The legendary chef behind Le Gavroche and The Waterside Inn has died at home in Berkshire
French chef and restaurateur Michel Roux Snr has died at the age of 78. Described by his family as a ‘humble genius’ who had an ‘insatiable appetite’ for life, the three-Michelin-star chef passed away at home in Bray, Berkshire on Wednesday 11th March, from the lung condition idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
Celebrity chef James Martin led the tributes, which have poured in from others in the industry including fellow Frenchmen Raymond Blanc and Fred Sirieix. Chef and president of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Brian Turner has said that ‘gastronomy and cooking in the UK have lost their greatest modern champion,’ while the Michelin Guide UK tweeted: ‘Michel Roux OBE was a true titan of the hospitality industry. He inspired a whole generation of chefs and the UK restaurant scene would not be what it is today were it not for his influence’.
Michel Roux Snr and his brother Albert opened Le Gavroche in London in 1967, and in 1982 it became the first restaurant in the UK to be awarded three Michelin stars. Following the success of Le Gavroche, which has been run by Michel Roux Snr’s nephew, Michel Roux Jnr, since 1991, the Roux brothers opened The Waterside Inn in Bray in 1972. This second venture also went on to achieve three Michelin stars in 1985 and is the only restaurant outside of France to have retained all three stars ever since. In November 2018, Roux Snr and son Alain opened their riverside brasserie Roux at Skindles, in Taplow near Maidenhead Bridge.
Michel Roux Snr was born on 19 April 1942 in the town of Charolles in Saône-et-Loire, Burgundy, where he lived above his grandfather’s charcuterie shop. In an interview with FRANCE Magazine in 2015 he said, ‘I could tell the day of the week from the smell of the food being prepared. All my childhood memories are about food.’
In 1946 the family moved to Paris, which is where his passion for cooking really began. He went on to become the youngest ever personal head chef to Cécile de Rothschild and was awarded the Meilleur Ouvrier de France en Pâtisserie in 1976. He received an OBE in 2002 and the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in 2004. A prolific author and much-loved TV chef, in recent years he has devoted his time to the Roux Scholarship, which he founded with brother Albert in 1984. Considered to be one of the most prestigious culinary competitions in the world, it offers the winner a life-changing opportunity that includes a coveted three-month stage at a three-Michelin-star restaurant and guidance from the Roux family for the duration of their career.