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March 22, 2013 6:36 pm
Michel Roux Jr, 52, is chef-patron of the two-starred Michelin restaurant Le Gavroche, London.
. . .
What was your earliest ambition?
I’ve always wanted to be a chef. I never thought of anything else.
Public school or state school? University or straight into work?
I’ve done it all: a comprehensive in Tooting, private education in Putney and finally a grammar school in Battersea. I left at 16 and went to Paris for a proper two-year apprenticeship in a pastry shop.
Who was or still is your mentor?
My apprenticeship boss was a leader, not from shouting and screaming, but because he was there first in the morning and was the last to leave at night. It would be remiss of me not to mention my father [Albert Roux] and uncle [Michel Roux], pioneers of gastronomy in this country.
How physically fit are you?
I’ve run 18 marathons to date, including one ultra-marathon.
Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?
Ambition, definitely. With ambition you can knock down walls.
Have you ever taken an IQ test?
Not that I know of. I’m not really interested, I don’t want to know.
How politically committed are you?
I think we should vote. If you don’t vote, you can’t complain or whinge if things aren’t going your way.
Do you consider your carbon footprint?
I recycle, I’m a fervent believer in biodynamic farming and I drive a hybrid car. But I love travelling and I belong to a supercar club.
Do you have more than one home?
A flat in London and a house in the south of France.
What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?
I’m not really a materialistic person – I can’t think of a tangible thing that I want to own.
What’s your biggest extravagance?
Time with my wife and my daughter, because I spend so little time at home. Any time we have with just the three of us is magical. That’s something money can’t buy.
In what place are you happiest?
My house in France with close friends and family.
What ambitions do you still have?
Heaps. I want to write another book. Do I want to open more restaurants? Probably not … but if the opportunity arises, I’ve got loads of ideas. Teaching is another great passion of mine, trying to bring more kids into the business and show them the pleasure of working in our industry.
What drives you on?
I can’t wait to get to work. I love what I do!
What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
My daughter – she’s an amazing girl. We had a lot of problems conceiving, which makes her even more special. She’s everything a father could wish for.
A pair of running shoes.
A bar of chocolate – proper chocolate, at least 70 per cent cocoa solids. My two girls: my wife and daughter. And a chef’s hat somewhere – maybe instead of a shield?
What has been your greatest disappointment?
I don’t dwell on them.
If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would he think?
He’d think “My God, you’re still alive!” – when I was 20, I was living at 100mph. He’d be pleased with what I’ve achieved so far.
If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?
As long as I had my family, a patch of land, something to eat, I’d be happy.
Do you believe in assisted suicide?
Yes. There have been some very high-profile, sad cases. Everyone should put themselves in that place and think what they would want – although it has to be regulated.
Do you believe in an afterlife?
No. I think we have to enjoy life while we’re here.
If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?
I couldn’t give myself a 10 – I’m always seeking to do better. But I’m happy with my lot … I’ll give myself an eight.
Michel Roux Jr is hosting a number of cooking experiences at Cactus Kitchens. To book, visit www.cactuskitchens.co.uk
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