Michel Roux Jr
Legendary chef Michel Roux Jr was raised in Shipbourne, Kent where his father Albert Roux OBE worked as a private chef for the Cazalet family. Michel Roux Jr’s earliest food memories are the smells of the Fairlawne kitchen – pastry, sugar caramelizing and stews – where he played under the table while his father and mother Monique prepared the meals.
After deciding to follow in his father’s footsteps, he left school at 16 for the first of several challenging apprenticeships at Maître Patissier, Hellegouarche in Paris from 1976 to 1979. He was then Commis de Cuisine at Alain Chapel’s signature restaurant at Mionay near Lyon, which Michel cites as his biggest influence. His military service was spent in the kitchens at the Elysée Palace at the time of Presidents Giscard d’Estaing and François Mitterrand. He also spent time at Boucherie Lamartine and Charcuterie Mothu in Paris, and the Gavers Restaurant in London.
After a stint at the Mandarin Hotel in Hong Kong, he returned to London and worked at La Tante Claire before joining the family business. Michel Roux Jr took over running Le Gavroche from his father in 1991, gradually changing the style of cooking to his own – staying true to the restaurant’s roots of classic French cuisine but with a slightly lighter, more modern twist.
Michel opened Roux at Parliament Square in May 2010 (closed in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic) with Restaurant Associates, part of the Compass Group UK and Ireland, and in November 2010, he opened Roux at The Landau at London’s prestigious luxury hotel, The Langham, London. Michel further strengthened his relationship with The Langham and in 2015 announced that Chez Roux Ltd would operate the hotel’s food and beverage outlets and conference and events banqueting, to include Palm Court and Private Dining by Roux. In 2017, The Langham and Michel launched The Wigmore, a new modern British tavern located on Regent Street, designated as a new social institution with a touch of London polish.
In addition, in association with luxury hoteliers ICMI, Michel oversees four Chez Roux restaurants in Scotland, at Inverlochy Castle, Crossbasket, Cromlix and Greywalls.
His company Chez Roux Ltd also operates hospitality venues at the Jockey Club Festivals and the Wimbledon Championships.
Michel was a judge and presenter on the BBC’s popular prime-time show, MasterChef: The Professionals, from 2008 to 2013, and presented the series Great British Food Revival.
Michel Roux Jr fronted BBC2’s Food and Drink, in 2014 and presented a documentary on Escoffier, whose revolutionary approach to fine cuisine has inspired Michel and many others. In the same year, Michel went on a journey to create the perfect chocolate for the Le Gavroche kitchen. Filmed by the BBC, in Paris he discovered chocolatiers Cacao Barry and their Or Noir Lab.
2015 saw Michel lead the BBC2 programme, Michel Roux’s Service, with Fred Sirieix, in which they set out on a personal mission to train eight young people as front-of-house superstars. Michel’s enthusiasm for the next generation continued to grow in his most recent projects outside of the kitchen. The four-part Channel 4 series in 2015, Kitchen Impossible, explored the hurdles faced by people with disabilities and mental health issues when finding employment. Michel then went on to present a new program on his first ever solo project with the Disney Channel: First Class Chefs, which launched in June 2015. The show followed kids aged 9-11 competing to showcase their restaurant skills.
In Michel’s series, Channel 4’s Hidden Kitchens, broadcast in 2017, he delved deeper into his passion and close, personal relationship with the kitchen, uncovering inspiring and unconventional restaurants throughout the UK. In June of the same year, Channel 4 created a new six-part program presented by Michel called Tried and Tasted: The Ultimate Shopping List. Michel, together with his old friend Fred Sirieix and food critic Jay Rayner, led a panel of food experts tasting supermarket versions of the same foods to decide on ‘The Ultimate Shopping List’.
Michel’s latest TV show, Michel Roux’s French Country Kitchen, premiered in September 2021 exclusively on Food Network, or is available to stream on discovery+. In this visually stunning series, Michel takes us to his spiritual home in the South of France to share a delightful slice of the life he enjoys every time he holidays there. It’s a gorgeous culinary journey through the landscapes of Southern France on a quest to capture the spirit of the food Michel most loves to eat.
In 2013, Michel launched his fifth cookbook, The French Kitchen, focusing on traditional French home cooking. His other books include Cooking with the Master Chef: Food for your family & friends; Le Gavroche Cookbook; The Marathon Chef; Matching Food and Wine; and Michel Roux: A Life In The Kitchen. In 2017, Michel published a new cookbook ‘celebrating the whole beast’ called Les Abats dedicated entirely to offal. In Michel’s most recent cookbook, The French Revolution (published in October 2018), he revisits classic dishes from his traditional French upbringing but takes a modern approach that adapts his favourite recipes to suit the modern home cook, looking for lighter, healthier options.
Always keen to support and develop the hospitality industry, Michel is Co-Chairman of The Roux Scholarship, along with his cousin Alain Roux. The Roux Scholarship is a renowned competition for chefs under 30 who are working in the UK that gives them the opportunity to win a three-month stage at any three-star Michelin restaurant in the world, all expenses paid. Michel is also involved in other educational bodies such as The Savoy Educational Trust: an independent, grant giving charitable trust, whose main aim is to advance and develop education, training and qualifications within the hospitality industry; The College in Bournemouth & Poole; and is the UK Judge of the Prix Culinaire Taittinger.
In 2018 Michel’s daughter Emily Roux, and her husband Diego Ferrari, opened their first restaurant, Caractère, in London’s Notting Hill.
Michel is a keen sportsman and he ran his 21st marathon in 2016 to raise funds for VICTA, a charity supporting visually impaired children, for which Michel has been a long-term Patron. He is also an honorary member of the Harlequin rugby club.