Michel Roux 'a true icon and trailblazer' has passed away aged 79

The Staff Canteen

'Culinary Godfather' Michel Roux has died aged 79 at home in Bray, Berkshire, following his battle with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. 

He passed away peacefully last night surrounded by his family. Michel’s son Alain and daughters, Francine and Christine, on behalf of the family told The Caterer: “It is with deep sadness that the Roux family announces the passing of our beloved grandfather, father, brother and uncle, Michel Roux OBE. The family would like to thank everyone for their support during his illness. While many of you will share our great sense of loss, we request privacy for the family at this difficult time.

"We are grateful to have shared our lives with this extraordinary man and we’re so proud of all he’s achieved. A humble genius, legendary chef, popular author and charismatic teacher, Michel leaves the world reeling in his wake. For many, he was a father figure inspiring all with his insatiable appetite for life and irresistible enthusiasm. But above all, we will miss his mischievous sense of fun, his huge, bottomless heart and generosity and kindness that knew no bounds. Michel’s star will shine forever lighting the way for a generation of chefs to follow”.

Following the news the industry has taken to social medi ato pass on their condolances to the Roux family.

Michel Roux was a legendary chef and restaurateur, every chef in the past three decades 'must have owned at least one of the Roux Brothers books'. 

Born in Charolles, Saône-et-Loire, in a room above his grandfather's charcuterie he moved to Paris with his family after the war Aged 14 he followed his older brother Albert into cooking when he became an apprentice to Camille Loyal in Belleville, working seventy-hour weeks.

Albert found Michel further employment as the pastry chef for the British Embassy. He moved on from there to become a chef in Philippe de Rothschild's service, while Albert moved to England to work there.

Between 1960 and 1962, Michel served his French National Service. He nearly decided to give up cooking to become an opera singer, but instead followed Albert to London, despite not being able to speak English. He would later recall that people thought he was mad for travelling there in view of the fact that he considered the state of English cooking at the time to be horrific.

He and brother Albert opened Le Gavroche in London's Lower Sloane Street in 1967. It became the first three Michelin-starred restaurant in Britain in 1982. In 1972 they took on the Waterside Inn in Bray, which was awarded three Michelin stars in 1985. The brothers separated their business interests in 1986 with Albert taking over Le Gavroche and Michel heading up the Waterside Inn. He handed over the restaurant to his son, Alain, in 2002 - the same year he was awarded an OBE. The restaurant remains the only one in the country to have retained three-Michelin-starred status for 30 years.

In 1984 Michel and Albert founded the Roux Scholarship competition, it has since launched the careers of  some of the UK's top chefs including Andrew Fairlie, Sat Bains and Simon Hulstone. It is one of the industry’s most acclaimed chef competitions in the UK, with many scholars having gone on to win Michelin stars for themselves.

His publications included: New Classic Cuisine (1983), At Home with the Roux Brothers (1988); Desserts: A Lifelong Passion; 2000 Life is a Menu – autobiography (1994); Sauces: Savoury and Sweet (2009); and The Essence of French Cooking (2014) – voted “Cookery Book of the Year” at the Gourmand Awards, January 2015

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 12th March 2020

Michel Roux 'a true icon and trailblazer' has passed away aged 79