Emily Roux on her first restaurant Caractère and why she will be taking a front of house role!

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 28th September 2018

Emily Roux and her husband Diego Ferrari knew when they came back to London three years ago that the capital was where they wanted to open their own restaurant.

They’ve been looking ever since and finally last year they found what they were looking for. Next week they will finally open the doors to Caractère  in Notting Hill.

building site

Caractère in the beginning

credit @caractererestaurant

“We are nearly there!” Emily laughed. “It’s still quite manic but most things are in place and anything which isn’t apparently doesn’t faze the project managers or builders at all!”

“I think it looks even better than what I wanted, and the kitchen is really beautiful.”

The pair need little introduction, Emily is the daughter of Michel Roux Jr and has been passionate about food from a young age training as a chef in her own right. Italian born Diego has worked for Alain Ducasse and for the past three years has been head chef at Michel’s two Michelin-starred Le Gavroche.

It may not be as people expected but Emily will in fact be running the front of house at Caractère , although she says Diego has mentioned she may be helping on pastry!

“We’ve done all the menus together, but I think if we were both together in one kitchen it might not go so well! So, I prefer having him in the kitchen and me looking after the front of house. I feel so invested in it all that I need to be there.

“I don’t think I’ll miss the kitchen because for one I can jump in whenever I want and we will always design the menus together. I think it will be a really good combination. When I’m in the kitchen and I can’t see the room I often wish I had a pair of eyes in the room to say what each table was doing. It’s very rare to find that harmony and trust with someone who is working the room.

kitchen

"The kitchen is really beautiful."

credit @caractererestaurant

“I think we will definitely have that because I trust him one hundred percent and he trusts me one hundred percent.”

She added: “I definitely wouldn’t do it on my own if Diego wasn’t by my side I would have had a melt down! It’s good to have a second opinion on everything.”

Inevitably Emily will come up against pressure because of her name and those expecting Le Gavroche style cuisine and interior, but she is clear that Caractère is completely different.

“I’m not even thinking about that at the moment, I’m more concerned about everything being delivered on time and will people like it rather than the pressure of my name. I think that will come later down the line.

“And I’m sure there will be expectation but we are going to do the best we can, but we are going to do it the way we have always wanted to do it. Simple food, well executed and somewhere we would like to eat.

“We will be very different, so people can’t make that judgement against Le Gavroche.”

Emily says her Dad has been ‘super helpful’ throughout the whole process.

“He tells us what he does and doesn’t like, and he’s been very involved in the design. But he has been a lot more distant in terms of the menu.”

She added: “He’s wise, he’s got 52 years of restaurant trading in him and I have zero!”

Celeriac « Cacio e Pepe »

Celeriac “cacio e pepe” with extra-aged

balsamic vinegar

credit @caractererestaurant

The menu at the 60-seater restaurant includes over 200 wines and dishes such as crispy veal sweetbread, roasted artichokes, olive paste and harissa jus; Roast rack of Herdwick lamb, grilled aubergine, ras el hanout and lamb jus and Emily’s favourite dish Celeriac “cacio e pepe” with extra-aged balsamic vinegar.

She said: “We’ve tried and tested all the dishes at home and for the family – the menu has actually been quite plain sailing.

“The most difficult thing was the wine list – we both love our wines and making a concise wine menu when you absolutely love and would like the whole planet of wine wasn’t possible. We had to reduce it!”

Caractère is open Tuesday to Saturday for lunch and dinner and as with any new venture Emily says both her and husband Diego are having trouble sleeping but the pair are positive and optimistic that everything will fall into place ready for opening on October 4.

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 28th September 2018

Emily Roux on her first restaurant Caractère and why she will be taking a front of house role!