By Tony Winterburn • 12 March 2020 • 13:59
The chef, whose influence on British cooking and eating is almost unparalleled, was surrounded by family as he succumbed to a long-standing lung condition, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. He died at his home in Bray, Berkshire.
A statement from the family, shared on Instagram, reads: “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”.
Roux is widely regarded as one of the finest chefs to ever cook in this country, best known for opening Le Gavroche in Sloane Square with his brother Albert, in 1967. The restaurant, which has since moved to Mayfair, remains popular and is looked after by Roux’s nephew, Michel Roux Jr.
With Gavroche, Roux’s influence on English cooking was immediate, and it became the first restaurant in the UK to win a Michelin star, in 1974. Come 1982, it was the first British restaurant to claim three. The Roux brothers were also behind Bray’s Waterside Inn, which they took over in 1972, winning three stars in 1985 and retaining them ever since – making the Waterside Inn one of only a handful of restaurants in the world to hold the accolade for more than three decades, and the only one in the UK to do so.
Among those to cook under Roux were Marco Pierre White, Gordon Ramsay and Pierre Koffman; as such, Roux’s style quickly came to define much of what fine-dining meant and still means in the country today.
Michel and Albert were also among the first of the big names to cook on television – a medium they would come to hate. Their BBC show, titled simply At Home with the Roux Brothers, ran in the early 1980s and is still available to watch on Youtube; seeing the brothers squabble as they saw through bones is still worth a watch. Michel also wrote five books, including the entertaining but underappreciated Life Is A Menu, in which the chef presented his life using a series of recipes to inspire anecdotes.
Besides his own achievements, Roux is credited as an enormous influence on many chefs still working today. The Roux Brothers Scholarship, established in 1984, is said to have launched the careers of the likes of Mark Birchall, Sat Bains and the late Andrew Fairlie.
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