Tributes paid to French chef Albert Roux as restaurateur dies aged 85

Tributes paid to French chef Albert Roux as restaurateur dies aged 85


the influentiual chef and restaurateur Albert Roux has died at the age of 85.

 Roux is best known for opening Le Gavroche in 1967, a restaurant which is often credited with changing the way Britons eat. Albert launched the restaurant with his younger Michel, who died last March aged 78. 

A statement from his family said: “The Roux family has announced the sad passing of Albert Roux, OBE, KFO, who had been unwell for a while, at the age 85 on 4th January 2021.

Chef and restaurateur Albert Roux, who brought great French cooking to the UK with his brother Michel, has died at the age of 85.

The pair made gastronomic history in 1982 when their London restaurant, Le Gavroche, became the first in Britain to earn three Michelin stars.

Albert's death comes almost a year after Michel died at the age of 78.

In tribute, chef James Martin described Albert as "a true titan of the food scene in this country".

“Albert is credited, along with his late brother Michel Roux, with starting London’s culinary revolution with the opening of Le Gavroche in 1967.”

While a teenage Roux had intended to become a priest, the church’s loss was cooking gain. His start in kitchens saw him work as a commis de cuisine for Viscountess Astor, the second-ever elected female Member of Parliament, before working in the French Embassy and later serving in the French Armed Forces to complete a year of military service. A stint in the British Embassy followed but it was eight years as a private chef in Kent for Major Peter Cazalet –who himself would later rain racehorses for the Royal family – that changed Roux life, with the family helping Roux finance his first restaurant.

Calling on Michel to leave his post (also as a private chef – for the Rothschilds), the brothers opened Le Gavroche in Sloane Square. Albert was 32, Michel just 26. In 1974, seven years after its first service, Gavroche became the first restaurant in the UK to win a Michelin star, and by 1982, a year after it had moved to its current Mayfair home, was the first in the country to be awarded three. It retained all three for more than a decade. 

Gavroche did not simply bring French cooking to Britain’s attention, but also trained some of the most notable chefs ever to cook here; among those to train in the kitchens are Marco Pierre White, Pierre Koffman, Gordon Ramsay and Monica Galetti. as such, Roux's style quickly came to define much of what fine-dining meant and still means in the country today. Likewise, 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.

Those paying tribute to Albert on Twitter today included Saturday Kitchen chef James Martin, who said he would “raise a glass… in fact the bottle” to the late chef, and the Michelin Guide itself, which dubbed Roux “a father of the UK restaurant industry”.

Meanwhile, Piers Morgan paid tribute to both brothers, saying they had been “touched by genius”. 

The brothers were also among the first chefs to appear on television, with their show At Home with the Roux Brothers appearing in the early eighties. A book of the same name, one of several the brothers wrote together, followed in 1988.

He "inspired and trained some of the best and biggest names in the business", Martin added.

Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White, Marcus Wareing, Pierre Koffman and Monica Galetti are among the chefs who earned their stripes at Le Gavroche.

A family statement said: "The Roux family has announced the sad passing of Albert Roux, OBE, KFO, who had been unwell for a while, at the age 85 on 4th January 2021.

"Albert is credited, along with his late brother Michel Roux, with starting London's culinary revolution with the opening of Le Gavroche in 1967."

His son Michel Roux Jr, who now runs Le Gavroche, said: "He was a mentor for so many people in the hospitality industry, and a real inspiration to budding chefs, including me."

Food critic Jay Rayner described Albert Roux as "an extraordinary man who left a massive mark on the food story of his adopted country".

He added: "The roll call of chefs who went through the kitchens of Le Gavroche alone, is a significant slab of a part of modern UK restaurant culture."