Little Bits of History

What’s For Dinner?

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 8, 2015
Albert Roux*

Albert Roux*

October 8, 1935: Albert Roux is born in Charolles, France. His father was a charcuterie, a chef specializing in meats. As Albert finished school at age 14, he entered into the seminary to study to become a priest. He found the life did not suit him and left. He began to train as a chef. His godfather worked for Wallis, Duchess of Windsor and arranged for his then 18-year-old nephew to work for Nancy Astor, Viscountess. For most of his stay with the Astors, all was well. There was one incident when he was sending oeufes en cocotte to the Prime Minister dining there. Harold Macmillan’s eggs were jammed in the dumbwaiter which caused a bit of a problem.

He went on to the French embassy in London and cooked there until World War II interrupted. He was called up by the French Armed Forces and served in Algiers as a cook. After he left the military, he became the sous chef at the British Embassy in Paris. He left there to become the private chef of Major Peter Cazalet back in the UK, a position he held for eight years. In 1967, he and his younger brother opened Le Gavroche in London. It became the first British restaurant to win a Michelin star. It was also the first restaurant in Britain to earn a second star. And it was the first British restaurant to receive a third star, their highest rating. The restaurant was often visited by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

The Michelin guide was established in 1900 in France at a time when there were only 3,000 cars in the entire country. It was hoped that a guide to where to find fine dining and hotels as well as reliable mechanics and gas stations would boost the sales of cars – users of the Michelin tires. The first British edition came out in 1911. In 1936, the criteria for the coveted stars was finally listed. One star meant it was “a very good restaurant in its category” while two stars indicated “excellent cooking, worth a detour”. The third star was awarded for “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey”.

In 1984 the Roux brothers set up the Roux Scholarship which was used to help up and coming chefs get a start. Their more famous protégés (as well as Michelin star winners in their own rights) have included Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White, Pierre Koffmann and Marcus Wareing. Today, Albert is 79 years old and still in the restaurant business. He runs several establishments around the world through his company, Chez Roux Limited. He no longer worries about Michelin stars but continues to create venues where diners can enjoy great food without having to incur a bank loan to pay for it. Albert and his brother were voted the most influential chefs in the UK in 2003.

I raise my stein to the builder who can remove ghettos without removing people as I hail the chef who can make omelets without breaking eggs. – Robert Moses

I’m just fortunate that now I have an audience of people on the show who don’t have to pretend they have smell-o-vision. We’re actually feeding these people. I’m putting my reputation on the line as an artist, as a chef. – Emeril Lagasse

In France cooking is a serious art form and a national sport. I think the French enjoy the complication of the art form and the cooking for cooking’s sake. – Julia Child

To cook as the French do one must respect the quality and flavour of the ingredients. Exaggeration is not admissible. Flavours are not all amalgamative. These qualities are not purchasable but may be cultivated. The haute cuisine has arrived at the enviable state of reacting instinctively to these known principles. – Alice B. Toklas

Also on this day: Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow – In 1871, the Great Chicago Fire began to burn.
Opium – In 1856, the Second Opium War began.
Signatures – In 1793, John Hancock died.
Fog – In 2001, fog was a factor in a horrific plane crash.
Perfect – In 1956, Don Larson pitched a perfect baseball game.

* “ChefAlbertRouxbyRichardVince” by Richard Vines (BLOOMBERG/ NEWSROOM:) – http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2010-11-16/veteran-chef-albert-roux-has-advice-for-protege-gordon-ramsay-get-cooking. Licensed under CC BY 4.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ChefAlbertRouxbyRichardVince.jpg#/media/File:ChefAlbertRouxbyRichardVince.jpg

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