Tributes have been paid across the world of gastronomy to Michel Roux OBE, also known as Michel Roux Snr, who died surrounded by his family in Bray, southern England. He was 78.
Roux did more than most to transform the UK culinary scene in the second half of the 20th century, notably by co-founding Le Gravroche restaurant with his brother, Albert, in 1967; now run by Albert’s son, Michel Roux Jr.
‘Michel’s star will shine forever, lighting the way for a generation of chefs to follow,’ said the Roux Scholarship, a prestigious competition for UK chefs that Roux Snr co-created in the 1980s.
The Michelin Guide called Roux a titan who ‘inspired a whole generation of chefs’.
Roux was born in southern Burgundy, in the commune of Charolles. He later worked as a chef at the British Embassy in Paris, before being appointed head chef to the Rothschild family aged just 22.
He would, however, spend much of his career in the UK.
While still in his 20s, Roux founded Le Gavroche restaurant with his brother, Albert, on London’s Lower Sloane Street.
Le Gavroche became the first UK restaurant to be awarded the coveted three Michelin stars in 1982. Today, the restaurant is run by Michel Roux Jr, son of Albert and a celebrated chef in his own right.
The Roux brothers also founded the Waterside Inn at Bray in Berkshire, which gained three Michelin stars in 1985 and is now run by Alain Roux, son of Michel Snr.
When not in the kitchen, Roux Snr published many books and took a great interest in the wine-buying side of the business, visiting the Bordeaux en primeur tastings and also buying Burgundy wines at the annual Hospices de Beaune auction.
He also created the Roux Scholarship, again alongside his brother, in 1984.
The idea was to create a competition that would highlight talent among chefs in the UK, at a time when British fine dining was considered something of an oxymoron in some circles.
‘We are grateful to have shared our lives with this extraordinary man, and we’re so proud of all he has achieved,’ said the Roux Scholarship, now run by Alain Roux and Michel Roux Jr, on its Instagram account.
It described Roux Snr as a ‘humble genius, legendary chef, popular author and charismatic teacher’.
It added, ‘But above all, we will miss his mischievous sense of fun, his huge, bottomless heart and generosity and kindness that knew no bounds.’