Chef Albert Roux, photographed in 2010 by Richard Vines
8 October 1935 |
Charolles, Saône-et-Loire, France
Albert Roux OBE (born 8 October 1935) is a French-born restaurateur and chef working in Britain. He and his brother Michel operated Le Gavroche, the first restaurant in the UK to gain three Michelin stars. He helped train a series of chefs that went on to win Michelin stars, and his son, Michel Roux, Jr. continues to run Le Gavroche.
Roux, the son of a charcutier, was born at 67 Grande Rue, Semur-en-Brionnais, Saône-et-Loire. Upon leaving school, he initially decided to train as a priest at the age of 14, however he decided that the role was not suited for him and sought other employment and instead trained as a chef. His godfather worked as a chef for Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, and arranged for Albert, at the age of 18, to be employed working for Nancy Astor, Viscountess Astor.
In one notable incident whilst employed by the Viscountess, Albert managed to jam oeufs en cocotte in a dumb waiter which were due to go to Harold Macmillan, then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Otherwise, his apprenticeship at Cliveden went without problems. He moved on to work at the French embassy in London and became a private chef for Sir Charles Clore. He was then called up by the French Armed Forces to serve his military service in Algeria, where he would cook on occasion for the officer's mess. Once he left the military, he worked as a sous chef at the British Embassy in Paris, before returning to the UK to become private chef to Major Peter Cazalet where he worked for eight years.
In 1967 he and his younger brother Michel opened Le Gavroche, on Lower Sloane Street in London. It became the first restaurant in Britain to win a Michelin star, the first to win two, and the first to win three in 1982. The restaurant became a favourite of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.
In 1984, he and Michel set up the Roux Scholarship to enable up and coming chefs to get a start in the industry. During his time in the kitchen, he trained several other chefs who went on to gain Michelin stars of their own, including Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White, Pierre Koffmann and Marcus Wareing.
Of all his protégées, he no longer gets on with White, saying in an interview in 2010 that, "We don't talk. No, he is a truly talented man – and a man who used to call me his godfather – but he has got a chip on his shoulder". Marco explains the rift in his autobiography but goes on to explain, "Albert employing me was without doubt one of the defining moments of my life. I won't hear a word said against them." Albert speaks highly of Gordon Ramsay, "I recognised straight away that Gordon would go a long way."
Albert had a guest appearance on the BBC television series Chef! starring Lenny Henry on 25 February 1993 (episode 4, "The Big Cheese"), playing himself. The plot involved Albert having lunch at Gareth's Le Chateau Anglais, a remarkable salmon mousse, and several wheels of (illegal) unpasteurised Stilton.
Albert continues to run a series of restaurants around the world, through his company Chez Roux Limited, including one at the Greywalls Hotel in Muirfield, Gullane, and Roux at the Landau, situated in the Langham Hotel as well as Roux at Parliament Square. His Scottish establishments include: Chez Roux at Greywalls, Chez Roux at Rocpool Reserve Hotel, Chez Roux at Inver Lodge Hotel, Chez Roux at the Roxburgh Hotel and Golf Course, Chez Roux at The Atholl in Edinburgh and Chez Roux at Alladale Wilderness Reserve. He no longer chases Michelin stars for his restaurants, but instead seeks to "... recreate the kind of restaurant I remember from my home town, offering good and honest country cooking. The kind of place you can go to eat without ringing the bank for permission."
In a poll of UK chefs carried out by Caterer and Hotelkeeper magazine in 2003, Albert and his brother Michel were voted the most influential chefs in the country. In 2006, he and Michel were jointly given the Lifetime Achievement Award by S.Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants.
Albert has a love of fishing, and has travelled around the world to pursue his hobby, but is particularly fond of Scotland, saying, "For me, the Highlands and islands of Scotland are paradise. I can have whole days where I catch nothing, but I still enjoy every second. I am a lover of nature and fishing allows me access to some of the most beautiful and secluded spots in the world."
Albert met his second wife Cheryl Smith in 2000. Cheryl was born in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Albert and Cheryl were married 16 September 2006. A businesswoman in her own right, she also works alongside Albert in their company Chez Roux Limited. They live in London and Surrey. His son Michel Roux, Jr. now has two Michelin stars of his own, is running Le Gavroche. In April 2014, Albert and Cheryl Roux divorced.
- Walden, Celia (3 April 2010). "Albert Roux interview: My recipe for success? Not going into the priesthood". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 11 May 2010.
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- Thring, Oliver (21 April 2011). "How the Roux family educated the British palate". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 May 2011.
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- Coventry, Laura (8 April 2010). "Legendary French chef Albert Roux reveals his love of the Highlands as he opens new Scots restaurants". The Daily Record. Retrieved 11 May 2011.
- Valentine, Ian (July 2010). "Gone fishin' with Albert Roux". GQ. Archived from the original on 2 January 2011. Retrieved 11 May 2011.
- Wells, Emma (16 September 2007). "Heavenly oast". The Times. Retrieved 11 May 2011.