Michel Roux Senior 1941 -2020
As you may have seen in recent news, world renowned chef and restaurateur Michel Roux has died. He was aged 78.
Born in France, Michel Roux at the age of 14, was taken on as an apprentice to a grand pâtissier near Paris. Here, he spent three years honing his skills. Following some time as a pastry cook at the British embassy in Paris, he was taken on by the Rothchild family as a commis chef. Roux nearly decided to give up cooking – he wanted to become an opera singer! Thankfully instead, he followed his brother Albert to London even though he was unable to speak English.
As a pair the brothers have been described as the “godfathers of modern restaurant cuisine in the UK”. Of course, Michel Roux also went on to win several more awards and honours throughout his long career. He received several French state orders and received two lifetime achievement awards from different publications. He was also decorated during a period of National Service for France receiving the Médaille commémorative des opérations de sécurité et de maintien de l’ordre en Afrique du Nord.
Between 1960 and 1962, Roux served his French National Service and was stationed at the Palace of Versailles and later overseas in Algeria.
Le Gavroche in London, which he opened with his brother Albert in 1967, became the first in the UK to receive 3 Michelin-stars in Britain in 1982. The Roux brothers’ Waterside Inn in Bray also received three Michelin stars in 1985.
The two brothers founded Roux Brothers Scholarship in 1984. The scholarship is a cooking competition for progressive chefs in the UK that is now run by their sons Alain Roux and Michel Roux Jr on an annual basis. The winners go on to win a 3-month placement in Michelin starred restaurants including The French Laundry or Maison Pic.
Michel and Albert split their business in 1986 when the direction of the their joint business could not be agreed between them. Michel took on the Waterside Inn which his son Alain now runs. The Roux brothers’ catering company is now owned by the Company Group but Michel Roux worked as a consultant for companies such as British Airways and the Florida based Celebrity Cruises.
Many famous chefs have been trained by one of the Roux brothers. Michel Roux estimated that “half of the Michelin star holders in Britain come from either my brother’s kitchen or my kitchen”. These include Gordon Ramsay, Pierre Koffman and Marco Pierre White.
The Gascony Cookery School extends its deepest sympathy to the Roux family. We feel extremely privileged to be able to continue to teach and share our knowledge of French cooking skills. View our courses here.
David & Bernard