Hailing from culinary royalty, Michel Roux Jr is a familiar face on our TV screens. He heads the two Michelin star Le Gavroche, opened 50 years go by his father Albert and uncle Michel, and is passionate about bringing through the next generation of chefs.
Was it an advantage or a disadvantage having a famous father in the same industry? Both, big shoes to fill and he is a legend but there is no denying that I got a head start.
How do you feel about your daughter Emily following in your footsteps? Incredibly proud and happy, although it’s a tough industry and can take its toll she is strong enough to make a success out of it.
Tell us about your ongoing love affair with French cuisine. It’s in my blood and life would be so dull without butter!
How has the Roux Scholarship helped transform the view of British chefs across the globe? The Roux Scholarship has transformed the life of 34 chefs in Great Britain and they have in turn become mentors to many more up and coming chefs.
“True progress can only take place when it is firmly grounded in the past. This is perhaps more true of cooking than it is of any other human activity.” Please can you expand on this? 100% agree you cannot re-invent the wheel but must embrace evolution whilst respecting the values of the classics.
With Le Gavroche celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, what is the secret of its success? Staying true to its roots and consistency are major factors, not forgetting the staff, without them and their loyalty we would not be celebrating such a milestone!
You always seem so calm and collected, on TV at least! How do you keep your stress levels down? Long distance running is a hobby, but sport in general is a good way to relieve any stress. Confidence also comes with maturity….age!
You’re appearing at various BBC Good Food Shows this autumn/winter. What is the lure of live events such as these? I love the interaction with a live audience, they are so passionate.
Tell us about your new pub venture (The Wigmore). How was the process of creating the pub food menu (as opposed to a high-end restaurant menu)? The Wigmore is first and foremost a pub, so great drinks in a comfortable space with cheerful service. The food is pub food, ham and eggs, chips, cheese toastie, scotch eggs but made with all the care and attention of a high end restaurant.
Your new book ‘Les Abats: Recipes celebrating the whole beast’ is out in October. Why are so many people turned off by offal – and how can you persuade them to change their minds? We should eat more offal and hopefully this book will persuade more people to at least try it. It’s cheap, nutritious and tasty. If we take the life of an animal for food then we should eat all of it not just the “choice cuts”.
You’re a staunch campaigner on food waste. What advice can you offer chefs and caterers on this subject? Food waste is criminal, when many people are starving or in difficult times being wasteful is shameful. Not just consumers but manufacturers and supermarkets need to look at this very closely.
And now for three questions that we ask all of our Leading Lights…
What is your kitchen secret? We use seven types of salt in our kitchen, different salts for different recipes and ingredients.
What is your favourite ingredient and why? I love chocolate but it must be bitter and dark. I can eat it by the handful.
Please could you share your favourite recipe?
Braised beef in Burgundian wine
Ingredients • 1 bottle of red Burgundy wine • 700g braising beef (chuck is good but cheek is best) plain flour, for dusting vegetable oil • 1 onion, peeled and sliced • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed • 60ml brandy • 1 bouquet garni, made up of thyme, bay leaf and parsley stalks • 400ml beef or veal stock • 2tbsp cold unsalted butter • Salt • Black pepper Garnish • 3 tbsp unsalted butter • 12 brown-skinned cocktail or button onions (or small shallots), peeled • 12 young carrots, peeled • 120g smoked streaky bacon rashers or ventrèche, cut into thin strips • 12 button mushrooms, wiped juice of ½ lemon
1. Pour the wine into a saucepan and boil until reduced by half. Trim the beef and cut it into 3cm cubes, then dust with flour. Heat a frying pan until very hot, add a dash of oil and brown the beef well on all sides. Do this in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan. Preheat the oven to 160ºC/Fan 140ºC/Gas 3.
2. Once all the beef has been browned and set aside, discard the oil and add a tablespoon of clean oil, the sliced onion and crushed garlic. Cook until the onion is brown and caramelised, then put the meat back in the pan. Add the brandy, followed by the reduced wine, and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
3. Pour everything into a cast-iron casserole dish, then season and add the bouquet garni and stock. Bring to a simmer, skim well to remove any surface scum and cover loosely with a lid or greaseproof paper. Place in the oven and cook until the meat is tender this should take 1 ½-2hours, depending on the cut. Leave to cool, then take the meat out of the dish and set aside. Skim to remove any fat, then pass the liquid through a sieve into a pan. Boil until it thickens to a sauce, then add the meat. Cover and chill until needed.
4. To prepare the garnish, melt a tablespoon of butter in a saucepan and add the onions, seasoning, 2 tablespoons of the sauce from the beef and 4 tablespoons of water. Braise the onions until they are shiny and cooked through. Put the carrot in a pan with just enough water to cover and most of the rest of the butter. Brown the strips of bacon in a frying pan. Sweat the mushrooms in a little butter until cooked but still firm and add seasoning and lemon juice.
5. To serve, gently reheat the boeuf bourguignon on the hob while you prepare the garnish. Add a couple of knobs of cold butter to enrich and shine the sauce, then garnish with the onions, carrots, bacon and mushrooms. Take the dish to the table for everyone to admire, then serve in wide bowls.
Michel Roux Jr will be appearing at the BBC Good Food Show: Belfast, October 20–22