The Waterside Inn - 2022 - 50th Anniversary Issue

Page 1

1972 2022 anniversary

Flying Fish Seafoods

“From Ship to plate in 48”

In 2008, after seeing a dozen Day Boat Red Mullets from Mevagissey on the back of one of our vans, we were given the incredible honour of supplying the Waterside Inn.

Founded in 2006, Flying Fish serves some of the greatest chefs in the UK. We stick strongly to the ethos of delivering the best seafood the country has to o er to the best restaurants within 48 hours of being caught: 'Ship to Plate in 48'.

Every weekday morning our expert buyers are up before sunrise picking the best catch from the Day Boats at Looe, Brixham, Newlyn and Plymouth markets. From Native Cornish Lobsters and Dover Soles to O shore Deep-Sea Mussels, sourcing from local sherman is key to providing not only the freshest sh, but also vital in supporting the community; mixing with the people who catch them, gives us a real insight into how important their history has been in creating the current industry we love.

The passion the team shows towards the sh that we supply to our customers is exemplary. As a company our commitment to responsible sourcing and the highest industry practices are rigorously followed to protect the rich and ample stocks we currently enjoy. All sh is meticulously selected ensuring supplies can be traced back to sheries and vessels that only operate strict sustainable policies.

Taking advice from other industries such as the Cornwall Good Seafood Guide and the Responsible Fishing Scheme is key. This allows our team to actively promote and educate regarding not only di erent sustainable species but also their catchment methods and their impact on the environment, we feel this is vital in preserving future stocks for our children’s children.

The legacy of the The Roux Family and the Waterside Inn is something of true distinction, we are incredibly humbled knowing the sh that we so tirelessly work daily to source and provide The Roux dynasty, will provide so many happy faces, from the youngest of chefs just starting their career, all the way through into the dining room and beyond. Flying Fish is extremely proud to supply the Roux family with the nest ingredients, providing a real taste of Cornwall.

A massive congratulations from all of us on celebrating your 50th anniversary, and may all of your successes long continue for the next 50 years!

Beyond rare vintages Recreating the perfect year
99/100 96/100 19/20 Grand Siècle Nº23 in magnum. On allocation. - # grandsiecle
Photographer Iris VelgheDesign LUMA


Mike Gibson


Matthew Hasteley


Mark Hedley


Lucy Javanshir


Molly Codyre


Ben Winstanley

Carolyn Boyd

Nick Savage


David Harrison

Ian Dingle

Jamie Lau

Lateef Okunnu


Lee Whitlock

PUBLISHED BY Threadneedle Media Ltd ON BEHALF OF Roux Waterside Inn Ltd

WELCoME to oUr special 50th anniversary celebration issue. It’s half a century since my dad first set eyes on The Waterside Inn, a tired, neglected wreck of a pub in the middle of nowhere. It was love at first sight. And it was the perfect base for him and his brother Albert to take their unique interpretation of classic French cuisine into the countryside beyond London. The culinary scene in the UK, now one of the biggest global influences, was at that time in the dark ages, a shadow of its current self. My dad and uncle were poised to switch on the light.

I was four years old at the time, petrol cost eight pence a gallon and the world was in love with Ziggy Stardust. Times and fashions may have changed but The Waterside Inn remains true to its roots as a classic French restaurant. Little did I know that three Michelin stars and more than 20 annual magazines later, I would be at the helm, steering the ship through the choppy waters of the culinary business and the excitement of this year’s 50th-anniversary celebrations.

My heart is full of joy writing this, my first introduction, with so many plans to share – but sadness, too. Facing the closure of our restaurant in March 2020, in the grip of the pandemic, days after losing my beloved father, it was the end of the world as far as I was concerned. In the dark days and months that followed, it was the support of my family, friends and team that pulled us through and to whom I dedicate this issue. More than just another magazine, this is a dynamic celebration of consistency, optimism, resilience and determination.

From 1972 to 2022, the core of The Waterside Inn has been the remarkable talent both in the kitchen and the front-of-house – not forgetting the fantastic guests and suppliers who have supported us throughout. This issue is a fitting showcase and I'm immensely grateful to everyone who has supported us, whether through photographs and recollections – particularly of my father – or their various contributions, articles, advertisements or research. Further, it is a fitting showcase for our new collaboration with Threadneedle Media, namely editor Mike Gibson, creative director Matthew Hasteley and their skilled team. The project has been a dream and we hope you love the new look as much as we do. When it came to considering who would be an appropriate person to encapsulate the main story of our magazine, there really was no other choice. His friendship with the family is very special but with my dad, he shared a deep bond. He’s a Roux Scholarship judge and one of our favourite guests at The Waterside Inn. And his visits are always memorable, as you'll discover when you meet James Martin on page 70.

Celebration, as you can see, is the common thread with this issue, although mirroring only a handful of its changing faces, its power and excitement. I could say lots more about what’s in these pages, but in the end I think it’s better to leave you to discover for yourselves what became of that shabby old pub. I hope you will find a fascinating and illuminating testament to a halfcentury of life at The Waterside Inn, as we look ahead to the next...

Lateef Okunnu
© Threadneedle Media Limited 2022. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. All information contained in this magazine is, as far as we are aware, correct at the time of going to press. Threadneedle Media Limited cannot accept responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in such information. If you submit unsolicited material to us, you automatically grant Threadneedle Media Limited a licence to publish your submission in whole or in part in all editions of the magazine. All material is sent at your own risk and although every care is taken, neither Threadneedle Media Limited nor its employees, agents or subcontractors shall be held liable resulting for loss or damage. Threadneedle Media Limited endeavours to respect the intellectual property of the owners of copyrighted material reproduced herein. If you identify yourself as the copyright holder of material we have wrongly attributed, please contact the office. Threadneedle Media Limited, 60 Gracechurch Street, London EC3V 0HR. This magazine uses paper from sustainable sources 9 WELCoME LEttEr THE WATERSIDE INN 50 TH ANNIVERSARY ISSUE


With over fifty years of experience supplying wine drinkers nationwide, our portfolio contains some of the most recognisable and pre-eminent names in the wine world. For information on our wines and our services please contact: Peter Lowe, Chairman on 0207 609 4711.

@Berkmann_Wine @BerkmannWine


A celebration of the life of the late, great Michel Roux OBE, featuring memories and anecdotes from those who knew him best


We sit down with Laura Roux to discuss her role as The Waterside Inn’s creative director, her sense of style and her design influences


A conversation with Alain Roux, where we find out how his direction and influence is shaping the restaurant’s next decade


A collection of classic and modern dishes that sum up The Waterside Inn’s ethos and its approach to cooking over the years


Restaurateur and TV chef James Martin on his career and a long-standing relationship with the Roux family that spans decades


An insight into the hard work behind the scenes that goes into making a trip to The Waterside Inn so memorable, and a guide to getting the most out of your visit



Lateef Okunnu
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Ian Dingle
New faces
The Roux Scholarship
Decade Dinners


A round-up of recent happenings at The Waterside Inn, from new products and partners to charitable initiatives

Cause for a feast

Scents and sensibility

Any restaurant is a feast for the senses, and one that’s been operational for half a century is even more so. At The Waterside Inn, taste may be the first one you think of, but you might also think of the sun’s reflection off the Thames; the sound of clinking glasses and chatter; the bounce of the carpet; or the smell of great food, wine and spirits, old wood and fresh air.

If the latter rings true for you, you might be interested to know about the venue’s new signature candle. A project overseen by creative director Laura Roux, the new candle – made by expert candlemaker Richard Howard of Arcania Apothecary and Cathy Biggs of Limelight Bath – aims to capture the signature scent of The Waterside Inn in a beautiful candle encased in a bespoke pot.

Lending support to charitable causes was something Michel Roux OBE was always passionate about, and it’s a tradition chef patron Alain Roux has continued throughout his career. As a fellow of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, Alain is a long-standing supporter of the organisation’s Adopt-a-School charity since its formation in 2000, alongside his father, and he took up an invitation to cook at the first fundraising dinner of 2022 without hesitation. Alain prepared the meat course of the banquet in February, held at Westminster Kingsway College in London, and cooked alongside chefs including Giorgio Locatelli and Colin Westal. royalacademyof

Try before you buy

En Primeur Week has become not only a crucial part of wine buying at The Waterside Inn over the years, but a much-loved annual pilgrimage by Alain Roux, general manager Frédéric Poulette, director Claude Grant – and formerly, of course, Michel Roux OBE. After two years of travel restrictions, Alain, Fred and Claude were delighted to return to Bordeaux in 2022 to taste remarkable new vintages from long-standing partners including Château Margaux, Château Palmer, Château LynchBages, Château Giscours and Château Mouton Rothschild. Expect to see them pop up on the wine list in years to come. For more information, email claudegrant@

Water of life

The water served at a restaurant is a hugely important part of the offering – and when it’s at a three-Michelin-starred restaurant alongside some of the best food and drink in the country, even more so. The Waterside Inn’s new water partner, Sources Alma, is a French brand that sources pure mineral water from springs set

in the volcanoes of Vals-lesBains in the Ardeche – one of the oldest sources of mineral water in France – and the Alps. So the next time you’re dining at The Waterside Inn, you’ll know it’s not just the wine that comes with serious provenance and history, but the Vals sparkling and Thonon still water, too.

