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Michel Roux Jr on the Roux Christmas, a top turkey tip and missing MasterChef

by Carol Muskoron
Michel Roux Jr interview and recipes - celebrity chef recipes and Christmas tips - food and UK recipes -

Q: Christmas is coming up, can I ask what the Roux’s do at Christmas? Do you all get together? Who cooks?
A: No, we don’t get together unfortunately because we’re all so busy with our own families it’s hard to get us around the same table. It is a rare occasion to get us all together but when it does happen you can imagine it’s interesting because we’ve all got a view! I mean this Christmas for instance there will be my daughter Emily (who is a chef) and my father as well so it’ll be fun and we’ll all muck in.

Q: This is a tough question: bearing in mind the success of your dad (Albert Roux), your uncle (Michel Roux Sr) and your cousin Alain Roux (Michel Roux Snr’s son who runs the Waterside Inn in Berkshire), who do you think is the best cook in the Roux family? We asked your dad once and he thought it was Emily…
 (Laughs.) I’m not going to disagree with my dad am I? But my immediate thought would be that my daughter is the best chef of us all. 

Q: What’s your top tip for making Christmas go well?
A: Well, I always think that you should choose a small turkey. The smaller the turkey the better. People look at a turkey and they think, 'there will never before enough' but actually there’s a lot of meat on a turkey and you’ve got trimmings too – bacon and chipolatas and loads of vegetables. All of that’s quite filling so you really do not need a maga big turkey because leftover turkey's alright on Boxing Day but three of four days later? And of course, the problem with an extra large turkey is that it’s probably a male turkey, a cock turkey, so it’s going to be tough and dry and need more cooking. The smaller the turkey the better.

Michel Roux Jnr's duck with saute potatoes
Albert Roux's mussels recipe
Michel Roux Snr's festive party flan

Q: So can you ask for a female turkey when you buy one? Will it be obvious?
A: No it won’t be obvious because most turkeys are sold without the feet and head and ready to roast but you’ve got more chance of getting a hen turkey if you get a small one. Small is sweeter and more juicy. If I have a load of people coming round for Christmas I would rather cook two small turkeys than one mega big one.

Q: Your middle name is Albert – are your family deliberately trying to confuse people, or is it a cultural French phenomenon to keep names in the family – again and again!
A: (Laughs again). The deal was that my father and uncle agreed that the first of them to have son would call that son after his brother. I was born first and I carry the name of my uncle (Michel Roux Sr). My uncle did not follow this and his first son is called Alain - the reason being was that he said ‘Albert is an old-fashioned name and I’m not calling my son Albert.' But Alain’s second name, I think, is Henri and my father’s second name is Henri so that was the trade off for my uncle not calling Alain ‘Albert’! It is quite confusing and that’s why about 20 years ago I tagged 'Jr' onto my name because people were getting confused between the two Michel Rouxs! I wasn’t christened 'Jr'.

Q: We know that Michel Roux Snr had cancer not long ago. How is he?
A: He’s fine. Fighting fit at the moment. He’s been given the all clear.

Q: And how is your Dad after his widely publicised affair? Does he confide in you? Is he full of regret?
A: You would have to ask him that, but all I can say is that he is also in fine form.

Q: Was there ever a possibility of you being anything other than a chef?
A: Ooh no, absolutely no possibility whatsoever.

Q: What’s your favourite recipe of the moment?
A: Well all true chefs love the seasons - seasonality is something that really excites us - and this time of the year it’s suddenly got cold! Thankfully! We’ve been yearning for the cold weather so that we can make wonderful heart-warming soups and long slow-cook recipes. I love all kinds of soups. Pumpkin comes to mind immediately. In France soups are a meal – you have a big bowl of soup with maybe some garnish on top and some bread or croutons or cheese or cream or olive oil. When it’s freezing outside you can’t go wrong with a big bowl of soup!

Q: Do you speak French?
A: Yes, absolutely.

Q: Are you totally bilingual?
A: Yes!

Q: What’s your favourite restaurant, apart from your restaurant Le Gavroche?
A: Oh, that’s too difficult to answer!

Q: There must be one that you love the most? One that you go to again and again…
A: Well, I live in south London and one of my local restaurants is a small place that’s really fantastic and that’s The Dairy. It’s a family-run business, husband and wife team. If everybody had a local restaurant like that, that would be amazing!

Q: You’ve got 45,000 followers on – is that really you Tweeting.
A: Yes it is. For many years I didn’t want to join the Twitterati and what persuaded me was that there was someone Tweeting as me and following me almost like a stalker and that annoyed me immensely so I decided that the best way to combat it was to Tweet myself. 

Q: You recently had to leave MasterChef: The Professionals because of a falling out of with the BBC over Albert Bartlett potatoes, which you endorse and which the BBC was uncomfortable with. Do you miss MasterChef: The Professionals?
A: I miss the mentoring and tasting food that young chefs have cooked for me. Yes, most definitely.

Q: And are Albert Bartlett potatoes really that good?
A: They’re probably the best potato that comes out of the earth! Have you not tried them? My God! What are you waiting for?! I would never endorse anything that I don’t use and believe in. The Global Knives and the Green Pans which I endorse -  I believe in them all hand on heart. I would never dream of taking a quick buck just for the sake of it.

Q: If a bio pic was made about your life, who do you think might play you? Jude Law? Daniel Craig?
A: (Laughs yet again.) No. Robert Downey Jr. Many people say that I look like him!

Michel Roux Jr is appearing at Taste of London Winter between 20-23 November 2014.

How Michel Roux Jr came to fame
How Michel Roux Sr came to fame
Albert Roux on losing his virginity!


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