Michel Roux Jr.: “Every man should know how to cook”

The Michelin-starred chef on the three dishes everyone should know how to make

If you know anything about fine dining, you’ll know Michel Roux Jr. English born, trained in France and always destined to be one of the world’s finest chefs, Michel doesn’t exactly do things by halves.

His career started out in some of France’s most highly regarded eateries, before he moved halfway across the world to Hong Kong to cook at the famous Mandarin Oriental hotel. In 1991 he took over from his father at Le Gavroche, the two-Michelin Star family-run restaurant in London where he and his daughter still cook today. He also owns Roux in Parliament Square and its sister restaurant, Roux at the Landau, in the prestigious Langham hotel.

When did your interest in cooking start?

I was very fortunate to have been born into a family where there was always great food and great produce around, because my mother and father were obviously great cooks. So I think I had a bit of a head start in comparison to most. I always knew that cooking was what I would go into. There was no question – it wasn’t forced upon me, it’s just something that I’ve always wanted to do.

Do you think it's important for every man to have an interest in cooking?

I think it’s vital to be able to do the basics in cooking, to know where your food comes from and to have a genuine interest. And, thankfully, I think it’s the case that more and more people are. It’s a great skill to acquire, without being a qualified chef. It’s a great feather in one’s hat to be able to rustle up a really tasty meal. Cooking is a great skill that should be showed off and can be quite impressive if you can replicate a restaurant-standard meal.

What are three go-to dishes that everyone should know how to cook?

First of all, I think a good homely dish – something like a good shepherd’s pie – would definitely be on my list. And then something really impressive and sweet, like a raspberry soufflé, which is rather tricky and does take time to master, but it’s mightily impressive if you get it right. And then I think something exotic and Asian – so mastering the art of sushi and sashimi as well. If someone can master those three, I think they’ve made it.

What makes a successful chef?

Presentation is very important. It gives you the chance to show off your artistic skills. But then also little things like seasonality, for example, knowing you shouldn’t really be serving asparagus at Christmas, is important. Knowing and appreciating that healthy doesn’t necessarily mean boring, that you can make healthy food interesting, is also beneficial.

What’s your one golden rule in the kitchen?

Sharp knives. I think sharp knives are vital – a blunt knife is a dangerous knife. Get yourself a good set and look after them. I use Global knives – Japanese knives – and they are exceptional. I look after them, they don’t go in the dishwasher, I keep them religiously sharp and take them with me everywhere.

Want to test your skills? Here’s how to cook the perfect fish pie, according to Richard Corrigan…

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