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 Roux If


it had not been Albert and Michel Roux then it would have been someone else; the English channel is only 21 miles (34 kilometres) wide between Dover and Calais, and sooner or later another Frenchman would have crossed it, determined to bring gastronomy to the United Kingdom. But would that Frenchman have eventually been awarded an OBE, or voted the most influential chef in Britain? One wonders. Certainly the task of teaching the British how to cook— and eat—must have seemed a daunting one, and perhaps it could never have been achieved by one single man. After all, as Michel notes, “it was the culinary Stone Age.” But Mike and Bert, as the vendors at London’s markets affectionately called them, turned out to be just the men for the job.

CHICKEN AND EGG It has been claimed that the chicken is simply the egg’s way of producing another egg. That may even be true. We do know that the word ‘egg’ derives from an Indo-European root which means ‘bird,’ and that each is contained in the other, which is why the egg is the perfect vehicle to carry the weight of religious symbolism that is attached to it. It is also a perfectly proportioned package of nutrition that comes in its own convenient carry-case. You could argue that the Roux brothers’ restaurants, first Le Gavroche and then the Waterside Inn, were simply means for them to create more great chefs. You could even argue, not too fancifully, that Albert and Michel are essentially the same chef divided into two separate bodies. Witness their careers. Born five years apart, both trained first as patissiers before serving in the French army in Algeria. Both were