(Arcadia Apothecary) Kasia Murfet; (Sources Alma) Lateef Okunnu

Sailing away

The history of the Roux family and cruise ships is a long and storied one, and Alain can recall cooking on board ships from some of the world’s best operators alongside his father with the last being the Regent Seven Seas Explorer in April 2019. A sponsor of the Roux Scholarship and long-standing friend of The Waterside Inn, Regent Seven Seas is gearing up to host Alain again at a date

in the future to be confirmed. Expect interactive masterclasses with food inspired by the route’s show-stopping destinations.

Paint a picture

Local flavour

The kids are alright

With such close ties to the Royal Family, neighbouring Windsor was always going to pull out all the stops to celebrate The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, including a very special dinner in May. Held at Eton College, the Platinum Jubilee Schools Banquet was a dinner catered by students aged 13-16 from schools across Windsor. The keen young chefs had taken part in a competition to be involved in the event, termed ‘A Celebration of Education’, with the winners cooking for 85 invitees, including guest of honour Alain Roux, and serving dishes including chicken ballotine, smoked mackerel pâté and more. windsorplatinum

The Waterside Inn’s line-up of dark spirits blended or selected for Michel and Alain Roux is legendary, with The Waterside Inn’s name and logo visible on many a label in the digestif trolley. It made sense, then, for a selection of gins to follow, and Berkshire’s own Hawkridge Distillery made for the perfect brand partner. A duo of house gins – a classic London Dry and the punchy Rhubarb & Ginger – have been developed by Hawkridge’s expert team, headed up by James Gurney, alongside direction from Alain Roux and Frédéric Poulette on the botanicals and the flavour profiles, and both are now mainstays at the bar and shop.

The Waterside Inn has been documented too many times to count over the years, from photographs across the decades that captured moments in its history to art inspired by the village and the venue. A notable recent project, however, is one sure to pique the interest of fine-art lovers. 50 Shades of Bray is a new collection

Sitting pretty

While many of the changes Laura Roux has overseen to The Waterside Inn’s interior spaces are immediately recognisable, there are more subtle updates you’ll find if you know where to look. That’s certainly the case in the dining room, where Laura and Frédéric Poulette have worked with the renowned and family-owned French furniture maker Pierre Frey – in particular its director Amandine Dufour –on some beautiful new bespoke chairs for the dining room. The new chairs were devised during a hands-on trip to the brand’s home in Paris, and are refined and elegant in their simplicity.

of paintings by acclaimed London-based artist Andrew Hewkin M.A., which aims to capture the inimitable energy of the picturesque Berkshire village The Waterside Inn calls home, with many of the paintings inspired by scenes at the water’s edge right by the restaurant’s terrace, and a launch event at The Waterside Inn co-hosted by Alain Roux. See the collection at



Your guide to a few of the people who've recently joined the kitchen at The Waterside Inn, from a new head chef to some promising apprentices


Many of the young chefs who pass through The Waterside Inn early on in their careers end up coming back in senior positions, and the latest to do so is new joint head chef Adam Wright. The Norfolk-born chef [pictured left] started as a commis chef under Alain Roux and worked his way up to chef de partie

over four years, before working under influential chefs in France including Guy Savoy and César Troisgros. Having kept in touch with the Roux family, he now joins head chef Fabrice Urhyn [pictured right] in overseeing the day-to-day in the kitchen.

“After six incredible years in France refining my skills and

knowledge, I felt it was time to return ‘home’,” says Adam. “The Waterside Inn is a place like no other – working here really raises your standards and allows you the space to grow and be the best you can be. I come to work knowing that every day you can learn something new.”

Adam is passionate about

the potential to develop young talent. “The biggest change I’ve seen since coming back is how we’re supporting our staff through weekly challenges, to allow them to develop their skills and techniques. It’s so pleasing to have young British apprentices learning and working alongside us in the kitchen.”

The new head chef

The apprentices


While running the kitchen at The Waterside Inn represents a true career peak, Adam, Fabrice and the team are always keeping a keen eye on the next generation – those at the start of their careers, for whom time spent in the restaurant’s kitchens provides invaluable experience, whether they stay for decades

or go on to open their own restaurants. In the kitchen at the moment are Reuben, Cameron and Bradley, three promising young British chefs, who are getting an education in classic cooking like no other.

“I started off as a kitchen porter and decided I wanted to become a chef,” says Reuben,

who attended Westminster Kingsway catering college. “I worked at a local restaurant for a few months, but I wanted to push for more. I was fortunate enough to land myself here.”

“Each Sunday, we get given an alternate between all three of us,” says Bradley. “So I do it one week, Reuben does it the

next, and Cameron does it the week after. It’s usually a classical French dish. We serve the chefs and they give us feedback. It’s so good to learn new techniques.”

“There’s so much to learn here, so much to see, and so many opportunities,” says Reuben. “For a young apprentice, it’s a dream come true.”

Working here raises your standards and allows you to be the best you can be. Every day you learn something new
(left) Lateef Okunnu; (right) Ciaran McCrickard

The class of 2022...

The winner of the Roux Scholarship for this year has been announced, and it was the product of another nail-biting competition featuring some incredible young chefs

WHEn rUnnInG a heritage, generationspanning institution in the vein of The Waterside Inn, identifying and nurturing talent is of central importance, and one of the means in which this has been pursued has historically been through the

Roux Scholarship competition. This year’s contest was one of the most thrilling to date Founded in the heady days of 1984, when the late, great Andrew Fairlie won top trumps for his flair in the kitchen, the Roux Scholarship has been woven into the warp and weft of The Waterside Inn’s engagement with rising culinary talents. In 2022, following unprecedented challenges to the fine dining and hospitality industry, the Roux Scholarship competition felt more important than ever before.

Following a series of fiercely competitive, head-to-head regional finals held in London and Birmingham on Thursday 24 March and blind-judged by top chefs including Alain Roux, Michel Roux Jr, Clare Smyth, Sat Bains and Simon Hulstone, six enterprising young chefs were chosen as a shortlist to be included in the finals.

The Roux Scholarship has been woven into the warp and weft of The Waterside Inn’s engagement with rising culinary talents

The winning chef

Competition for this year’s initiative was as tight as ever and, according to judge Hélène Darroze, it was difficult to choose from the best three. But a winner had to be declared, and 25-year-old junior sous chef Jonathan Ferguson – who works at the Glenturret Lalique Restaurant in Crieff, Scotland – emerged as the victor.

“I’m happy, really happy,” Ferguson was quoted as saying at the competition’s award ceremony the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hyde Park for the Award Ceremony. “I freaked out a bit when presented with the dish we had to cook, but two minutes into it, I settled down really quickly.” Ferguson’s take on the challenging final dish truly showcased a young chef bursting with talent.

They included Kieran Bradley from The Vineyard Hotel in Stockcross, Newbury; Jonathan Ferguson of The Glenturret Lalique Restaurant in Crieff, Scotland; Ruth Hansom of The Princess of Shoreditch in London; Yiannis Mexis from Hide in London’s Mayfair; Christos Sidiropoulos of Flemings Mayfair; and George Whitelock of Angler Restaurant in the City of London.

A fortnight later, on Monday 11 April 2022, the six finalists squared off in a highly challenging final cook-off held at the Westminster Kingsway College in London. Stakes were high for the evening, too: not only does the winning chef receive a purse of £6,000, with an additional £6,000 awarded if they stay with their current employer for 15 additional months, they also receive the opportunity to supercharge their career under the supervision of a leading chef at a prestigious three-star Michelin restaurant anywhere in the world for up to three months – a truly unique opportunity.

The judging panel was led by honorary president of judges Hélène Darroze, who boasts six Michelin stars across her

restaurants in London, Paris and Provence. Competitors were asked to prepare one of Escoffier’s most challenging dishes: chilled roasted ducks, coated in a brown chaud-froid jellied velouté sauce, served with chilled individual Chartreuse of asparagus. Suffice it

Winning chef Jonathan Ferguson dedicated his win to the late Andrew Fairlie, the first ever winner of the Roux Scholarship

to say, it was a very tough, testing recipe to execute perfectly, and many of the chefs had never prepared it beforehand.

In a nice turn of events, the winning chef Jonathan Ferguson – who embarked upon his career at the two Michelin-starred Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles – dedicated his award to the hotel’s late Andrew Fairlie, who was the first person to inspire him to apply for the initiative as well as the first person to win the Roux Scholarship upon the competition’s inception.

With this in mind, it seems that the Roux Scholarship has truly come full circle, with a family of competitors that share a unique camaraderie and spirit that extends both into the past and into the future.

