French chef Albert Roux, credited with transforming English food, dies at the age of 85

Albert Roux, the French-born chef and restaurateur who, along with his late brother Michel, had a profound influence on British eating habits, died at the age of 85.

Roux died Monday after being ill for a while, his family said in a statement Wednesday. The family did not reveal the location or cause of death.

In 1982, the brothers’ restaurant Le Gavroche became the first British restaurant to be awarded three Michelin stars. It was visited by a loyal clientele that included many of the icons for Swinging Sixties. The brothers took turns in the kitchen and dining room, trying to “achieve a global reputation for service and the quality of their food.”

Over the years, well-known chefs such as Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White and Marcus Wareing trained at the restaurant, which serves French cuisine in the well-known Mayfair area.

Although it lost one star in 1993, Le Gavroche, now run by Albert’s son Michel Jr., is still considered one of London’s most sought after eateries and its resumption after the coronavirus pandemic is expected by many.

“(My father was) a mentor to so many people in the hospitality industry, and a real inspiration to budding chefs, including me,” says Michel Roux Jr.

Such a sad start to the year … Albert Roux was a real titan of the food scene in this country and inspired and educated some of the best and biggest names in the industry. RIP and today I open a bottle of the finest red and lift up a glass … actually the bottle for you and pic.twitter.com/Ph1Vs3ZWQx

– James Martin (@jamesmartinchef) January 6, 2021

Broaden culinary horizons

Albert Roux was born in 1935 in the village of Semur-en-Brionnais in the central French region of Burgundy. After World War II, the family moved to Paris to run a new piece of meat and it was in the French capital where both brothers really forged their passion for cooking.

At 2 pm, Albert became a pastry chef with an apprentice and four years later he moved to England where he soon got a job at the French embassy. Following his military service in Algeria, Albert Roux became Deputy Chief of Staff at the British Embassy in Paris.

When he returned to the UK with his brother in 1967, they brought their classic skills, especially in pastries, to an old-fashioned and tranquil restaurant scene. The legendary La Gavroche was created, appealing to those who wanted to broaden their culinary horizons.

In addition to Le Gavroche, the brothers also opened a series of successful restaurants. Then, in 1972, they stumbled upon the Waterside Inn, a very old pub in Bray-on-Thames, west of London, which they turned into their flagship restaurant outside the capital.

In 1985, the Waterside Inn received its third Michelin star. It is the only restaurant in the world, outside of France, that has retained three stars since then.

The brothers separated their business interests in 1986, where Albert chose Le Gavroche while Michel took control of The Waterside Inn.

In 2002, the Order of the British Empire brothers were honored by Queen Elizabeth II for their contributions to the field.

The Michelin guide tweeted that Albert Roux, along with his deceased brother who died last year 78, “was a father to the British restaurant industry and his legacy will live on through the many chefs who passed through his kitchen.”

The Roux Scholarship, a cooking competition for future chefs started by the brothers and now run by their sons Alain Roux and Michel Roux Jr., says that Albert Roux’s legacy “will live on in the thousands of chefs he inspired and trained. ”

The animal rights organization PETA also praised Albert Roux for his public opposition to foie gras.

“He famously said that, just like cigarettes, there should be a warning about the terrible suffering of ducks and geese being abused for their production,” the group said on Twitter. “We will never forget him.”

(AP)