Celebrity chef Michel Roux Jr talks about timeless French cooking and his love of chocolate and cheese souffle
Michel Roux Jr was born in 1960 in Pembury, Kent. He left school at 16 for the first of several challenging apprenticeships in Paris from 1976 to 1979. His military service was spent in the kitchens at the Elysée Palace. He took over running Le Gavroche in 1991. In 2010, Michel opened Roux at Parliament Square and Roux at The Landau at luxury hotel, The Langham. Michel has been a judge on MasterChef: The Professionals, and presented all three series of Great British Food Revival. He is involved with the Roux Experience courses at the ‘Cactus Kitchens’ cookery school based in Clapham (www.cactuskitchens.co.uk) and has run 19 marathons in support of VICTA, a charity supporting visually impaired children.
Describe your cooking style?
My cooking style is classically French in inspiration and at its heart, but of course Le Gavroche menus have evolved to suit modern tastes and presentation.
What’s the best advice you have received?
Listen to your father!
What’s the best advice you have given?
Never give up, whether your passion is for cooking or anything else.
You have worked with many young chefs. Who do you consider your protégé?
There are so many fantastic chefs that have walked through the kitchen doors at Le Gavroche, as well as our fantastic Roux Scholarship finalists, so it’s impossible to pick one. I’m immensely proud of all the chefs I have worked with at the start of their careers who have gone on to achieve great things. Rachel Humphrey is our head chef at Le Gavroche. She started her career with us 19 years ago, and it’s been incredible to see her talents grow.
I love working with the head chefs at our other London restaurants. They are hugely talented. Chris King at the Langham Hotel and Jamie Draper at Roux at the Landau are creating wonderful and distinctive dishes; Steve Groves at Roux at Parliament Square has gone from strength to strength since he won his place at MasterChef: The Professionals and joined us shortly afterwards.
What is your current food obsession?
All food is my obsession! I like to keep up with the varying culinary trends around the world as it’s so incredibly important to what I do and love, but I try not to jump from trend to trend. I stick to my roots and whilst my dishes have adapted over the years, ultimately they will always stay true to classic French cooking – it’s what my guests expect when they come to the restaurant.
What’s a great seasonal dinner for October that people can cook at home?
Game is wonderful in the Autumn, so I’d recommend roast leg of venison. I have a delicious recipe for roast leg of venison with pears, chestnuts, and pepper sauce in my cookery book The French Kitchen.
What food and wine would you travel miles for?
There aren’t many places I wouldn’t travel to for quality chocolate with a glass of Gosset Celebris, but my favourite place to enjoy them is at home with my wife.
What is your signature dish?
The dish that we can never take off the menu at Le Gavroche is Soufflé Suissesse – cheese soufflé cooked with double cream. Deliciously indulgent!
What would be your desert island dish?
Roasted lobster dipped in hot, melted butter.
What is your must have cooking implement?
My Michel Roux Jr Global Knife Set, of course!