Michel Roux Jr: There's 'no shame whatsoever' in buying second hand equipment when you open a restaurant

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 5th September 2019

Legendary chef and restaurateur Michel Roux Jr took over Le Gavroche in Mayfair from his father in 1991, 24 years after it opened.

Widely seen as one of the best restaurants in the UK, having trained the likes of Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White, Pierre Koffmann, Marcus Wareing, Monica Galetti, Bryn Williams, and Jun Tanaka, it is safe to say that Michel Roux Jr knows a thing or two about running a successful business. 

This feature appeared as part of a series about how to open your own restaurant.

Other chefs include

Pip Lacey , Hicce

Emily Roux, Caractère

Tommy Banks, Roots

Tommy Heaney, Heaney's

Richard Johns, The Hovingham Inn 

Scott Smith, Fhior

Simon Bonwick, The Crown

Stay tuned for more!

Here's his advice to anyone wanting to follow in his footsteps:

Accept that your responsibilities will grow a hundredfold 

Just because you're the boss doesn't mean you can put your feet up and delegate everything to your staff. In fact, quite the opposite, you're going to need to have a hand in every pot.

"It's your name on the door and that really does make an incredible difference in pressure - and obviously you have to be able to deal with that pressure." 

Always look forward, don't look back

It's important not to fear mistakes, as, he said: "mistakes are what make you stronger." 

"I think if you can have the mindset of saying - look, I'm going to make a few mistakes on the way but the most important thing is to be stronger for making those mistakes." 

Cook for your customers, don't chase stars

As a rule of thumb, Michel Roux Jr. believes chefs shouldn't seek accolades above everything. Instead, they should cook the food they believe in.

"Don't cook what you think your customers want and don't cook what you think critics want." 

Michel Roux Jr Le Gavroche   credit Issy Croker (4)
Caption

Cook real food 

For Michel Roux Jr., too many restaurants serve food he calls "overworked, too pretty and too complex." 

He said: "You ask chefs - very high profile chefs, for example - what do they like eating and they'll tell you the most simple of food, great ingredients, simple, down to earth food. Is that what they actually present to their customers? 9 times out of 10, no." 

"I think chefs should really take a good look at themselves. What do they want to cook - what floats their boat, what do they like eating."

"Ultimately the majority of chefs will tell you the same thing - we love simple food and we love great ingredients - well, stick to that," he said.  

 Start small 

Though he took the reigns when Le Gavroche was well established, the chef said he remembers when his father moved to Mayfair on a shoestring budget. 

"We didn't get the most expensive, made to measure stove. No. It was one of the cheapest stoves around. Likewise in some of

Le Gavroche
Michel, Albert and Michel Roux Jr

the equipment. It wasn't the most expensive equipment, it was the equipment that we could afford," he said. 

"There's no shame in buying a cheaper stove or even buying second hand equipment to start you off. Absolutely no shame whatsoever."

Don't give up 

However hard it may be to get a business off the ground, the chef encourages anyone who thinks they have it in them to do it. 

"I think that it's wonderful, young chefs that take the plunge and go for it. It's not easy, it really really isn't easy to get finance and backing for a restaurant nowadays, but it is possible." 

"Do not be disheartened."

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 5th September 2019

Michel Roux Jr: There's 'no shame whatsoever' in buying second hand equipment when you open a restaurant