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Scottish chefs pay tribute to ‘culinary great’ Albert Roux who developed an ‘army’ of talent

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The passing of the French chef aged 85 has led to an outpouring of praise and gratitude from those he influenced during his illustrious career.

Together with his brother Michel, Albert Roux was credited with revolutionising London’s dining scene when they opened Le Gavroche in 1967.

It was the first restaurant in the UK to gain the hugely coveted three Michelin stars, instantly earning the brothers iconic status in the culinary world.

But Albert’s influence was felt in Scotland too, where he owned six restaurants in Scottish hotels, including Cromlix in Perthshire, owned by Andy Murray, Inverlochy Castle in Fort William, and Rocpool Reserve in Inverness.

And beyond the excellence he served diners, Albert Roux was equally admired within the industry for his work in helping to develop new talent.

Michelin chefs (from left) Michel Roux, Albert Roux and Alain Roux, Gary Rhodes, Brian Turner, Andrew Fairlie, Martin Hadden, David Nicholls, Steve Drake, Andre Garrett, Sat Bains and Gleneagles’ executive chef Andrew Hamer.

Together with Michel, he founded the Roux Scholarship, with the late Scottish chef Andrew Fairlie, the very first winner in 1984.

As part of his Roux Scholarship prize, Fairlie, who died of a brain tumour in 2019, spent three months working under three-Michelin-starred chef Michel Guérard at Les Prés d’Eugénie in Gascony, France. He later went on to become head chef at the eponymous Restaurant Andrew Fairlie in Gleneagles which was awarded two Michelin stars, a source of great pride for Albert and Michel Roux with whom Fairlie was said to be very close.

Leading Scottish chef, Tom Kitchin, who owns The Kitchin in Edinburgh and who became the youngest chef to be awarded his first Michelin star at the age of 29, paid tribute on Twitter, praising Albert Roux as having infuenced an ‘army of chefs’ and sharing a picture of the two together.

In 2015, Roux delighted pupils at Charleston Academy in Inverness when he visited to open the Albert Roux kitchen there as part of his Adopt a School programme which he started in 2011. Through the scheme he mentored secondary school pupils and brought many through into the industry.

Former pupils from Charleston have gone on to work in Roux’s own Le Gavroche, as well as Greywalls near Edinburgh.

Albert Roux with pupils, Leah Keiro (left) and Chloe Fraser at Charleston Academy in 2015.

An inspiration to chefs across the country, it was his passion and drive to educate the younger generation that Graham Mitchell, head chef of the Newmachar Hotel in Aberdeenshire, said was one of Albert’s best traits.

Paying tribute to the chef, Graham added: “He was the Scottish Chef Association patron and any time we hosted fundraisers he would always come up to Scotland for them. He was always the star attraction and would pull more guests to want to attend the fundraisers.

“He was really down to earth and was very passionate about Scotland and our larder and the produce we have.

“I got to cook for him. When I won the Surf and Turf Chef of the Year, my prize was to cook at the Scottish Chef’s Conference and cook my main course. He used to come up to Scotland every year for the conference, so I have cooked for him there, and at Scotland Culinary Team dinners which he used to visit for as well. I still remember the main course I served; it was pan seared lamb rump, pea puree with peas a la francaise, pomme gastronomique potatoes with crispy lamb sweetbread and Jimmy Buchan’s langoustine.

“Him and his brother, who has sadly passed away as well, revolutionised the whole culinary industry in Britain. If you read their books they used to smuggle truffles into the UK, brie and unpasteurised cheese, too, in the 70s.

“He used to judge the Young Highland Chef of the Year competition every year. He has the Chez Roux establishments in Inverness and Fort William so he was always up in the Highlands.”

Chef-Owner of Tor Na Coille in Banchory and the Kildrummy Inn in Alford, Aberdeenshire, David Littlewood was also among those who paid tribute.

He said: “I knew Albert relatively well. He was the patron of the Scottish Chefs Association and The Federation of Chefs Scotland when I was president from 2016-2019.

Chef David Littlewood and Albert Roux at the Scottish Chef of The Year Competition in 2013. 

“It’s very sad – he was an incredibly inspirational person. He’s one of these people who didn’t say an awful lot but when he did you listened intently to him and when you had a conversation, he would listen intently to you. He wasn’t a very big person but commanded a huge amount of respect and a large presence in every room he entered.

“Personally, he was a huge inspiration. I first met him in 2013 when he was judging the Scottish Chef of the Year competition and I won it that year. After that I would meet up with him once or twice a year for dinner or in his role as a supporter of the Scottish Chefs Conference, which was run but the Federation of Chefs Scotland.

“It’s just a very sad day for the industry but he has certainly left a legacy that will outlive any of us.”