Legendary French chef Michel Roux dies age 79 following long battle with ill health

12 March 2020, 13:30

Famous French Chef, Michel Roux, at the Rostbif restaurant, Cremorne.
Famous French Chef, Michel Roux, at the Rostbif restaurant, Cremorne. Picture: Getty

By Tobi Akingbade

Legendary French chef and restaurateur Michel Roux has died at the age of 79 after a long battle with ill health.

The French restaurateur was with his family in Bray, Berkshire, when he passed away.

Roux, who was hailed as the greatest modern champion of British gastronomy, co-founded the UK's first Michelin-starred restaurant Le Gavroche with his brother Albert in 1967.

He had battled with the terminal lung condition in his later years.

A statement from the family, shared on Instagram, reads: “It is with deep sadness that the Roux family announces the passing of our beloved grandfather, father, brother and uncle, Michel Roux OBE.

“The family would like to thank everyone for their support during his illness. While many of you will share our great sense of loss, we request privacy for the family at this difficult time.”

They went on to say: "We are grateful to have shared our lives with this extraordinary man and we’re so proud of all he’s achieved. A humble genius, legendary chef, popular author and charismatic teacher, Michel leaves the world reeling in his wake.

Picture of chef Michel Roux at Four Seasons Hotel, Central. 15OCT12
Picture of chef Michel Roux at Four Seasons Hotel, Central. 15OCT12. Picture: Getty

“For many, he was a father figure inspiring all with his insatiable appetite for life and irresistible enthusiasm. But above all, we will miss his mischievous sense of fun, his huge, bottomless heart and generosity and kindness that knew no bounds. Michel’s star will shine forever lighting the way for a generation of chefs to follow”.

Roux is widely regarded as one of the finest chefs to ever cook in this country. Born in Burgundy in 1941, Roux is best known for opening Le Gavroche in Sloane Square with his brother Albert, in 1967, when he was just 26 (Albert was 32).

The restaurant, which has since moved to Mayfair, remains popular and is looked after by Roux’s nephew, Michel Roux Jr.

The chef retired from his business at the Waterside Inn in 2002, handing over the reins to his son Alain - but refusing to give up food altogether.

The Roux Scholarship Final Gets Underway
The Roux Scholarship Final Gets Underway. Picture: Getty

"A lot of what I do now is a continuation of what my father was working towards and what we worked towards together," Alain told the Caterer in 2010.

"He still comes in and tastes all my dishes to give feedback."

The late Roux was passionate about inspiring young chefs to get into cooking, and founded the Roux Scholarship in 1984 to allow amateurs to compete for three months' experience in a UK or European Michelin-starred restaurant of their choice.

Among those to cook under Roux were Marco Pierre White, Gordon Ramsay and Pierre Koffman; as such, Roux's style quickly came to define much of what fine-dining meant and still means in the country today. Likewise, the Roux Brothers scholarship, established in 1984, is said to have launched the careers of the likes of Mark Birchall, Sat Bains and the late Andrew Fairlie.

Michel Roux is survived by his son, Alain, who still heads up the Waterside Inn.

He was pre-deceased by his second wife, Robyn Roux (nee Joyce), who passed in 2017. The pair had been married for more than 30 years.