▸ TOUGH COMPETITION: [clockwise from left]

Some of the judging panel; the awards night; Clare Smyth in discussion; more judges with the winner; Jonathan Ferguson preps his winning dish


Counting in tens

A series of special dinners celebrates five decades of success for the restaurant

tHE WatErsIDE Inn team knows that the best celebrations happen around the table. That’s why a series of special dinners have seen loyal guests from over the years celebrating with friends and icons from the restaurant’s past on five Fridays throughout 2022, each one with a special menu harking back to a particular decade. The first, pictured here, saw former head chef Pierre Koffmann, Alain Roux and other guests stand up and deliver toasts to days gone by, as well as fittingly warm and heartfelt tributes to Michel Roux OBE and Robyn. The evenings have featured exciting musical entertainment and incredible wine from partner producers, with each night capped off with a truly special cognac, the Hardy Noces D’Or The Waterside Inn 50th Anniversary. What’s more, 50% of profits went to charities close to Alain’s heart, including Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation, the Pulmonary Fibrosis Trust and RACA Adopt-a-School.

Chefs and partners


4 MARCH The restaurant’s first head chef Pierre Koffmann was the special guest, with wines from Château Palmer and Dom Pérignon

6 MAY An evening of wines from Château Haut-Brion and Billecart-Salmon, with former head chef Christian Germain in attendance

8 JULY Wines from Château Cheval Blanc and Charles Heidsieck, alongside

former head chefs Mark Dodson and Michel Perraud

7 OCTOBER Former head chef Russell Holborn, with wines from Château Lafite-Rothschild and Laurent-Perrier

2 DECEMBER Wines from Château Latour and Taittinger, in honour of The Waterside Inn’s current head chef Fabrice Uhryn and general manager Frédéric Poulette


Perfect partnerships

In a special instalment for this issue's Waterside Inn magazine, founder of Joe & Seph's JosEpH sopHEr interviews our chef-patron Alain Roux on their long-standing partnership with the gourmet popcorn brand

JoE & sEpH’s, the pioneering purveyor of endless gourmet popcorn creations, has been a loyal supplier to The Waterside Inn since 2019, creating bespoke flavours and special selections with its founder, the late Michel Roux, and son and chef-patron Alain.

Founder Joseph Sopher met up with Alain Roux, to find out why the relationship has stood the test of time.

JOSEPH SOPHER: Chef Alain, we’re incredibly proud of our association with you and The Waterside Inn. How do you choose the brands you work with?

ALAIN ROUX: Without the perfect ingredients, we can’t achieve the quality for which we are renowned. This philosophy is the backbone to all we do. As for Joe & Seph's, my father fell in love with your popcorn when he first tried it on a flight and the rest, as they say, is history.

About Joe & Seph's

Established in 2010, Joe & Seph’s is a family business based in London that has revolutionised the market over the last decade with its handmade, gourmet popcorn and caramel sauces. Award-winning innovators, the brand handcrafts officially the best tasting popcorn in the UK, with more than 75 Great Taste Awards for its imaginative range.

Discover the full collection of gourmet products at and follow the brand on social media for a behind the scenes insight into this family-run business.

Instagram: @joeandseph

Twitter: @joeandseph

TikTok: @joeandseph

Facebook: @joeandseph

JS: With 75 Great Taste Awards, we believe Joe & Seph’s is the best-tasting popcorn. What is the feedback from your guests and team?

AR: The variety of flavours and exciting, innovative combinations are amazing, with new introductions to the collection all the time. The quality of the cooking and raw ingredients shines through. We love them all, from savoury to sweet, naughty treats to enjoy any time of night or day.

JS: In your restaurants, is there a particular drink that your customers like to enjoy our popcorn with?

AR: Being French, we love to offer the classics to our customers, but they always look for something more unusual, too. And anything with chocolate is always a winner! But there's a variety to complement every drink, whether champagne, a cocktail, a glass of wine or even a simple cup of tea or coffee.

JS: What do you think of our latest creations, Shortbread and Black Forest?

AR: The buttery richness of the classic Shortbread biscuit is unmistakable, gorgeous. And The Black Forest really does epitomise your brand. I can taste the chocolate, and real cherries and real almonds, too. When it comes down to it, I think that’s really what's so amazing about Joe & Seph's: all the vibrant, beautiful layers and fresh flavours are there in a single popcorn kernel.

▴ A MATCH MADE IN BRAY: [from left] Joseph Sober with Alain Roux at The Waterside Inn; a gourmet popcorn flavour created with chef Alain
Liesel Bockl
A market leading provider of commercial catering facilities With over 70 years’ experience in commercial catering facilities, delivering everything from one-off equipment replacements to full turnkey solutions, meeting our client’s exact requirements is what we do. Design - Supply - Installation - Maintenance “When you install a kitchen, you need to understand the chefs and they do that very well. Working with Gratte Brothers is always the same, they’re well organised and they finish when the job is done.”
Alain Roux 01438 750022

Three cheers for your fifty years.


26 Michel Roux OBE

34 Château Palmer

38 Robert Thompson’s

42 Laura Roux


Ian Dingle

A towering influence

Two years after the passing of the great Michel Roux OBE, we pay tribute to the life, the career and the enduring legacy of a true culinary icon and a friend to so many, with personal memories, anecdotes and recollections from those who knew him best

Partners in wine

I started working for the Roux family at Le Gavroche in May 1984, a couple of weeks after arriving in the UK newly married to John, my British husband. At the end of 1984 it was agreed that I would move to the head office of Roux Restaurants Limited in London and would work for Michel Roux. It was a challenge, and quite scary as Michel had such a large personality. But it worked well and we became a team, with me trying to always be a step ahead of him. He was a workaholic and a perfectionist, but it did not bother me as I was the same. I moved to Bray in 1987.

After so many years of working together it is difficult to remember something in particular. Every day was different. Michel loved to take up a challenge and one of the things he really enjoyed was writing his cookery books. He wrote all his recipes by hand and in French. I would type the manuscript and edit it in French. It could be quite demanding at times, especially when he was giving me eight or ten recipes in an afternoon, hoping by the next morning I would have typed and edited the whole lot. He would call me at home at around dinner time, to find out if all was going as well as expected and to see if I had any questions.

I often did not have the courage to tell him that no, I had not started yet, having two young kids to look after when I was arriving home and it would have to wait until there were in bed. But after the first couple of books, it became easier and we worked well together, to the extent that he did not want anyone else to work on the French manuscript.

I was very privileged to accompany him to the en primeur week in Bordeaux for the past seven years. We always felt


welcome by all the winemakers we visited, as Michel had a long association with them. It was interesting to meet the owners of these châteaux, to see the friendship between them and Michel, and to learn how to taste these interesting wines. I also travelled with him to France and Switzerland, to assist him in any new challenges.

I was incredibly surprised when he announced one day in 2012 that he would like to invite me to become a director of Roux Waterside Inn Ltd and of Michel Roux Ltd, but I can honestly say that he trusted me totally at work or looking after his personal affairs. Over the years he also became a close friend to me and my family, joining us for birthdays or other special occasions such as my son’s wedding (despite not being in a great form at that time), or coming for a quick dinner at home on a short notice in the months following Robyn’s passing.

Michel had a big personality, he was charismatic, hard-working, giving the best of himself and demanding the best of the people working for him. However, at the same time, he could be charming, caring and generous – such as the time when he would turn up with food at my house to cook my lunch when I was convalescing, despite being a very busy man.

I have so many happy memories of all these years working for him at The Waterside Inn, ones I will always treasure.

The perfect guest

I have been trying to think of words for Michel. It’s so hard – to me he was a wonderful friend, and actually like the brother I have never had. I first met him and Robyn in 1986 – they came for Sunday lunch and he ate five Yorkshire puddings!

I loved his humour, even his

grumpiness at times, I valued his friendship and loyalty, I admired him for all his achievements, but above all, he was my friend.

Voice of an angel

Michel Roux had the most resonant, unforgettable bass baritone voice, as anyone who heard it will agree; a voice that could melt butter or sell snow to the eskimos. On days when he was on his ‘good morning’ rounds to the staff, you knew it would be a good one when he was gently singing some unknowable tune. He was a happy soul. Had he not been a chef he always said he wanted to be a singer.

Michel loved jazz, and Louis Armstrong in particular. He told me that in the early days he used to listen to his music between services to relax. He also loved Edith Piaf and one afternoon treated his guests to a (slightly tipsy) rendition of ‘La Vie en Rose’ with Alex Haigh – then part of a cappella ensemble Apollo 5 – to huge applause.

Conversations with Michel were not all about work, and after more than 20 years at The Waterside Inn he and I touched on many subjects which one day led to me telling him of my interest in music; playing the cornet, attending many local concerts, singing in my church choir and local choral society. When I told Michel about a new choir in Oxford being formed by David Crown – whom I knew from attending many wonderful concerts given by Vox Chamber Choir – I was sitting on the fence about putting myself forward for the audition. I had no confidence about the quality

of my singing voice having never been through an audition before. Michel was typically bullish, looking directly at me with those piercing blue eyes and saying I had nothing to lose. “You must do it!” The driving force for me to go through with the whole thing was the sure knowledge that if he asked me “Have you applied?” and I said no, the look of disappointment on his face would be harder to endure than the audition.

So the audition day dawned at 8pm on a weekday in May 2018, at the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building at St Hilda’s, Oxford. Michel was very supportive, making sure I left work in good time so as not to be late, and very keen to know the next day how it went. The truth was I did get nervous beforehand, but once I was in the music room David Crown managed to coax something out of me that even I didn’t know I had. I left the audition delighted with myself and wondering why I had been so nervous. The whole process was a wonderful experience regardless of whether I would be chosen.

