Pearls of Wisdom: Michel Roux Jr

By Becky Paskin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Michel roux jr, Michel roux

Michel Roux Jr: Promoting front of house careers in new TV show
Michel Roux Jr: Promoting front of house careers in new TV show
The celebrity chef and owner of Le Gavroche recently opened Roux at the Landau with father Albert, following the launch of Roux at Parliament Square earlier this year. He made his TV mark on BBC’s Masterchef: The Professionals in 2008, but is now fronting a new show for the channel promoting front of house careers instead.

I feel there’s a genuine need for putting service at the top of the menu​. I don’t think the greater public understand the complexity of great service, or what goes on behind the scenes. Hopefully this programme on service will bring that to life and show people.

I’ve become very attached to the trainees in this show.​ After the training period I did feel very much a father figure, and I’m still in contact with them.

This is not just a one-off, flash in the pan TV show.​ Whether we commission another series or not, the work will carry on. We’ve always promoted and tried to help youth. Its something very dear to my heart and it’s the Roux ethos to help the youngsters.

We all know good food can be ruined by bad service​. If you were to have mediocre food but exceptionally good service you’d be more prepared to go back to a restaurant, whereas if the service was terrible and the food was great you wouldn’t think twice.

The issue I have with food isthat good service should be everywhere​, whether you spend £5, £50 or £500. It shouldn’t just be restricted to fine dining.

The British have a problem understanding that service is not servitudeor being servile.​ It can be a fantastic career choice and very rewarding.

Why should we have to go abroad to get waiters?​ Out of my front of house team of 26, I only have three British which is wrong.

I consider myself a restaurateur. ​I am a chef and that’s what I’m good at, but as a restaurateur I fully understand that my food is not the be all and end all. That’s the important message we have to put across.

Reading what the customer wants is really difficult.​ Some want to be pandered on, some want every morsel on their plate described in full, and it’s up to the maitre ‘d and waiter to identify their requirements. That takes years of experience and even then you can sometimes get it wrong.

What’s great about this industry is everyday is a different challenge.​ There are very few jobs where you have a live audience for lunch and dinner. It is tough but so rewarding when things go right.

I’ve had a lot going on in the last year​, with Roux at the Landau and Parliament Square opening, a new book published, my app is now out and I’m also training for the London marathon. There have been 101 things going on but that’s always been the Roux way.

Running not only helps improve my fitness but it’s a way of de-stressingand a way of life. ​It takes self-discipline to say, ‘sorry I’m not doing anything else I’m going for a run so leave me alone’.

There are days where I think I may have bitten off too much​, but that’s the beauty of it. I get up every day before my alarm; I love what I do and I love the challenge.

Roux at Parliament Square is doing well now but took a while to get the business.​ It’s an iconic location but not an automatic place people would think to go out for dining. We initially had a few teething problems with the students and various other things that have put a spanner in the works. But that’s all ironed out now.

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2 comments

Five Stars for Roux's Service & Show

Posted by Pearl Mina,

Brilliant show and timely awareness for the hospitality & service industry. Thank you Michel Roux Jr - we all watch with great interest every week. You are a true star & gentleman of our industry - may your legend live on to the next generation. Formidable!

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Service is not an extra!

Posted by Jean-Paul De Ronne (somersetchef.blogspot.com),

I am so glad that someone of notable standing has taken the rather tricky British Bull by the horns and is tackling something that has been a thorn in the side of British Hospitality for far too long.
I am a Head Chef and Catering Consultant at present, as well as previously adding Hospitality & Catering Lecturer to my C.V. and the one thing that has always angered me is the British attitude to Front of House Customer Service.

I know this is a broad sweeping statement, and yes, there are a few exceptions (although in percentage terms this is a small number) but it is of major concern that most Publicans, Restaurateurs and even a portion of Hoteliers have the startling attitude that a professional Front of House team is an unnecessary cost, where cheaper youth labour is a better way for their business.

Even the Employers that aid the framework for the notable college courses insist that on the whole Food Service is not an element that they seek, therefore reducing the funding available to teach the subject which in turn tells the student that this is an acceptable outlook for the trade.

My father is a veteran of Food Service. He was born and raised in Belgium and chose Waiting as his career. The training was long and very meticulous and certainly regimental in style. For the first three years, he ran. From the Pass to the Dumb Waiter and back, with immaculate precision that was befitting of the job. He never went near a table nor Customer. After the first years, he was then given the right to approach tables only to crumb down, before being considered to clear plates, serve or even engage the Guests.

After a total of seven years, He was then accepted as a fully Trained Waiter, with Impeccable standards and superb skills. He went on to work as a Head Waiter and Restaurant Manager in various top Hotels, Restaurants and even Sealink Ferries before we, as a family moved over to England where he took the area by storm. Everywhere he went he was being noted for his amazing service. Remembering people that had dined before, warmly welcoming new Guests, always going the extra mile. (I should also point out he had a Motorbike accident in 1978, which left him with injuries to his ankles. Subsequently even after several operations, he has worked ever since in constant pain and in Callipers) He has always insisted on being the best for the Customer, for the Chef and for the business.

I have always followed suit, in his shadow (I feel this is the Continental in me perhaps) by insisting on Professional service, and tearing my hair out when up against Management that refuse to understand the principles of Hospitality....It's even in the title! So thank you Michel Sir, It is about time the Bull was removed from the China shop and Continental Ethics brought in.

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