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Michel Roux Jr: 'Our family are all pretty good chefs... it can get fiery at times'

A quick read with someone in the public eye

By Oscar Quine

Michel Roux Jr: The 55-year-old Michelin-starred chef on Twitter, midweek boozing and marathons.

You're promoting a whisky but you don't drink in the week, is that right?

I drink in the week very little and very seldom. I purposefully avoid alcohol while at work. It's easy to be tempted and I've seen lots of people fall into that trap. You have a sip, and a sip becomes two sips, which becomes a glass which becomes a bottle. It's a slippery slope.

There's that whole 'sex, drugs and haute cuisine' side of kitchens captured in Anthony Bourdain's 'Kitchen Confidential'. Is it an accurate portrayal?

Absolutely, it was bang on. Not to the point where I could see myself in it, but some of the others maybe. I suppose that book started the image of the rock'n'roll chef, the hellraiser. It's not at all like that any more though, we've moved on.

Your daughter is a chef, as are your father and your uncle. Who's the best cook in the family?

Put it this way, we're all pretty good chefs. And we all have an opinion. It can get fiery at times.

Is there a difference in style?

Yes, of course. Dad is very old school, I'm old school and my daughter is very now. My dad and I are more about the animal fats whereas she's trained in some very trendy, modern places and has a very light touch.

Is celebrity something you've ever actively sought out?

No, definitely not. All television and media work is a product of what I do on a daily basis and that's work in the restaurant. I'm very fussy about what work I do and I'm very wary that I shouldn't become a 'TV chef'. There are many chefs out there who have become just that and no longer run their businesses as chefs. That's not something that I want to do.

What does your dad make of it all?

When my father first started out, he certainly didn't think that it was necessary to employ a PR company. It's all relatively new, this idea of using a PR company to help promote and get the messages out there. And then of course there's also social media ...

Did you find it hard to get into the habit of tweeting?

It's something that I shied away from at first. But then there was somebody on Twitter who was trying to be me. It was quite scary. They were phoning up the restaurant to find out when the menu changes were, what was on special, where I was ... it felt as if it was, not someone who was following me, but maybe someone who knew me. That tipped the balance and I thought, I'll get my blue tick.

You're a marathon runner. Have you ever been tempted by any of those ultra-fitness events?

Not if it involves swimming. The only swimming I do is in the Indian Ocean. I did one ultra marathon - a 100km race in just under 11 hours - which I enjoyed. But my joints have started killing me.

What's the doctor said?

I saw a specialist who said "you shouldn't really be running marathons; they're not that good for you". But I haven't hung up my running shoes just yet.

Any guilty pleasures?

Why would a pleasure be guilty?

Ok, something people might not expect a Michelin-starred chef to eat.

Tinned fruit. Tinned peaches, tinned apricots. Especially the cherries in the tinned fruit salad.

One chef I interviewed answered that question with vanilla ice cream, which I thought summed him up.

That's a question I ask sometimes to break the ice if I have a meeting with someone I don't know. "What's your favourite flavour of ice cream?" It throws people. If somebody replies "vanilla ice cream", it does say a lot about them.

Michel Roux Jr has partnered with The Balvenie whisky on The Craftsmen’s Dinner film series in which he travels the country to find the nation’s finest craftspeople. The film series can be watched on YouTube.

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