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Albert Roux

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Template:Infobox chef Albert Henri Roux OBE (8 October 1935 – 4 January 2021) was a French restaurateur and chef working in Britain. He and his brother Michel operated Le Gavroche in London's Mayfair, the first restaurant in the UK to gain three Michelin stars. He helped train a series of chefs that went on to win Michelin stars, and his son, Michel Roux, Jr., continues to run Le Gavroche.

Early life[edit source | edit]

Albert Roux was born in the village of Semur-en-Brionnais in Saône-et-Loire, France on 8 October 1935.[1] He was the son of a charcutier. His brother, Michel Roux, was born in 1941. Upon leaving school, he initially intended to train as a priest at the age of 14. However, he decided that the role was not suited to him, sought other employment, and instead trained as a chef. His godfather worked as a chef for Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, and arranged for Roux, at the age of 18, to be employed working for Nancy Astor, Viscountess Astor.[2]

Career[edit source | edit]

In one notable incident whilst employed by the Viscountess, Roux managed to jam oeufs en cocotte in a dumbwaiter which were due to go to Harold Macmillan, then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.[2] Otherwise, his apprenticeship at Cliveden went without problems.[2] He moved on to work at the British Embassy in Paris and became a private chef for Sir Charles Clore. He was then called up by the French Armed Forces to serve his military service in Algeria, where he cooked on occasion for the officer's mess. Once he left the military, he worked as a sous chef at the British Embassy in Paris, before returning to the UK to become private chef to Major Peter Cazalet where he worked for eight years.[3]

In 1967, Roux and his younger brother Michel opened Le Gavroche, on Lower Sloane Street in London.[4] It became the first restaurant in Britain to win a Michelin star, the first to win two, and, in 1982, the first to win three.[4] The restaurant became a favourite of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.[2] In 1984, he and Michel set up the Roux Scholarship to enable up and coming chefs to get a start in the industry.[4] During his time in the kitchen, he trained several chefs who went on to gain Michelin stars of their own, including Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White, Pierre Koffmann, and Sat Bains.[5] Roux spoke highly of Gordon Ramsay: "I recognised straightaway that Gordon would go a long way."[2]

Of all his protégés, Roux no longer got on with White, and said in an interview in 2010, "We don't talk. No, he is a truly talented man – and a man who used to call me his godfather – but he has got a chip on his shoulder".[2] White mentions the rift in his autobiography, but says, "Albert employing me was without doubt one of the defining moments of my life. I won't hear a word said against [the Roux brothers]."[6]

Roux continued to run a series of restaurants around the world, through his company, founded by his wife Cheryl, Chez Roux Limited,[7] including one at the Greywalls Hotel in Muirfield, Gullane,[8] and Roux at the Landau, situated in the Langham Hotel,[9] as well as Roux at Parliament Square and multiple Chez Roux restaurants.[10][11] He collaborated with his son, Michel Roux Jr., to open co-branded restaurants at Inverlochy Castle and Crossbasket Castle in Blantyre in Scotland.[11] He no longer chased Michelin stars for his restaurants, but instead sought to "...recreate the kind of restaurant I remember from my home town, offering good and honest country cooking. The kind of place you can go to eat without ringing the bank for permission."[7] In 2006, Albert and Michel Roux were jointly given the Lifetime Achievement Award by S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants.[4]

Personal life[edit source | edit]

Roux had a love of fishing, and had travelled around the world to pursue his hobby, but was particularly fond of Scotland, saying, "For me, the Highlands and islands of Scotland are paradise. I can have whole days where I catch nothing, but I still enjoy every second. I am a lover of nature and fishing allows me access to some of the most beautiful and secluded spots in the world."[12]

In 2016, Roux was divorced by his second wife, Cheryl Smith. He married his third wife, Maria Rodrigues, in January 2018, three years after meeting her. Maria is a director in a professional services firm.[13] His son Michel Roux, Jr. still runs Le Gavroche, which has two Michelin stars.[8] Albert Roux died in London on 4 January 2021, following a long illness.[5][14]

References[edit source | edit]

  1. "Albert Roux, OBE, KFO | Roux Scholarship". Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Walden, Celia (3 April 2010). "Albert Roux interview: My recipe for success? Not going into the priesthood". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 11 May 2010.
  3. Hind, John (18 May 2014). "Seven ages of a chef: Albert Roux". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "Albert & Michel Roux – 2006". The S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants. Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Ellis, David (6 January 2021). "Tributes paid to chef Albert Roux as restaurateur dies aged 85". Evening Standard. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  6. Thring, Oliver (21 April 2011). "How the Roux family educated the British palate". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 May 2011.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Shields, Tom (29 March 2009). "Getting stuffed with Albert Roux". The Herald. Retrieved 11 May 2011.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Coventry, Laura (8 April 2010). "Legendary French chef Albert Roux reveals his love of the Highlands as he opens new Scots restaurants". The Daily Record. Retrieved 11 May 2011.
  9. Harmer, Janet (29 April 2015). "Roux family to run F&B at the Langham, London". The Caterer. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  10. Gallagher, Sophie. "Albert Roux death: French chef dies aged 85". The Independent. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Roux culinary dynasty to open two new Scottish restaurants". The Daily Record. 4 February 2016. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  12. Valentine, Ian (July 2010). "Gone fishin' with Albert Roux". GQ. Archived from the original on 2 January 2011. Retrieved 11 May 2011.
  13. Wells, Emma (16 September 2007). "Heavenly oast". The Times. Retrieved 11 May 2011.
  14. Hauser, Christine (6 January 2021). "Albert Roux, Chef Who Brought French Cuisine to London, Dies at 85". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 January 2021.

External links[edit source | edit]