Weeks passed before the email

arrived, which it did, on a sunny afternoon in June, Royal Ascot week, and the subject line read “Opus 48 audition outcome”. I decided I would read it outside on the terrace by the river, being a Monday afternoon and no one around, or so I thought. I was prepared for the worst but the opening line of the email said “We are delighted to inform you that we think you're exactly the type of singer that we'd love to have in Opus 48.” There was the biggest smile on my face and almost immediately, in Mr Ben fashion, Michel seemed to be on the terrace too and we were ↘

Michel had an unforgettable baritone voice, as anyone who heard it will agree
▴ SILVER SERVICE: Michel in The Waterside Inn’s dining room in the early days
Insp I rat I on MICHEL ROUX OBE 27
▴ HATS OFF: Michel prepping dishes in the kitchen, in an old picture from The Waterside Inn’s archive

↘ both giddy with happiness.

Michel was very interested in Opus 48’s creation and was among the founder “friends” of the choir.

Rehearsals started in September 2018 and the first concert was given in November at The Gresham Centre, at St. Anne Church, London, home of VOCES8. Michel attended that first concert and there was certainly a buzz among some of my fellow choir members, one remarking that during the interval she had heard a voice which she thought she recognised, turned around, saw it was Michel Roux and wondered how he came to be in the audience! The programme that night was Faure’s Requiem and Durufle’s Requiem. He thoroughly enjoyed the evening (apart from the interval wine of course, which was never really going to be to his taste!). Had ill health not prevented it I know he would have attended many more.

As a result of joining Opus 48 I have met some incredibly talented singers and musicians. I continue to be challenged by the repertoire but there is enormous pleasure in the sense of collective achievement on concert day. More than anything, I know that Michel is still on my singing shoulder, and that he is proud of me.

Shoot for perfection

Michel was a truly remarkable and talented individual, who made a huge impact on many people, not least of all myself. His talents – which include, but are not limited to, his vision, drive, enthusiasm, business acumen, the pursuit of excellence, in addition to his genius as a chef and restaurateur – are responsible for one of the greatest restaurant business legacies in the world and an enduring influence broader still.

Michel told us how in 1972 he stood on the opposite bank of the River Thames and surveyed the run-down pub that only he could visualise as the embodiment we see and love today. Michel’s pride in the Waterside was as much for how successful it was as a business as its outstanding credentials as a restaurant were. He used to say that there are many great chefs and restaurants, but not so many successful ones.

Michel’s work was governed by the very highest ambitions and standards of operation which are in perfect harmony with the aspirations of a three-Michelinstarred restaurant. In this regard I have a simple take on my learning from him, which paraphrases Vince Lombardi (whom I had never heard of, or this quote, until writing this piece, I promise!):

“Shoot for perfection and you might just achieve excellence.”

Attention to detail is something that was never overlooked, and I still feel guilty for all the extra work I saddled the Waterside with when I innocently asked Michel if he would provide dessert and cheese for our in-flight meal on the way to a charity leadership weekend in Spain and Portugal.

I envisaged throwing a few gateaux and whole cheeses onto the plane, but no – of course that wasn’t how Michel saw it. Plates and bowls were ordered to precise shapes and sizes to fit the in-flight trays and the desserts had to be made of a size to fit perfectly.

On the leadership weekend, Michel was one of our many great patrons, and he always demonstrated his unique ability to light up any room he walked into. His almost childlike enthusiasm, infectious energy and joy for life was matched with a curiosity and humility that made him an absolute delight to be around.

He was also able to show us a few other skills he had in abundance: his incredible command of the English language, a wicked sense of humour and directness that could sometimes sting a little! Every night on the leadership weekend, Michel would critique the food we had just eaten and insisted on inviting the chefs to come out of the kitchen to hear his words of wisdom. One particular night the meal hadn’t been of the anticipated quality and his everlasting commentary delivered this rhetorical question: “If that was spring lamb I’d like to know which year it came from!”

These are just a fraction of the many amazing Michel thoughts and memories we have; his star will continue to shine very brightly

for so many of us. Chevalier de la Legion d’honneur, Michel Roux.

Des moments exceptionnels

Par F ran Ço I s et JE an-E t IE nn E M atton de Château Minuty, voisines à Gassin et fournisseurs loyaux au Waterside Inn

Nous connaissions Michel depuis plus de 30 ans, car c'était en dehors de notre voisin, un ami de nos parents.

Nous avions une grande considération pour Michel par sa carrière impressionnante honorée par ses paires et de nombreux guides. Nous avions toujours beaucoup de plaisir à échanger avec lui lors de ses visites estivales dans la maison familiale.

A force de se côtoyer, nous nous sommes rapprochés de lui et nous l'avons toujours considéré comme un de nos parrains professionnels. Nous entendons par parrain une personne avec laquelle nous pouvions avoir des discussions franches et honnêtes, n'hésitant pas à nous reprendre sur des erreurs ou maladresses commises dans le cadre de notre métier. Nous nous souvenons des apéritifs à la Bergerie où nous échangions sur l'avenir et la considération des rosés de Provence en général et de Château Minuty en particulier.

Nous gardons en mémoire sa grande qualité de dégustateur ou ce dernier n'hésitait pas à critiquer ouvertement les vins que nous avions élaborés par le passé et qui selon lui, et à juste titre, n'étaient pas à la hauteur de la qualité exigée par sa clientèle et pour le développement de notre maison. Il fut donc bien agréable et rassurant d'entendre ses louanges sur les 10 dernières années avant qu'il nous quitte, à propos de la finesse et de l'élégance de nos rosés. Enfin, nous nous souvenons toujours de ses dîners exceptionnels préparés à la minute, accompagnés des grands vins et champagnes conservés dans sa cave. Ces moments étaient de vrais moments de partage et d'amitié

His talents were responsible for one of the greatest restaurant legacies in the world
▴ OH, BROTHER: Michel with his sibling and business partner Albert

avec un homme exceptionnel.

Nous les regretterons mais garderons en mémoire la grande personnalité qu'était Michel.

Out on the town

Having worked with Mr Roux for 20 years or more, there are two pivotal memories that I would like to share. The first time I travelled to Malaysia with Mr Roux, I accompanied him to The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Taipei, in Taiwan. It was March 2016 and I felt fortunate to have been chosen as part of a small team representing The Waterside Inn for a gastronomic promotion we hosted there. Along with my colleagues, chefs Rajkumar Holuss and Alex Beard, I suffered terrible jetlag. By 2am on the first evening, the three of us were still wide awake. So, we decided to investigate the nightlife. We crashed into all the clubs and bars and became karaoke stars overnight, rarely returning to the hotel before 6am.

After a few days’ hard work and some nights on the town, we were becoming exhausted. Mr Roux asked me how we were sleeping, and I admitted we were having problems. So, he gave me some herbal tablets to help us sleep. None of us took any! A couple of days later, Mr Roux asked whether the tablets were helping. Not wishing to hurt his feelings, I thanked him and said the tablets were working well. But the fact that I had lied to Mr Roux weighed heavily on my mind. So before long, I admitted not only the truth but that we had been out every night trawling the bars and clubs of Taipei. Mr Roux smiled and said “I know! And I know what time each of you have been coming back to the hotel.” I was shocked to learn he had asked the Night Porter to report our movements back to him.

We collapsed in laughter, and far from being angry, Mr Roux wanted to know all about our experiences. He was keen to share tales of his own exploits from early promotions overseas, where Mr Roux had never slept either! The experience taught me that Mr Roux was and always would be ‘The Boss’, but from this moment, we became friends too.

It was during another promotion, this time in January 2017 at The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Bangkok, that I learned perhaps the most valuable and profound lesson from Mr Roux.

The promotion was busy and successful. From the moment we arrived, we were plunged into preparation and back-to-back meetings. Towards the end of the third evening, Mr Roux – who at that time was more than 70 years old – admitted to me that he was starting to feel tired. It was not surprising, since he had spent all evening chatting to guests and posing for their photos. “There’s only one table of guests left,” he said, “so I will turn in now and see you at breakfast tomorrow.” As the last table got ready to leave, the hostess was checking her phone. She was unhappy with the photos taken with Mr Roux and asked if he could return to do some more.

Reluctantly, I rang Mr Roux, who by this time was in his pyjamas ready for bed. As tired as he was, he returned to the

dining room dressed in fresh chef’s whites with neatly combed hair and a bright cheerful smile, and posed for yet more photos. He did not return to bed until his guests were fully satisfied. Mr Roux’s humble example taught me the meaning of hospitality.

He always called me ‘Fredo’, an affectionate nickname that makes me smile. For me, Mr Roux was my Pappy, a grandfather figure who I will never forget.


My thoughts and memories about Mr Roux would be like many others. He was my boss, but also my friend. He was a very loyal gentleman, and generous with his help and advice.. He was a pretty fierce businessman, and a fiercer chef I’m sure, but he was also a very funny and charming man, and I do miss him.

