Albert Roux OBE: one of the greats

Albert Roux OBE: one of the greats

by Great British Chefs 6 January 2021

Chef Albert Roux OBE sadly passed away at the age of eighty-five on 4 January 2021. We take a look back on the chef’s illustrious career and how his culinary talents had a profound, lasting impact on the British food scene.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews as well as access to some of Britain’s greatest chefs. Our posts cover everything we are excited about from the latest openings and hottest food trends to brilliant new producers and exclusive chef interviews.

When it comes to culinary legends, few can hold a candle to Albert and Michel Roux – more affectionately known as the Roux Brothers. The pair came to England at a time when the country certainly wasn’t noted for its cuisine – by the 1960s, they’d opened one of the most influential restaurants the nation had ever seen, before going on to inspire, train and celebrate multiple generations of chefs who now make up the UK’s incredible pool of gastronomic talent. Their sons Alain and Michel Roux Jr continue their legacy today, and after Michel’s passing in March 2020, the Roux family sadly announced today that Albert passed away on 4 January 2021, at the age of eighty-five.

Born in 1935, Albert grew up above his father’s charcuterie shop in Burgundy, with initial plans to train as a priest. The clergy’s loss was the culinary world’s gain, however, when he decided to train as a chef instead and landed a job cooking for a British MP at the age of eighteen. After years working in French and British embassies and as a private chef for various members of the British high society, in 1967 he opened Le Gavroche with his brother Michel. The restaurant was the first in the UK to win one, two and – in 1982 – three Michelin stars. The restaurant continues to be a bastion of fine French cuisine to this day, under the expert eye of Albert’s son, Michel Roux Jr.

Alongside Le Gavroche, the brothers also opened The Waterside Inn in Bray, Berkshire in 1972, which has held three Michelin stars since 1985. These two restaurants have not only been responsible for serving some of the finest examples of high-end French cuisine around; they’ve also produced some of the most recognisable chefs in the world. Marco Pierre White, Pierre Koffmann, Gordon Ramsay, Marcus Wareing and of course Michel Roux Jr all earned their stripes in Roux kitchens, proving just how talented and knowledgeable the Roux brothers were when it came to cooking at the very highest level.

As well as opening two world-class restaurants, Albert launched the Roux Scholarship with his brother Michel in the 1980s. Each year, this culinary competition pinpoints the very best up-and-coming chefs, many of which go on to become legends in their own right. Past winners include the likes of Sat Bains, Mark Birchall, Simon Hulstone and Matthew Tomkinson, plus many more who have gone on to earn their own Michelin stars later in their careers.

As the brothers grew older, Albert focused on Le Gavroche, while his brother Michel looked after The Waterside Inn. Their sons eventually took over the reins in later years, but Albert continued to be a key part of the Roux family business, opening restaurants across the UK including several in his beloved Scotland, where he enjoyed spending time fishing and being surrounded by nature.

There are only a handful of chefs in existence who have made such a lasting impression on the world as Albert Roux, and his legacy will continue to influence generations of chefs for years to come. Our thoughts are with the Roux family at this sad time.