works alongside 2008 Roux Scholar Dan Cox.

WATCH LIVE:

To find out which chef wins tune in at 7pm on 10th April to watch The Roux Scholarship Award ceremony LIVE via rouxscholarship.co.uk, YouTube and Twitter 

Who or what influences you most in cooking? And how would you describe your style?

I really like food at Fera. I ate here twice and the second time I came here to eat, I actually asked Dan for a job after my meal. He’s been a big influence on me. He’s been a real role model and mentor towards me. He was the one that pushed me to do The Roux Scholarship, so he and Simon [Rogan] were really big influences for me.

It’s quite hard to describe your own style. I’m still quite young so I probably don’t really have my own style just yet. Cooking the food that we cook now at Fera is what I like to eat. I am interested in modern British. I really enjoy the foraging side of food, like the interesting ingredients we get. In the future, I think that’s what’s going to be my style.

Why did you enter the Roux Scholarship?

I’ve always wanted to do other things; it just gets a little monotonous in the kitchen every day. As soon as Dan said to me ‘this is something that you would benefit from and you should do; why don’t you start researching into it’, it was something I really wanted to do.

Le Gavroche is celebrating 50 years this year and has been the training ground for a number of amazing chefs, how influential have the Rouxs been to you as a chef even before the competition?

I loved working with Michel Jr, I enjoyed my time there. They are a great institution; that’s why I went to work there. I guess they influenced everyone, including Dan, because of what they’ve done over the years.

Oliver Downey low res
Oliver Downey

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself that people may not know.

I love all music but house and techno music is a bit of a passion for me.

How do you prepare for a competition like the Roux Scholarship and do you have any ‘good luck’ rituals or charms?

I think the thing to do is just to be totally devoted. The two weeks leading up to the regionals I spent every minute of free time that I had practicing, focusing, trying things. You just have to devote all of your time to do it. I don’t have a lucky charm or a ritual, just practice, practice, practice, focus, and attention to detail.

What are your plans for the future?

Well, let’s just see if I win The Roux Scholarship first… I’d like to go and work abroad next. I’ve been working in England for six years now, so I’d like to go and work somewhere different. I’d like to work in Spain. Half my family is Spanish, so I would like to go and work there, pick up the language. I’m also really interested in what they’re doing in Australia at the moment. Something really different and it’s a different lifestyle as well.

Oliver has also received the Annual Awards of Excellence in 2014. This is his first entrance into Roux Scholarship, taking him to the finals.

>>> Read more about this year's Roux Scholars



by Thao Ly Nguyen

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 7th April 2017

The Roux Scholarship 2017 Final Six: Oliver Downey