I was introduced to him as ‘Mr Roux’ and for 20 or more years, whenever we spoke, and even in a social setting, that’s what I called

him. It was a mark of respect on my part, and I think he liked that.

I have a couple of recollections that always make me chuckle when I think about them.

I was working on something in the old kitchen in the mid 2000s, it was a Monday or Tuesday and Mr Roux was having a photoshoot for one of his books. He was set up in the private dining room with Tiger, his trusted lieutenant, doing a lot of the running around. However, Mr Roux decided he was going to toast some almonds himself under the salamander. Three or four times he tried this, he would put them under, disappear to do something else (he was a busy man after all) and return at least 30 seconds too late, by which time they had burned. The rising anger was palpable, and by the last time I almost felt that I should look out for the almonds myself, although I wouldn’t have dared. He came back to another batch of burned almonds and shouted his favourite two expletives followed by “Tiger!” I knew the pressure was now on his lieutenant, as another batch of burned almonds would be the end of the world. As I left an hour or so later I heard him bellow “Tiger! Légume!” and I knew that Tiger was in for a long afternoon.

Another exchange came in January 2018, on the day before The Waterside Inn was due to reopen after its annual shutdown. Mr Roux rang me to ask what I was doing, and I told him that it was very busy, with lots of little jobs, everyone wanting something done. “You know what January is like,” I pleaded.

“Well you are a not a f**king handyman, I don’t want you wasting your time on silly bits and pieces, if someone wants something doing, even Diego, you tell them to ring me – ring Pappy. Do you understand?” he replied, ↘

Michel returned in fresh chef’s whites and a bright, cheerful smile to take more photos
Insp I rat I on MICHEL ROUX OBE 29
◂ LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON: Alain Roux at work in the kitchen with Michel

↘ obviously not impressed.

“Yes Mr Roux,” I replied.

“Where are you going to be at midday?” he asked.

“In Bray.”

“I want you to come to my house and turn my mattress.”

I did go to his house at midday, by which time the housekeepers had turned his mattress and made his bed. I’ll never know if he was serious or just being a funny devil, but it certainly made me laugh.

Family matters

Both Michel and Robyn were very good friends of our parents, John and Eileen. The Waterside Inn was always their favourite restaurant from the 1970s, and the place they’d always go to for special occasions. As they got older, Michel and the Waterside allowed them to visit weekly for their favourite chicken dinners. Our dad also got Michel to deliver Waterside take-aways for the family Boxing Day gathering.

If any of the Guest family,

including my brothers Tim and Robert, have a need to celebrate anything it is the Waterside Inn that we go to – especially at Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries & other important family events, big or small.

I know our father especially enjoyed going to various French wineries with Michel and the Waterside Club members. These were extremely special times for him. Michel and John probably could chat very honestly to each other. They were both self-made men who always had confidence in their skills and ambitions. Both achieved their dreams. John and Eileen would have been extremely touched that Michel chose to dedicate the willow tree to them at the Waterside. We were all delighted as well.


These two photos are from both ends of our friendship. The first is from 1985, when the Waterside was awarded its third

star. We celebrated with a Thames river cruise. Mark Prescott, Chris Rowland and I thought it would be fun to hire rowing blazers and boater hats. It was an amazing celebration, and we were by far the best dressed. I think we had a few beers that day.

The other picture is from 2017, and is on the occasion of my 60th birthday. I had asked Michel to write the introduction to my book and this was a quiet moment prior to the book launch dinner. I was in London when Sarah rang me and asked whether I had seen an email from Michel saying “Have you read the introduction?” I remember exactly where I was. I stopped and read it. “Bloody hell!” I said, “This book better be good to live up to

the billing given by your Dad!”

We had many proud moments together even after I left the Waterside, some of the best times were in Athens at The Metropolitan. We always did a hard day, and then about 5 o’clock Michel would ask “Gin and tonics?” We would jump in a taxi to the Hotel Grande Bretagne overlooking the Acropolis and enjoy a couple of large ones watching the sun go down. In Athens the pressure seemed to be off and we shared some lovely moments together. I still miss him, and I think about him every day.

Une vraie legende

Par PIERRE-HENRY GAGEY, président de Louis Jadot

J’ai rencontré Michel Roux pour la première fois en 1985, lors d’un dîner avec mon père et ma mère au restaurant Le Petit Truc à Côte de Beaune; ce restaurant était tenu par une cheffe délicieuse et talentueuse dont le nom était Édith Remoissenet.

Michel, qui faisait partie avec mon père du Benedict Club, était formidable; toujours élégant, positif, drôle, entrepreneur, à la voix suave et délicate, charmeur, toujours attentionné, ne laissant passer aucun détail, d’une fiabilité absolue et d’une fidélité sans faille. Nous ne nous sommes jamais quittés, nous voyant de temps à autre en France ou en Angleterre, en Bourgogne, dans le Sud de la France à Gassin, en croisière parfois.

Bien sûr, Le Waterside Inn lui fût son œuvre la plus aboutie, son coin de paradis où il accueillait ses clients et ses amis avec une gentillesse extraordinaire.

Il aimait les vins, il aimait la vie qu’il déguwstait avec passion. Il était infatigable et tellement heureux que son fils Alain ait prit avec talent sa succession

▴ ROW THE BOAT: Michel and Mark Dodson with friends on a river cruise
◂ JUDGE AND JURY: Michel with fellow judges of the Roux Scholarhip


The past 36 years were full of magical and memorable times I spent with both Michel and Albert. Having had the joy of working for them – both in running the contracting side of their business, and then being their MD of Roux Restaurants for 11 years – it was an added pleasure to stay in close touch through my years working for Her Majesty The Queen. There were several notable occasions throughout that time that I know formed special memories for Michel, with invitations sent to Her Majesty over her Jubilees that led to private dinners for The Queen and members of the Royal Family at the Waterside Inn in both the private dining room and the restaurant. Michel was always so gracious, generous and honoured to receive Her Majesty.

I also remember a very special evening spent with Michel and Robyn (on none other than Valentine’s day in 2014) when they joined Jane and me for a celebration of a rather important birthday of mine, with tickets to the Royal Box at the Albert Hall for a performance of the Cirque du Soleil followed by a small private reception in the Royal Ante Room.

High praise

You could say that behind the complexity of his character and his amazing skills and knowledge, Mr Roux

always ready to teach to everyone. I could only admire the fact that he was self-made and that all his achievements were the fruit of his hard work, talent and charisma.

During all those years at the Waterside Inn, he taught me so much and praised me even more. On numerous occasions he would tell me that the preparation I made was the best he ever had, I am not sure it was the very truth, but it certainly meant that I’ve done an excellent job and it meant a lot. I tend to copy him when I’m giving feedback.

On other occasions, he would praise a new dish and sometimes a week later give you a phone call telling you to make changes to it. He was a thinker and he took everything seriously, always trying to improve the best and make it into something unforgettable.

I have very fond memories of Michel. He taught me a lot about restaurants, and I've always held on to his main lesson that you've got to make the customer happy. He was a great employer and a mentor, but also a friend.

I remember once when I was going on holiday, he told me to go and eat at a top restaurant, with three Michelin stars, and bring him the bill. I also remember his ready smile and his sense of fun. In French, we'd say his joie de vivre. But it was more than that. His was a generosity of spirit that we all valued, and one that we all miss.

A hare’s breadth

I was very fortunate to be invited to the south of France to Mougins for a weekend. We were hosted by Chris Levett in his stunning

house. There were two other couples – one of which was Michel and Robyn Roux. It was a culinary gastro bonanza trip, visiting restaurants for lunch and dinner.

One lunch took place at the La Colombe d’Or in Saint-Paul-deVence. Our host had called ahead to say that Michel was going to be there. I didn’t think was that necessary, but it was polite to inform the chef. We sat down and were treated to some amazing wines that Michel had chosen – not the expensive wines, but the little-known ones on the list, from producers he knew. We had our starters and then the main arrived. To my horror Michel, who had ordered the hare, beckoned the waiter over to the table. I was not sure what was going to happen next – surely this couldn’t be going more wrong for the chef. Michel, though, very discreetly and politely suggested that we would like the back legs, not the front. ‘Phew!’ I thought. The situation was recovered, and we enjoyed a fantastic lunch followed by a walk through the town afterwards stopping at his friend’s venue, Hôtel Le Saint-Paul, where the owner appeared and greeted us with an exquisite bottle.

We have for a long time enjoyed Michel’s and Alain’s company at Bighton to shoot, and Michel was a longstanding and adored regular member of our partridge club. At the end of the day, it was always a pleasure to see Michel load the car up with partridges in the feather to take back to the Waterside (although I’m not sure the junior chefs felt the same!). Occasionally I would get the keepers to rifle shoot a brace of hare, which he so enjoyed and treasured, to take back. We all miss him terribly. He was a great friend to us and I feel it was one of life’s greatest pleasures to have spent some truly amazing times with him.

