10 Minutes With: Emily Roux

The  Staff Canteen

Emily Roux will join her chef father Michel Roux Jr in the kitchen at Le Gavroche as part of the 25 year celebratory events.

2016 marks 25 years since Chef Patron Michel Roux Jr took the reins of Le Gavroche from his father, Albert Roux OBE. In honour of this, Michel will be hosting a series of celebratory events throughout the year at the restaurant as part of the renowned Roux experience and one of these will see his daughter Emily in the kitchen.

The Staff Canteen spoke to Emily about heading up tonights all-female chef line-up, what it’s like when your dad is so renowned and why she chose to leave the UK and train in France.

Emily Roux, Le Gavroche
Emily Roux, Le Gavroche

Emily Roux was pretty much born in the kitchen. Being a part of a family with such an esteemed reputation it was inevitable that she too would develop a passion for cooking although her mum was not so keen for her to join the culinary world! “It was just normal for me,” explained Emily.

“I was brought up around food and in the kitchen but I left London a few years before my father was on MasterChef so I didn’t really see the evolution of the whole media thing. I’ve been away for the past six years so I’ve missed all that.”

She added: “My mum was kind of against me going into this field. She’s also from a hospitality/catering upbringing so she knows about the hours and the hard work."She said 'if you want a life and a family that’s really not the way to go’.

“But I just love the feel of the kitchen and the people you work with are pretty much your family at some point. You’re there five, six days a week and the banter and energy, even if it’s stressful, is just what I loved from day one really.”

Leaving the UK for Lyon, Emily took herself out of the spotlight, Roux is a common name in France and didn’t carry the same preconceptions she may have found in the UK. She studied at the Institut Paul Bocuse before going to work in Monaco and then Paris for three years. She worked for two years at Akrame with Michelin-starred chef Akrame Benallal.

Emily said: “He was Algerian from origin, a very young chef who is inspirational, modern, different… sometimes a little weird! He’s wacky in a good way.”Agnolotti 1 low res

Having learned the classics, Emily was drawn to Akrame because she wanted to step out of her classical background and training, and do something fun.

“Akrame dishes are quite minimalist on the plate,” Emily explained. “It’s very visual and he’s not scared of blending ingredients which at first you think ‘really?’ He’s just very good at that and very imaginative.”

Heading into the kitchen tonight at Le Gavroche, Emily wants to showcase her food and highlight how important it is for women to be championed in the kitchen too. And this time Michel Roux Jr will not be putting on his whites, he’ll be dining, but Emily says it’s not the first time she’s cooked for him.

“I did a valentines meal for my parents when I was about eight!” Said Emily. “It was salmon and I cubed and sautéed some potatoes, which weren’t properly cooked. It was very sweet, but they didn’t quite finish the potatoes! emily roux quote

“Tonight dad will be eating which means he will have nothing to do with it! When he’s in the kitchen it’s his territory so it’s normal for him to want to offer advice. But I love cooking for him, he’s very fair and he won’t say good things if it’s not good and equally he won’t say bad things if it’s not bad.

“We’re a really easy going family and when it comes to food, simple is always better.”

After six years away Emily has returned to London and is working as a consultant for Restaurant Associates with the aim of eventually opening her own restaurant.

“London is my hometown, I was born and raised here and I really missed the London vibe,” explained Emily.

“I really feel that London is in a great state of mind when it comes to restaurants and it has more variety than Paris. By that I mean you can have great French food, great English food, great Indian, great Korean…that seems to lack a little bit in Paris. I was just excited to get back here.”

She added: “I definitely want to create my own niche, that’s the plan, to open something of my own but I’ve not been back for very long and so I need to adapt to this new city that’s changed so very much.

“I’m currently doing lots of different things, as well as working for Restaurant Associates I’m in the process of doing a cook book and that’s taking a lot of my time! It’s in collaboration with my mother who is an extremely good baker. I’ll also be doing more pop ups like this one tonight.”

Emily will be joined in the kitchen by Angela Hartnett and Rachel Humphrey as they collaborate on a menu and draw focus on women in hospitality. “It was an idea both myself and my father had,” said Emily.

“Women in hospitality is an ongoing discussion, I was at an event debating this just last week and how we can get more women into the industry, this male dominated industry – so this event seemed like a really good idea especially with Rachel being the executive chef of Le Gavroche. And we thought we’d partner up with someone else to make it a really special event.Michel & Emily - Kitchen 3 low res

“Rachel is a hundred percent English, I’m a bit of French and Angela will be a bit of Italy so we have three countries and it will be great fun.”

Emily added: “When I was young, I really liked Anne-Sophie Pic, she also took over from her father and she’s really inspirational. Then growing up I guess Monica Galetti, Rachel and Angela of course, they are all really well established now and they have done amazingly well. They show you that it can be done.”

As a chef Emily is clearly passionate about seeing more women in the kitchen but does this change the dynamics of that environment in a positive way?

“I’ve known Rachel since I was only a few years old, the team she has is young and there are some girls in there as well so it’s enjoyable working there,” said Emily.

“Having women in the kitchen changes it to a certain extent but you do need men and women in a team. You need two or three level headed women who are calm and don’t react – you just need the right balance. “Hopefully it will change, there are a lot more young female chef role models now, with families, with restaurants and achieving all their goals.” low res

Tonight each chef has two dishes and Emily will be doing the fish and the cheese course, she will also be taking over The Staff Canteen Instagram account so you can see first-hand the dishes she, Rachel and Angela cook from start to finish.

“Social media is so important,” said Emily.

“It’s probably not that important for Le Gavroche itself because it’s been established for so many years that people know it but I think for any young chef who wants to get out there it’s vitally important.”

She added: “My grandfather can only just answer the phone on his iPhone! I don’t think he texts, but he is 80 so we give him a hand. I think he sees the importance of social media but I don’t think he grasps how important.

“I think it is fun I guess because I’m not addicted to it, I enjoy posting two or three pictures on Instagram but also looking at other peoples, you find some great restaurants on there.”

Emily is hoping to do one pop up a month at Le Gavroche, with a few lined up in other locations so you can still sample her food while she is looking for a London restaurant of her own.

By Cara Houchen


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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 25th April 2016

10 Minutes With: Emily Roux