All in good taste: Albert Roux and his son Michel Jr at The Landau
The restaurateur and two-star Michelin chef talk family, food and what it's like working together
Since their first venture together 19 years ago when Albert Roux OBE handed over the reigns of Le Gavroche, his two-starred Michelin restaurant in London, to his son Michel Roux Jr, the pair have championed modern restaurant cuisine. They recently opened their second restaurant, The Landau, in collaboration with the Langham Hotel, London with chef Chris King at the helm. Phaidon.com caught up with the duo to talk family, food and what every young chef should know.
Q: The Landau is your second venture together. What’s the dynamic between you like?
Albert Roux: So far so good. Communication is the key.
Michel Roux Jr: We compliment each other as we both strive for perfection and push each other to achieve it.
Q: What’s the most important lesson you’ve each learnt from the other?
AR: The lesson I have learnt is that I do not always agree with what he says, and I know that it is the same for him.
MR Jr: I love my father’s humility and ability to get the best out to everyone.
Q: How has your approach to cooking changed over the years?
AR: My approach to cooking has not changed over the years. I still use a lot of butter and cream, whereas my son Michel prefers the lighter, much healthier approach.
MR Jr: My taste hasn’t changed much over the years nor have my principles. I do and always have prioritised taste and substance over presentation.
Q: Can you comment on your approach to cooking and creating new recipes?
AR: It starts when I go to the market.
MR Jr: I like to use the classics for inspiration.
Q: Which one recipe are you most proud of creating or re-inventing?
AR: Souffle Suissesse.
MR Jr: I am proud of the Artichaut Lucullus on the Le Gavroche menu. This dish is artichoke filled with fois gras terrine, French bean salad and truffles, a classic dish re-visited with a touch of modernism.
__Q: Good food and cooking is a mixture of many things, what elements do you feel underpin good cooking? __
MR Jr: Taste is the most important, but understanding of seasons and nature certainly helps to source ingredients to create a dish of the highest quality flavour.
Q: How has the idea of sustainability become more important in your cooking?
AR: I think of my grandchildren – to leave them something that I have enjoyed.
MR Jr: Sustainability has always been part of our cooking. We were serving Gurnard in the 70s when it was deemed a cat food fish!
Q: Who do you most admire in the world of cooking today?
AR: Paul Bocuse.
Mr Jr: I am surrounded by a family of fantastic chefs, it is difficult to look further than my father and uncle.
Q: What do you wish you’d known when you were starting out?
AR: Things have not changed, I am still learning – it’s great.
MR Jr: I am still learning therefore I feel as if I am always starting out.
Q: What’s your advice for aspiring chefs?
AR: Determination in what you want to do.
MR Jr: Be inquisitive but always respect your elders.
Q: What’s your view of today’s restaurant community and the state of the food industry at large?
AR: Constantly moving forward with some wild ideas which do not last, but quite a lot of good ones that are here to stay.
MR Jr: I find it very encouraging to see new restaurants with very high standards, it's great for our industry.
Q: How do you see the future of cooking?
AR: More relaxed atmosphere in restaurants than it is today.
MR Jr: I think people are getting tired of warm gels, froths and eating chemicals. I see a return to back to basic, skilful cooking.
Albert Roux and Michel Roux Jr, thank you.