His man Friday

I worked for Mr Roux for 14 years. When I first came to England from Poland – like Mr Roux when he first arrived in UK – I knew no English. He took me on and I had to learn fast. Mr Roux was a tireless perfectionist, and secondbest was no good, so I developed a second sense enabling me to judge his moods as I tried to stay one step ahead to survive. My role has always been busy and varied. I’m a gardener, driver, painter –you name it, I do it. But over the years with Mr Roux, it became more than that. I became his ‘man Friday’ – a loyal right-hand man. A busy, globetrotting chef with many interests, homes, and commitments, I chauffeured him everywhere, particularly back and forth from Heathrow and even to his house in the south of France. We must have spent hundreds of hours together over the years. He was always late, so most trips –especially to the airport – were a nerve-shattering race! And coming back the same since he always had a meeting or event to get straight back to.

A keen gun, Mr Roux had a ↘

au Avec son frère Albert, Michel a porté à bout de bras la gastronomie française au Royaume-Uni.
always gave me the impression that he was a simple man – he was easily approachable and understood people, never short of a word of advice and
Insp I rat I on MICHEL ROUX OBE 31
He was self-made; his achievements were the fruit of hard work, talent and charisma

↘ busy agenda of shoots every season and I particularly loved accompanying him to them. He was at his happiest and most relaxed then. I used to look after his guns and load the birds in the boot to take back for the chefs to use in the kitchen. He loved Royal Ascot too, and I remember collecting him each time, a little tipsy with tie and top hat askew, maybe, laughing all the way home with his guests and Mrs Roux. Another good memory was trying to teach him Polish in preparation for when he was invited as a special guest judge on MasterChef Poland, a very popular show there. I enjoyed teaching him something, for a change! And my family in Poland were so excited to see him on screen, the boss who I had talked about so often.

I probably didn’t fully realise what he meant to me until he died. I felt at a loss for a long time. He was a tough taskmaster, but generous and caring. I lost a father figure and a true friend. There will never be another like him.

The family album

For a man to whom it was impossible to say no, a charming and charismatic presence that just made you smile, and a great supporter of our whole industry.

Once at the annual chef golf day at Turnberry, along with Brian Turner and others, a guest arrived from the States, and we had arranged previously for the kitchen to stay open for him to have a bit of supper. When they arrived, the kitchen was closed. Or so we thought… Michel said “Leave it to me.” And without arrogance he went into the kitchen and moments later with his sleeves rolled up, and reappeared

with a dozen oysters, shallot sauce and bread. We didn’t learn what conversations went on inside the Turnberry kitchen that evening but we are sure that story has circulated many times.

Another occasion, at our Aubrey Allen golf day, a nervous golfer approached Michel and said, “I have the very great honour of playing with you today.” With a slight bow and outstretched hand Michel turned to him and said “No, it is I who have the honour to play with you.” Jamie, the chef, was a huge fan and had brought his At Home with the Roux Brothers book for Michel to sign. Michel left without having had the chance to sign it but two weeks later Jamie received a book to his address signed by the whole of the Waterside team – now if that isn’t style, what is?

Finally, we were delighted when Michel agreed to be our guest of honour and speaker at our 80th year celebrations at the Butcher’s Hall in London. His presence lifted the whole occasion. He thrilled one guest who had brought his homemade horseradish for Michel to try with compliments on the sauce, and then wowed the room full of guests as he rose to speak.

A summary of the speech: “I know when I am abroad that the best meat is being supplied to The Waterside Inn. There are lots of similarities between

our businesses – both family businesses always striving to be the best and never thinking we have made it. When you think you have made it in business, it is time to shut your door. In fact,” he said, with a glint and a smile, “you probably should have done it two or three doors before.”

Michel Roux was a great supporter of our family business and had an impact on our people and how we do things. Photos of Michel enjoying a glass and laughing, or chatting about golf, adorn our walls. He is very much part of our family album.

Straight shooting

I very much miss Michel, who was such a loyal, generous friend to me over 40 years, during which time we shot together every year, on both formal driven days and also just the two of us shooting pigeons on local farmland.

We first met in 1982. Michel wanted to buy a nice handmade British gun from me and we negotiated a deal which included a meal for my girlfriend and me at The Waterside Inn. During the course of this meal, I proposed to my girlfriend, who accepted and later became my wife.

Shortly afterwards I invited Michel to shoot with me at home, and he asked if he could bring Robyn. He then phoned a few days later to say that that his mother Germaine was staying, and could he bring her too? I was delighted to meet her as I understood she was a great influence on Michel’s cooking and we all enjoyed a great day together.

On another occasion I took Michel pigeon roost shooting, but not many were there so when he stayed for a bowl of butternut squash soup, we opened a bottle of Mouton Rothschild 1977.

Michel was such a great enthusiast and always the perfect guest – even when the shoot lunch was a humble shepherd’s pie he would always ask for a second

helping, which made my wife feel very special!

New suede shoes

We have so many happy memories of ‘Mimi’ Roux, but one stands out.

Michel and Robyn came for ‘a quiet’ dinner chez-nous with Christian and Lindsey Germain. We were talking about lovely friends of ours who lived just a few minutes away. Michel insisted that he call them to have dinner with us. “They sound like fun,” he said. Mimi decided that Berni’s new cream suede shoe would be the desired mode of telecommunication.

“No problem,” I said. Our friends arrived, and Mimi decided that champagne should be drunk from the aforementioned shoe –which was then ruined, of course!

What did my wife say the following morning at breakfast?

“Only Michel Roux could get away with it! What’s a shoe or two? He is the most adorable, charismatic man. He has incredibly twinkly eyes and the sexiest voice, and he can cook! He makes every woman feel that she is ‘simply the best’.”

This is how we’ll always remember him.

As if by magic…

Life as a Roux is made up of wonderful food memories and for me they go all the way back to when I was a toddler – probably about 4 or 5 years old. My father was working as a private chef at the Fairlawne estate and my uncle Michel would frequently come and visit to use the kitchen to practise his sugar work.

I remember the smell and sound of the caramel, and

Michel decided that champagne should be drunk from the aforementioned shoe

my uncle producing the most beautiful flowers, fruit and lifelike figurines as if by magic. To me he was a wizard, and every now and then when the petal of a rose was not up to his exacting standard I was the lucky recipient of the most beautiful sweet treat.

A trip de France

The following is an excerpt of telephone conversations.

The evening before, a call from Michel:

MR: “Bonsoir mon petit chef, I’m driving from the UK to the south of France, to my property in Gassin, with our dog, to open up the house.”

(Robyn was flying.)

“I’ll be with you in Montreuil, quite early, at around 6pm. “A bite to eat, a glass or two of wine, a few reminisces and laughs together, then dodo (sleep) for me, as I will be off in the morning at 8am!” 6pm the next day.

MR: “Chef! I’m just emerging from the Channel Tunnel… Do I turn right or left?”

CG: “Bonsoir Michel. Turn right, follow the sign for the A16 motorway, go straight down and take exit 25, where you will see a sign for Montreuil. You know the way from there.”

MR: “OK mon petit père, merci, et a toute à l’heure.” 7pm.

MR: “Chef, I appear to be in Belgium. La Panne?! I must have turned left instead of right. Bon sang de bon Dieu, I’ll be late for dinner!”

CG: “Yes, indeed you will! Turn around and drive down the motorway in the opposite direction. I’ll be waiting for you. You will arrive around 9pm – still

time for a quick bite together.”

I hoped that he didn’t take the A26 and find himself in Reims.

But after all the confusion, Michel finally arrived at Chateau de Montreuil, at around 10pm that evening. We sat down to dinner, and as usual, chatted and joked and enjoyed some exceptionally delicious vintage claret that my wine waiter brought us up from my private cellar, reserved for very special people such as Michel.

1am, both sleepy, and more than a little merry (we managed to find a bottle of his favourite Yquem to finish off our evening with) we finally managed to fall into our beds. It goes without saying, that the next morning, his departure was somewhat delayed. After coffee and homemade croissants, I waved him off on his journey, having given him precise driving instructions, and we both chuckled, with deep affection at the day before’s fiasco. Blow me down, if half an hour later: My telephone rang: MR: “Mon petit père ! I’m on the A16 motorway alright, but I’m in Boulogne sur Mer!

Still, all’s well that ends well. I recall that he seemed, somehow, to have arrived at his Mas in Gassin safely and soundly, but not until long after his scheduled arrival, some 24 hours later!

An affectionate souvenir

It was a busy Sunday lunchtime in the springtime, and my wife Lindsay, was in the front-of-house at The Waterside Inn, greeting guests and taking the orders.

On Sundays, we always had a delicious roast of some kind on the silver doomed trolley which was wheeled with ceremony, around the dining room from table to

table. Sometimes it would be lamb en Croûte with chicken mousse and mint stuffing, or some sort of special beef or veal (an unusual meat in those days in the UK), but this particular Sunday, it was a delicious Baron of baby lamb, served whole.

I was heading up the kitchen, and Michel was on the pass. After taking the orders, Lindsay went around the dining room, chatting to customers. Michel, who loved nothing better than leaving the kitchen to interact with guests and make sure they were enjoying everything, dashing back in and out, left the pass and went out into the dining room.

