Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Michel and Alain Roux, the Waterside Inn

01 July 2011
Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Michel and Alain Roux, the Waterside Inn

Overall ranking: 18 (ranked 18 in 2010)

Chef ranking: 4 (ranked 5 in 2010)

Michel and Alain Roux - Snapshot

Michel Roux and his brother Albert, who started their culinary legacy in the UK by opening a little-known restaurant called Le Gavroche in London in 1967, are widely considered to be the doyens of modern restaurant food in Britain and are credited with having changed the face of UK dining. For more than four decades, through their multiple Michelin-starred restaurants, cookbooks, television appearances and their Roux Scholarship, they have upped the standard of UK cooking across the board and influenced generations of chefs both inside and outside their many restaurant kitchens.

Alain is Michel's son, and chef-patron of the three-Michelin-starred Waterside Inn in Bray, Berkshire. Leading the brigade in the Waterside's kitchen, he has maintained the standards set by his father and is a Master Pâtissier in the International Association Relais Desserts.

Michel and Alain Roux - Career guide

Born in Charolles, Saône-et-Loire, in 1941, Michel realised his culinary bent at a young age, starting his training in pâtisserie in Paris at 14. After cooking at the British Embassy in Paris he cooked for the Rothschilds and other wealthy families, with a break in between for military service - during which he also cooked at the officers' mess. Michel then followed his elder brother Albert to England, and in 1967 Le Gavroche in London's Lower Sloane Street was born (it moved to Upper Brook Street in 1981). In 1982 it became the first UK restaurant to hold three Michelin stars.

The brothers opened the Waterside Inn in the Berkshire village of Bray in 1972. It gained its third Michelin star in 1985 and in 2010 was awarded three Michelin stars for the 25th consecutive year, becoming the only restaurant outside France to achieve such a distinction.

Over the years the brothers have engaged in many industry enterprises, such as starting a catering service, which was bought by Compass in 1993, becoming Roux Fine Dining - with Albert as a consultant - and opening a number of restaurants and brasseries in London, including Poulbot Pub, Le Gamin, Gavvers, Les Trois Plats and Roux Britannia - which the brothers sold to focus on their consultancy work.

In 1986 the brothers separated their businesses, with Michel taking on the Waterside Inn and Albert retaining Le Gavroche. Michel was made an honorary professor of Thames Valley University in 2006.

He rejoined his father in 1992 at the Waterside Inn as demi-chef de partie and was promoted to joint chef-patron in February 2001. In April 2008 Thames Valley University conferred on him the title of Honorary Fellow of the Faculty of Professional Studies.

Michel and Alain Roux - What we think

Michel and Albert Roux's influence on modern British cooking should not be underestimated. Not only did they manage to launch and maintain a fine-dining restaurant in a country that, at the time, resembled a culinary wasteland, but their training and nurturing of countless young chefs, including industry leaders Pierre Koffmann, Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay, helped shape the next generation of world-class chefs.

In 1984 they set up the Roux Scholarship, in which 50 young chefs compete annually to win three months' experience in a UK or European three-Michelin-starred restaurant of their choice. Roux scholars who have risen up through the ranks include Michelin-starred chefs Andrew Fairlie, Simon Hulstone, André Garrett, Matthew Tomkinson and Sat Bains. In 1999 Alain Roux joined the judging panel and now contributes to the organisation and continuity of this scholarship for young chefs.

The seamless transition from father to son at The Waterside is testament to the unassuming and dedicated manner in which Alain approaches his craft.
Now holding the kitchen reins, there's the sense that Alain is taking the restaurant's food and team forward while still respecting the standards and foundations set out by his father, who remains ever a sparkling ambassador for the restaurant and the wider industry.

Michel and Alain Roux's ranking in the 2010 100 >>

2011 Roux Scholarship >>

Video: the Waterside Inn 25 years of three Michelin stars >>

Albert and Michel Roux celebrate with Silver Catey Award >>

The Waterside Inn website >>

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