Tributes paid to 'father of the UK restaurant scene' Albert Roux

06 January 2021 by
Tributes paid to 'father of the UK restaurant scene' Albert Roux

The hospitality industry has been paying tribute to the ‘father of the UK restaurant scene' Albert Roux, who has died at the age of 85.

The chef, restaurateur and author was one of the most influential figures in the culinary world and a mentor for many young chefs.

The Roux Scholarship, the competition Albert founded with his brother Michel in 1983, said that his legacy will "live on in the thousands of chefs he inspired and trained".

Brian Turner, chef and president of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts (RACA), told The Caterer: "Sadly, the wise old man of cooking in this country has left us. Albert was someone to whom we could turn, who always had an opinion and often gave it, even if we didn't want it!

"Albert, along with his brother Michel changed the direction of cooking, wining and dining in the hospitality industry to the great benefit of chefs and restaurateurs worldwide. He will be sorely missed by so many. I loved him as a good friend and I will miss you chef, especially at the card table. Love to all, rest in peace my friend."

Albert and Michel Snr
Albert and Michel Snr

Chef Pierre Koffmann described Albert as "a force and a legend", adding: "He was one of the finest restaurateurs and that was the greatest gift he gave to me."

Chef-restaurateur Anton Mosimann said: "I, like many others, have fond memories of Albert, but one that particularly springs to mind is our conversation when I was considering starting my own business. The advice he gave me was invaluable and I will always be grateful for his wise words and support.

"The name Roux is iconic within the industry and we have all lost a well-respected, true professional. Albert's tireless work for the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts is to be admired and applauded. He was a mentor to countless chefs and an inspiration to students and those just starting their careers.

"He leaves behind a tremendous legacy and a grateful hospitality industry."

Albert was one of the founders of RACA in 1980 and championed its apprenticeships, awards and Adopt a School programme, which delivers food education in schools nationwide.

Sara Jayne Stanes, chief executive of RACA, said he was ‘passionate' about the scheme and until recently made it his ‘personal quest' to make frequent visits to primary schools.

She said: "He had an undeniable presence. He knew ‘everyone' from parliamentarians to high society to leading industry celebrities to sportsmen and women – especially in the world of horse racing - to chefs, waiters and kitchen porters. He will always be recognised for breaking the culinary taboos of British habits in the Sixties with his brother Michel."

John Williams MBE, executive chef at The Ritz London and chairman of RACA, added: "He was a true gentleman and one of the most inspirational chefs. When he touched you it went through your soul. When he spoke you listened! The Boss."

Mark Birchall, chef-patron at Moor Hall in Lancashire and the 2011 Roux Scholar, described Albert as a ‘legend'.

He said: "My first real encounter with Albert was when I was in the Roux Scholarship final the first time, he came up behind me and gave me a slap around the back of the head to try and spur me on. I didn't win that year but I was close. He was always very encouraging throughout.

"The Roux family have been inspirational since they arrived in the UK. Albert's legacy will live on, and it's up to us Roux Scholars to make sure that happens as well."

André Garrett, executive chef at the Corinthia London hotel and winner of the Roux Scholarship in 2002, said: "A very sad day indeed. I will remember fondly entering the Roux scholarship and seeing Albert and being in awe. As a chef he was exacting and driven, but as a mentor he was kind and always had time. His legacy and what he did along with Michel Snr for our culinary world and chefs will live on for a long time. My thoughts are with his family now. Much love chef and the greatest respect."

Albert and Michel won the Craft Guild of Chefs Special Award in 2005, recognising their lifetime of achievement. Andrew Green, chief executive of the Craft Guild, remembers Albert giving "a great speech encouraging young chefs to follow their dreams and work hard to achieve all that they could".

"He was a larger than life chef, who many of us in our early years aspired to be like," he said.

Diego Masciaga, who worked front of house for the Roux family for more than 30 years, said it was a "sad, sad day" and described him as a "true master".

He said: "For me he was a great mentor and inspiration, and for many, many others as well. He was also an advocate not only for food and the kitchen but for front of house. He will be missed so much by many, and not only people in hospitality, but the general public."

Matt Owens, chair of the Craft Guild of Chefs, added: "Albert Roux was the driving force behind an extraordinary culinary movement, while being an outstanding mentor to many of the industry's big names. The impact of his approach, skills and innovation is immeasurable. He will be deeply missed."

Albert Roux in the kitchen garden at Cromlix hotel, Perthshire
Albert Roux in the kitchen garden at Cromlix hotel, Perthshire

Steve Groves, who was head chef at the Roux at Parliament Square restaurant in London, said: "[Albert] was an inspiration to so many and led the way for chefs in this country to make an incredible dining scene. I was always proud to work in a Roux restaurants and having the guidance and feedback of such a great I feel very fortunate."

Christopher Moore, chief executive of the Clink Charity, of which Albert was a patron, described him as "a true inspiration to so many including our students in training".

He said: "Albert was a great supporter of our work in reducing reoffending and had been our ambassador since 2013 He would come into prison (whilst leaving his dog Cantalope outside) and talk to the men in training at HMP High Down and HMP Brixton encouraging them and giving them hope for their future within the hospitality industry. He had a special way of communicating with everyone ensuring that there was lots of laughter. He will be greatly missed."

Chef James Martin tweeted that Albert was "a true titan of the food scene", who had "inspired and trained some of the best and biggest names in the business", adding: "RIP and today I will open a bottle of the finest red and raise a glass".

Albert Roux at Roxburghe Hotel & Golf Course, Kelso
Albert Roux at Roxburghe Hotel & Golf Course, Kelso

The Michelin Guide also paid tribute, tweeting: "Albert Roux OBE, along with his late brother Michel, was a father of the UK restaurant industry and his legacy will live on through the many chefs who passed through his kitchen. All of us at the Michelin Guide send our heartfelt condolences to the Roux family."

The Observer restaurant critic Jay Rayner described Albert as an "extraordinary man, who left a massive mark on the food story of his adopted country".

He added: "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."

Albert, Emily and Michel Roux Jr at Crossbasket Castle, Glasgow
Albert, Emily and Michel Roux Jr at Crossbasket Castle, Glasgow

Chef Paul Askew of Liverpool's Art School restaurant tweeted: "Devastated to hear the news of the passing of this absolute legend and the reason I became a chef. What an inspiration and rock of our industry. Rest in peace and thank you for all you have done."

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