He joined Lindsay in front of

table four, chatting to the lunching couple. The trolley was beside the table, waiting to be served. As the head waiter was otherwise occupied, Michel took the knife, and started carving the Baron of lamb for them. With his delicious French charm and wonderful accent, he smiled at the pair and asked the lady “Now, madame, ’ow do you prefer your baron –nice and pink?” Lindsay could hardly contain herself, and trying not to overflow with giggles, she attempted to discreetly signal to Michel that one of the guests was in fact a baroness by marriage –and yes, she did indeed like her baron “nice and pink”.

We’ll never forget that one!

He was a father figure and a true friend. There will never be another like him
Insp I rat I on MICHEL ROUX OBE 33
▸ TIME IN THE SUN: Michel at home in Gassin, in the south of France

The truth is in the glass

A fixture on the wine list for decades, Château Palmer is a wine with an enviable heritage and an exciting modern story. BE n WI nstan LEY sits down with CEO Thomas Duroux to discuss his story, Bordeaux and working with The Waterside Inn


t as K yourself how Thomas Duroux, CEO of Château Palmer and one of the most respected voices on the Left Bank of Bordeaux, began his journey into the world of wine. Perhaps he came from a family of winemakers, or he grew up in the grounds of one of the many famous Châteaux in the region? As it turns out, Duroux’s story is little different from how you or I first discovered alcohol: by pilfering some from unsuspecting grown-ups in the spirit of teenage experimentation. In other words, this esteemed winemaker was getting drunk.

A 16-year-old Duroux would go round a friend’s house and steal a bottle or two of wine from the cellar before sneaking off for his first taste of forbidden booze. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t long before he and his accomplice were caught, but rather than scold them, his friend’s father decided to educate them about wine. He told the young thieves: “Your problem isn’t that you want to drink, it’s that you don’t know what you’re drinking.” And with that he took the young adults on a whirlwind tour of many different wines and their respective personalities. Rather than locking the cellar, he opened the door to a world of possibility for Duroux: a path that led the Bordeaux teenager to study agricultural engineering at school and, ultimately, to the gates of Château Palmer.

Duroux arrived at the Margaux property in 2004 as a 33-year-old “technical guy” without previous experience of running any estate, let alone a famed Third Growth Château. But Palmer’s owners took a chance on a fiercely passionate winemaker whose natural instincts were influenced by his time working in vineyards from Tokaj to Tuscany. Suffice it to say, 18 years later, they made the right decision. In his tenure overseeing Château Palmer, Duroux has cultivated the property by transitioning it into a 100% biodynamic operation. As a scientist, the decision was borne from a desire to experiment, but so profound was the impact on the wine itself, it soon became the philosophy at the heart of Duroux’s operation; a tremendous change for an estate that dates back to the 17th century. Nowadays, the Grand Vin de Château Palmer – famed for its equal-parts blend of merlot and cabernet sauvignon, atypical in Left Bank

Bordeaux – and the property’s second label, Alter Ego, are spoken of in the same breath as their close neighbour Château Margaux. The château’s relationship with The Waterside Inn began while Michel Roux still manned the pass, but has continued to flourish under the eye of Alain Roux and Frédéric Poulette. We chatted to Duroux to find out more about this special partnership and about his journey through wine.

BEN WINSTANLEY: Could you tell us a bit more about your personal story?

THOMAS DUROUX: My passion for wine started years ago in a fun way. I was 15 or 16 and my best friend’s father had an incredible cellar. And with my buddy, as young kids, we wanted to experience alcohol. This man, at a certain point, understood that we were stealing bottles from his cellar. He took the two of us aside and said, “I know what you are doing. We have a big problem. Our problem is that you have no idea what you’re drinking. We’re going to taste these wines together.” We were introduced by this man to the magic of wine, travelling and meeting personalities and people. It really opened my world. I didn’t know at that time that it would become my job but that’s where everything started. To make a long story short, after my studies, I had a lot of opportunities to travel the world. I went to very exotic locations, such as Tokaj in ↘

▴ THE MASTER: CEO Thomas Duroux has presided over an exciting period in the winemaker’s history (cellar) Antoine de Tapol; (Thomas) Olivier Metzger
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◂ TO THOSE WHO WAIT: Work goes on in the ageing cellar, where Château Palmer’s wines are matured in oak barrels for 18 months
▴ A DAY IN THE LIFE: [clockwise from left] The beautiful property in Margaux; a worker in the vineyard; a bottle of Château Palmer’s flagship wine; the cellar; grapes picked during the harvest

↘ Hungary, California, Montpellier in the south of France, and South Africa. Finally, when I was in Montpellier, I worked for the Mondavi family, a Californian family. In 2001, Tim Mondavi’s family were copartners at Ornellaia in Bolgheri and they asked me to move to Tuscany to become the winemaker of Ornellaia. That was a dream for me because I’m half-Italian. My mum is from Modena in Emilia-Romagna and my grandfather had a lot of land a long time ago, including a vineyard. To be able to go back to Italy and to work in the vineyard was really a fabulous thing. I did those three years at Ornellaia as a winemaker, before I was asked by the owners of Château Palmer to join and become the CEO of this beautiful estate.

BW: You accumulated a wealth of knowledge from elsewhere before joining Château Palmer. Has that influenced your wine here?

TD: Definitely. To travel the world, to be exposed to different cultures and approaches to winemaking is a fabulous thing when you’re young and open to inspiration. On the other hand, because I was born and I grew up in Bordeaux, I also knew what conservatism was, so I was able to play with the best of the two: to have this freedom that was given by my travels and to have also the respect of history by knowing how Bordeaux works.

BW: Many of The Waterside Inn’s customers will have tried Château Margaux during their life, but perhaps not as many that will have tasted Château Palmer. What are some of the differences between yourself and your neighbours in Margaux?

TD: These two estates are the two most famous in the appellation. They are very representative of the appellation, but in very different ways. Château Margaux has a large majority of cabernet sauvignon. In a classic blend of Château Margaux it’s 90% or 95% cabernet sauvignon. That gives a lot of purity, a lot of finesse, the beauty. At Château Palmer we have a much higher percentage of merlot, we have almost the same percentage of merlot as cabernet sauvignon. We have a lot of very old merlot located on top terroir while in most of the properties of the

Margaux population or the Médoc region, the best terroir is always kept for cabernet sauvignon. That gives to Palmer something very specific, which is not only the precision, the finesse of the great cabernet sauvignon, but also a very unique touch that is given by those very old merlot on the top terroir. Margaux and Palmer are the two different expressions of an appellation. We, of course, have slight differences in our terroir, but mostly this is the idea. There’s a lot of finesse attached to Margaux, and a lot of definition attached to Palmer. Many times I have compared between vintages, Margaux and Palmer, and it’s extraordinary to see the two styles of those wines. It’s impossible to say, this is better, this is worse. The two are fabulous expressions of this appellation.

BW: I think for many modern winemakers, that’s part of the frustration of the firstgrowth versus second- and third- growth argument. More than anything, it just confuses things rather than actually truly promoting the terroir, or indeed greatness.

TD: For us, it’s not an issue. Classified growth is not even written on our label because we don’t really care. We were sub-growths in 1855. We are now what people want us to be. The 1855 classification is like a noble title: you can be born a duke and be beautiful and super smart, or you can be born as a duke and be ugly and very stupid. It’s just a title.

BW: Alter Ego is currently on the wine list at The Waterside Inn. In contrast to your neighbors in Bordeaux, it’s not a ‘second wine’, but something else entirely. Could you explain how important Alter Ego is to you?

TD: A ‘second wine’, classically, is just the leftovers. You take all the best for the Grand Vin, and the leftover goes into the second wine. That’s not the way we work here at Château Palmer. We try to work deeply into the land, considering the potential of our terroir. To make it simple, all our soils are gravel soils. We have a lot of different types of gravel soils, but they are mostly balanced in two main groups. One would be a gravel soil that we would call light gravel soil with a bit more sand and others are gravel soil

with a bit more clay. The gravel soil with a bit more clay is what we use for Château Palmer. That’s where we find the depth and the power. The lighter gravel soil is the one we use for Alter Ego, which gives to Alter Ego a very true and precise expression of the Margaux terroir. It’s not exactly the same approach. The Grand Vin de Château Palmer is Palmer, Alter Ego is the Margaux by Château Palmer, if you want.

BW: Does The Waterside Inn have a special place in your heart after all these years?

TD: Château Palmer and The Waterside Inn go back a long way! It was always a pleasure to welcome Michel Roux and Claude Grant to the château, who would come year-in year-out, to taste the new vintage from the barrel during En Primeur Week - and this year Claude came back with Alain Roux and Frédéric Poulette, carrying on the tradition. They were very kind in inviting us to celebrate the restaurant’s 50th birthday. A stunning dinner, accompanied by multiple vintages of Palmer, enjoyed by 50 guests. What a night that was!

BW: Is there anything on The Waterside Inn’s wine list right now that you’d recommend to guests when they come and dine?

TD: We re-release a ten-year-old vintage every September: this year, the 2012 is being re-released. It’s such a fabulous wine, that you can start drinking now, but will age marvelously well. I am sure that this will be listed at the restaurant when it comes back onto the market. The Waterside Inn also has a few bottles of our white wine, Vin Blanc de Palmer, produced in tiny quantities with quirky grape varieties, and which is only sold in the very best restaurants in the world.

