Steve Groves on Roux at Parliament Square's closure: 'It was massively disappointing for it to come to an end because of Covid'

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor

Many experienced the pain of a restaurant closure last year, and one such person was Steve Groves.

The Essex-born chef worked at Roux at Parliament Square from 2010 until it closed last year, prior to which he worked at Launceston Place - where he was a senior-sous chef when he took part in (and won) MasterChef: The Professionals in 2009. 

He had it in his mind that winning the competition would impress judge Michel Roux Jr., and indeed - in victory, the chef offered him a job. He remained at the helm, and worked there when he became the Craft Guild of Chefs' National Chef of the Year 2020, until the restaurant closed in the midst of the pandemic last year.

Seeking another challenge, Steve moved to the Glynebourne Opera House in the Sussex countryside, where he is now the executive chef.

Aside from a fun chat about all things MasterChef: The Professionals - from competing at a time when Michel Roux Jr. was the main man to impress to why the production on the show should introduce a cup of tea and toast skills test - Grilled podcast host Cara Houchen and co-host Steven Edwards caught up with Steve Groves about what he's up to now. 

"It's great, it's a really different challenge," he said, miles away - geographically and offering-wise - from the chef's previous assignment. 

As well as three restaurants on site, the team prepare picnics for Opera-goers, and, being a very seasonal location, a lot of Steve's work involves planning for the seasons to come. 

Whilst this year has been one of figuring out the operation at Glyndebourne - and getting used to the pace - he continued, "Next year will be the year where I can really make more of an impact.

"Logistically it's quite challenging because we cook for everybody in the long interval from the opera, so you have an hour and a half to feed everybody, and when there's a full capacity, you're looking at 700 covers in that hour and a half timeframe." 

"It's a big challenge in that sense but we make sure that we deliver it to a really high standard because Glyndebourne is world-class opera so we want to make sure that the food there is really up there with it. 

While it is hard not to be wistful given the way the iconic Roux restaurant came to close, the chef is excited to take on the new challenge.

"I was at Parliament Square for ten years so it was obviously a big part of my life," he said.

"A lot of people would always ask, 'how long are you going to stay there for,' and I always felt like there was room to grow there, there were always things I wanted to achieve, so for that to come to an end because of Covid was massively disappointing, but for me it was about finding something next that excited me." 

"A lot of opportunities came up, but I wanted to try something different. I wanted it to be somewhere where people were still going for a real experience and a sense of occasion - that's why Glyndebourne appealed to me." 

"That continuity was something that I wanted," he said. 

"It is completely different, but it tests you in different ways. I always like a challenge," he smiled. "Hence all the competitions."  

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Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 24th November 2021

Steve Groves on Roux at Parliament Square's closure: 'It was massively disappointing for it to come to an end because of Covid'