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Michel Roux Sr, chef who reshaped British cooking, dies aged 78 | Food


Michel Roux Sr, the French chef and restaurateur whose work profoundly reshaped British cooking, has died aged 78.

His family were at his side at the family home in Bray, Berkshire, when he passed away from a longstanding lung condition, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, on Wednesday evening.

They described him on Thursday as a “humble genius” who had an “insatiable appetite” for life.

“We are grateful to have shared our lives with this extraordinary man and we’re so proud of all he’s achieved. A humble genius, legendary chef, popular author and charismatic teacher, Michel leaves the world reeling in his wake,” a statement said.

“For many, he was a father figure inspiring all with his insatiable appetite for life and irresistible enthusiasm. But above all, we will miss his mischievous sense of fun, his huge, bottomless heart and generosity and kindness that knew no bounds. Michel’s star will shine forever, lighting the way for a generation of chefs to follow.”

Roux brought Paris-style fine dining to London in the 1960s and he leaves an enduring legacy. He trained some of the most distinguished chefs in London, including Gordon Ramsay, Pierre Koffmann and Marco Pierre White.

Antony Worrall Thompson said Roux changed the face of British dining and that thanks to him nobody could ever dismiss the quality of food in the UK.

“He was a great man, he always had an arty glint in his eye, he had a great chuckle and was a great chef,” he told the Guardian. “He and his brother Albert adopted this country very much like their own. They were the first people in the country to win three Michelin stars. We were considered a joke before them.”

Worrall Thompson, who was mentored by Roux and asked him and his wife, Robyn, to be his first child’s godparents, celebrated how he “put cooking on the map” in the UK.

“No one can ever say the food in Britain is bad any more,” he said. “They started that; They lifted it out of the grey, Edwardian era. There was no passion in it.”

Michel and Albert Roux opened Le Gavroche on Sloane Square, in London, in 1967 and it became the first restaurant in the UK to win a Michelin star, before going on to become the country’s first three-Michelin-starred restaurant.

Roux’s nephew, Michel Roux Jr, is also a renowned chef and now runs the ground-breaking restaurant. Roux’s other restaurant, the Waterside Inn in Bray-on-Thames, emulated its Michelin rating and has held the accolade ever since; the only restaurant in Britain to have retained its three stars for more than 30 years.

Roux was born in Charolles, a small town in Bourgogne, eastern France, in April 1941. He worked as a pastry cook in the British embassy in Paris and for the Rothschild family before moving to London where he opened the restaurants. He went on to write books, appear on television programmes and found a prestigious competition for chefs.

He was awarded an OBE in 2002, and received France’s highest honour, the Chevalier de la L├ęgion d’Honneur, two years later.

Brian Turner, a chef and the president of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, said Michel and Albert had a poor upbringing and that experience taught them to create wonderful, flavoursome food “out of anything”.

“His real legacy is the Roux scholarship, a major culinary prize which has changed the lives of chefs for the better over the last 30 years,” he said. “He will be sorely missed. He and his brother have done an awful lot for this country.”

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