Michel Roux reveals he never wanted to be a celebrity chef

Michel Roux has said he never intended to become a celebrity chef and used to avoid TV work at the start of his career.

The Masterchef: The Professionals judge, 78, gained notoriety after he took over his father Albert’s Mayfair restaurant, Le Gavroche, in 1993. The establishment closed in January this year.

Roux said his celebrity status was an “inevitable consequence” of his restaurant’s popularity.

Writing in The Times, Roux said working at Le Gavroche – which had two Michelin stars –  “made me famous” but this was “never planned” as part of his career progression.

“I actually consciously stepped back from television work because I feared I was being overexposed,” he said. “I did not want to be a celebrity chef.”

Roux has appeared as a judge on BBC Two’s MasterChef: The Professionals for five series. He also hosted his own show Michel Roux’s Service, in which he trained a group of young people with no hospitality experience to become gold standard waiters and sommeliers.

As well as being part of the judging panel on MasterChef: The Professionals in the UK, Roux has appeared as a guest chef on MasterChef Australia. He has also featured on Gordon Ramsay’s show Hell’s Kitchen, and presented multiple series of Michel Roux’s French Country Cooking.

Michel Roux Jr on his TV show ‘Michel Roux’s French Country Cooking’
Michel Roux Jr on his TV show ‘Michel Roux’s French Country Cooking’ (Food Network/PA)

When asked whether he enjoyed watching other chefs on television, Roux admitted he didn’t think celebrity chefs were a “true reflection of themselves”.

“Being on television was taking me in a direction I didn’t want to go in,” he added. “I just love to cook…I love the fact that I can make people happy through what I do.”

Roux announced he was closing Le Gavroche in January so he could spend “more time with his family”.

The chef, 63, said he had “very mixed emotions” about the decision to close, but that the restaurant’s name would “live on”.

Michel Roux in the doorway of Le Gavroche
Michel Roux in the doorway of Le Gavroche (Jodi Hinds/Christie’s Images Ltd/PA)

“This decision has not been made lightly,” Roux wrote. “Le Gavroche means so much, not just to myself and the Roux family, but to the wider Gavroche team and you, our guests, who have become our family over so many years.

“I have always felt that should Le Gavroche ever close, it must be on a high. Le Gavroche continues to be fully booked, week in, week out, but I have known for a while that I must make time for a better work/life balance, so I can spend more time with my family and on my other business ventures.”

He went on to say that the announcement was “not the end of Le Gavroche”, and that the name would “live on” after the closure of the eatery.

“I could not be more grateful for the restaurant team, who have loved the restaurant as if it were their own,” he added. “The entire team both past and present, will forever have my gratitude, and will always be considered as part of the Roux family.”

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