French chef Albert Roux, who with his brother Michel brought Paris-style fine dining to London in the 1960s and inspired generations of chefs, has died aged 85, his family said on Wednesday. He had been unwell for a while.
The entrepreneurial Roux brothers were behind a culinary empire of successful restaurants, books, television programmes and a prestigious competition for chefs, exerting almost unparalleled influence on the British gourmet scene.
"He was a mentor for so many people in the hospitality industry, and a real inspiration to budding chefs, including me," said Albert's son Michel Roux Jr, who runs Le Gavroche restaurant founded in 1967 by his father and uncle.
Albert's younger brother Michel died aged 78 in March last year.
The brothers, originally from the small town of Charolles in central France, arrived in London at a time when the British capital was not known for sophisticated gastronomy.
At first, they took turns in the kitchen and dining room of Le Gavroche on Sloane Square in the smart Chelsea neighbourhood, but the restaurant was an instant success and they were soon able to go on a hiring spree.
Le Gavroche was the first restaurant in Britain to obtain three Michelin stars, the ultimate accolade in the world of haute cuisine.
The Roux brothers branched out in 1972, buying the Waterside Inn, a traditional English country pub in the village of Bray on the bank of the River Thames in Berkshire, west of London. They transformed it into a chic restaurant and cocktail bar.
In 1986, the brothers separated their business interests. Michel and his son, Alain Roux, continued to run the Waterside Inn and Alain remains in charge there.
Albert and his son, Michel Roux Jr, kept control of Le Gavroche, which is now located in the upmarket Mayfair district.