Chef and restaurateur Albert Roux dies aged 85

Roux founded Le Gavroche in London with his younger brother Michel in 1967.
Roux founded Le Gavroche in London with his younger brother Michel in 1967.

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

The French-born founder of the Michelin-starred Le Gavroche and part of the Roux culinary dynasty died on January 4 after a lengthy illness.

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.

Albert Roux death
Albert (left) and Michel Roux (Johnny Green/PA)

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

“The Roux family have requested that their privacy at this time be respected.”

Alongside his younger brother Michel, Roux founded Le Gavroche in London in 1967, followed by The Waterside Inn in Bray in 1972.

Le Gavroche, known for its classic take on French cuisine, was the first restaurant in the UK to gain one, then two, and then three Michelin stars.

Albert’s death comes nine months after that of his brother, aged 78, following a long battle with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Born in the region of Saone et Loire in France on October 8 1935, Roux began training as an apprentice patissier aged 14 before taking up a number of kitchen posts.

Fortnum & Mason Food and Drink Awards – London
Michel Roux Jr (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

After serving in the military in Algeria, Roux worked as sous chef at the British Embassy in Paris, where he spent two years before leaving for the UK.

In April 1967, Albert and Michel opened Le Gavroche in Chelsea with only £3,000, borrowing the rest of the funds.

He was also known for the Roux Scholarship, an annual chef competition founded in 1982 with Michel, to enable a new generation of chefs in the UK to train in some of the greatest restaurants in the world.

In 1988, Albert’s son Michel Roux Jr joined Le Gavroche and over a period of years took over the day-to-day management of the restaurant. He is now the chef/patron.

Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White, Pierre Koffmann and Marcus Wareing all passed through the La Gavroche kitchen during this period.

Outside of the kitchen, Roux was a keen fisherman and enjoyed trips to the Scottish Highlands.

The Rouxs continue to run a small group of Chez Roux restaurants in a number of hotels in the region.

He was married three times with his final wedding, to Maria, taking place in 2018.

TV chef and MasterChef: The Professionals star Michel Jr paid tribute.

He 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 tweeted: “Albert Roux was an extraordinary man, who left a massive mark on the food story of his adopted country.

“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. RIP.”

Chef James Martin said: “Such a sad start to the year… Albert Roux was a true titan of the food scene in this country and inspired and trained some of the best and biggest names in the business.

“RIP and today I will open a bottle of the finest red and raise a glass… in fact the bottle to you and your brother and say thank you for everything. My thoughts to all the Roux family and friends.”

Piers Morgan wrote: “RIP Albert Roux, 85, just 9 months after the death of his brother Michel.

“Two culinary titans who revolutionised the UK restaurant scene & mentored so many more great chefs.

“Both wonderful characters, touched by genius, who brought pleasure to many palates. Thank you.”