Birthday: 19 April 1941
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The late Michel Roux was born in France on the 19 April 1941 and would go on to become one of the world’s most highly respected chefs. Even as an infant Michel Roux would have his roots firmly founded in a foodie family, having been brought into the world above his grandfather’s charcuterie shop and having grown up alongside his equally as revered brother – Albert roux.
It was while his sibling Albert was already working as a professional patissier that Michel Roux decided to follow in his footsteps. At just fourteen he became an apprentice pastry chef and following his success would go on to work for the British Embassy in Paris and then for the Rothschild family.
Again being led by his brother, Michel Roux decided to cross the channel to London to join his sibling in the UK. The duo opened their first restaurant Le Gavroche on Lower Sloane Street in 1967 to national acclaim (which would later move to a new spot in Mayfair in 1982). So infamous were the pair by then that they drew celebrities like Charlie Chaplin to their opening party. Five years later, after much success with their first foray, in 1972 the pair opened their second premises – the Waterside Inn, in Bray.
When Michelin stars were first introduced in the UK both Michel and Albert Roux’s restaurants were awarded one each. Subsequently they would both go on to win two and then three Michelin stars at each property (although Le Gavroche has since gone back to two stars). In 2010 the Waterside Inn was the first restaurant outside of France to hold the accolade of three Michelin stars for 25 years.
One of Michel Roux’s most notable achievements during his life was setting up the Roux Brother Scholarship which fostered emerging talent in the hospitality industry. The winner of the annual competition is awarded an apprenticeship with the Roux Brothers. Previous winners include top chefs like Michelin starred Sat Bains and Andrew Fairlie who ran the highly acclaimed restaurant at top Scottish hotel Gleneagles (which still holds his name).
Following a fallout with his brother, Michel Roux and his sibling decided to break up their empire. In 1986 Michel would run the Waterside Inn on a solo basis, while Albert headed up Le Gavroche.
Having won numerous awards and accolades throughout his life, Michel was named as the most influential chef in the country by a poll run by Caterer and Hotelkeeper magazine in 2003. He was a member of several orders in France and held an honorary position of Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the UK. Having trained many of the country’s top chefs – including Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White and Pierre Koffman – Michel’s legacy lives on.
In his personal life Michel shared three children with his first wife Françoise Becquet; Christine, Francine and Alain. In 1984 he would remarry his second partner Robyn Joyce, who died in 2017. Michel died on the 11 March 2020 in Bray, aged 78.