Michel Roux and Claude Grant would come year-in year-out to taste the new vintage from the barrel during en-primeur week
Insp I rat I on CHÂTEAU PALMER 37
Olivier Metzger

Of mice and men

As a family-owned brand with an unerring focus on quality and craft, Robert Thompson’s has much in common with The Waterside Inn.

MarK HEDLEY uncovers the heritage behind the brand – and takes a peek at a new collaborative piece

David Harrison

DECa DE s aG o, CHEF Alain Roux received a Robert Thompson’s chopping board as a gift from a friend. He still uses it in his home to this day. The trademark wooden mouse carved along one edge is a regular conversation starter – especially when cutting cheese. You can now buy a similar one for yourself from The Waterside Inn with Alain’s name engraved on it for good measure. But what’s the story behind the mischievous mouse?

One of the most famous icons in British furniture making was actually born out of some harmless work banter. The year was 1919: a young joiner named Robert Thompson was working with colleagues to refurbish a local parish church in Kilburn, North Yorkshire. Thompson’s apprentice was on his hands and knees fitting some panelling behind an altar when a mouse came running out. He fell back in shock, and his colleagues couldn’t help but tease him for being frightened of a church mouse, accusing him of making the poor rodent homeless. One of the joiners hid the apprentice’s sandwiches that lunchtime, claiming the mouse must have eaten them.

Thompson, who was known for his sense of humour, came in early the following day and carved a mouse onto one of the church beams. “Oh look!” he exclaimed to the apprentice, pointing to the carving. “Seems like your mouse has found a new home.”

The joke ran its course, but Thompson continued carving mice back at his workshop. At first, just for fun, but it wasn’t long before clients began requesting them.

Five years later, he registered the carved mouse as a trademark; Thomson had officially become The Mouseman. Incidentally, it was the exact same day that car company MG registered its logo – and by this point, Thompson’s career was motoring.

Fast forward five generations, and Simon Thompson Cartwright is regaling this anecdote in the Robert Thompson’s museum in Kilburn. Standing among vintage pieces made by generations of his family before him, he’s understandably proud of his great-

great-grandfather, and the legacy he left.

From Eton College to Cambridge University, York Minster to Westminster Abbey, that mouse has found a home in some of the world’s most impressive establishments. Even the speaker’s chair of the Nepalese government has one running across it. There are collectors of the brand across the world – one of the most prolific is another chef, Marco Pierre White, who has decked out his entire country pub with vintage pieces. While it’s clearly a passion, it’s an investment, too. As Cartwright explains: “We see items at auction that people bought in the 1950s and 1960s for £50-£100, and they’re now selling for up to £40,000.”

It’s fitting, then, that a bastion of wealth such as Rothschild & Co should commission Robert Thompson’s for a bespoke archive room at its City of London HQ. “The brief was a ‘James Bond lair’ – so it’s all hidden doors, bookshelves with secret compartments. It’s one of the first rooms you see on entering their building on St Swithin’s Lane.” The stunning floor-to-ceiling bookcases alone required 5,500 man hours to craft and the timber from 20 English oak trees.

Robert Thompson’s wouldn’t be the company it is today without that oak. First, each tree is personally inspected before purchase to ensure there are no defects such as frost, pests, rot or even lightning strike. The company sources felled oak trees from carefully managed estates in the north of England, staying close to their roots – quite literally. Opposite the Robert Thompson’s workshops, entire trees are laid down and stacked up, separated into segments as if pushed through a giant egg slice.

They’re stored and seasoned in the open air for four to five years. It’s a centuries-old technique that reduces the wood to only 12-14% water content – “the perfect ↘

Opposite the Robert Thompson’s workshops, entire trees are laid down and stacked up, separated into segments as if pushed through a giant egg slice
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◂ CARVING A PATH: [from left] This mouse carving has become a Robert Thompson’s signature; current owner Simon Thompson Cartwright; the workshop

↘ consistency for UK centrally heated homes,” explains Cartwright. It also produces a softer, more malleable material than the modern kiln-drying process. The latter takes just five weeks rather than five years, but the resulting wood is more brittle and likely to break. When you’re working with oak that might be 200 years old, this is considered an unacceptable risk.

If you really want a slice of history, the timberyard still has some wood from the

Great Storm of 1987, when an estimated 15 million trees – including six of the seven eponymous oaks in the town of Sevenoaks –were felled in England.

And air drying isn’t the only ancient tradition being kept alive here. Fans of Robert Thompson’s will be familiar with the honeycomb finish – particularly striking on its larger pieces. This rippled hexagonal effect is fashioned by a tool called an adze. Imagine an axe has mated with a chisel and you’re about there. The tool actually dates back to Ancient Egypt – with rudimentary versions discovered as far back as the Stone Age – and was adopted for efficiency and convenience. As Cartwright puts it, the result is “incredibly tactile; one of the first things you want to do when you see it is run your hands over it.”

Each Robert Thompson’s piece – from a simple pen tray to an elegant writing desk –is worked on by one craftsman from start to finish. There are 18 craftsmen here in total, including apprentices who work for four years before becoming fully qualified. “But even then, with cabinet making and joinery, you never stop learning,” says Cartwright. “The process is ongoing all the time, from new tools to new techniques.”

Robert Thompson’s produces a staggering 150 ‘standard’ items of furniture, but that’s just half of its business. Bespoke work comprises 25% and renovation and repair the remaining quarter.

Cartwright was drawn to the family calling from an early age: “I was six or seven when I got my first junior hacksaw and chisel set. I would hang out in Dad’s office where there was a vice and I’d pick a log out of the firewood pile. I’d pretend I was making a piece of furniture. At the end of the day, my dad would say, ‘Ah – that’s very good, Simon.’ And I’m sure once I’d gone to bed, he’d just chuck it on the fire.” However, his father didn’t pressurise him to follow in his footsteps – and Cartwright spent the first decade of his adult life as a professional Speedway rider, racing motorcycles and travelling Europe. “It’s only a short career, though. Too many broken bones.”

He retired at 27 and returned to learn every aspect of the family business –proving it on our visit with an impressive demonstration on the adze. Although there

are some concessions to modernity – designs are done by CAD (computer-aided design), not pen and set square – ultimately, it comes down to two things: legacy and quality.

With that in mind, it’s easy to see why the Roux family chose to work with Robert Thompson’s on producing its flagship chopping board – something so fundamental to a chef’s kitchen, as Laura Roux explains –for The Waterside Inn’s collection. “Just like Simon, Alain is protecting and continuing his father’s legacy and preserving skills and techniques to pass on to the next generation,” she says. “It’s a design that’s practical and beautiful. Each board has to act as a hardwearing base for heavy-duty carving, but look elegant in the setting of a kitchen and dining room. It’s a simple board but it defines their main design principles – crafting pieces that are practical but aesthetically pleasing and long-lasting, too.”

Laura reached out to Cartwright over email and explained how, with such synergies, a partnership was sure to be a success. “I was familiar with Alain’s work,” Cartwright explains. “But after going down and seeing what’s involved at The Waterside Inn, it was so inspiring. A lot of it transfers to what we do: like us, they are one big family; you can see it means everything to them. We’re all very passionate.”

After a couple of prototypes, the final board of the design was agreed upon; the order was placed; and on completion, Cartwright delivered them in person. “We’ve spent five generations building this brand yet staying true to traditional craftsmanship,” he says. “This is not something you find on the high street. Customers appreciate the effort that’s gone into it. It’s more than a piece of furniture to them; it’s a work of art.”

The Robert Thompson’s for Alain Roux chopping board is available for £395 from See it on page 93. ▴ A MOUSE IN THE HOUSE: Every piece of Robert Thompson’s includes the now iconic mouse, each one hand carved with delicate chisel work.
Seeing what’s involved at The Waterside Inn was so inspiring. Like us, they’re one big family; you can see it means everything to them
David Harrison
Insp I rat I on ROBERT THOMPSON’S 41
▴ WOOD WORK: [clockwise from top left] Simon showing his adze skills; a chair in the workshop; the engraving on the special edition chopping board; oak seasoning in the yard; Alain meeting Simon; more mouse carvings; chiseling a decorative panel

A certain ‘je ne sais quoi’...

Matching French chic with a natural eye for modern design, Laura Roux’s creative direction is crucial to The Waterside Inn’s contemporary identity. M o LLY Co DY r E talks to her about her journey in interiors and the role she plays in its evolution

I t Wo ULD BE safe to say that Laura Roux has interiors in her blood. Her father was a building engineer and property developer, and her mother spearheaded the design for his various projects. The family moved around a lot – living in ten properties in total throughout her childhood – which meant there was a never-ending procession of interior design inspiration to soak up. And, as a conversation with her attests to, that’s precisely what she did.

While Laura says this wasn’t something that impacted on her decision to start a career in interior design, she does admit that it helped shape her sense of style. “It was always something I enjoyed, but I was very lucky to live in lovely properties,” she says. “I think it does give you a love for it, and I could clearly see when something worked and when it didn’t. I was brought up by knowing what was good and what was bad, and it’s the same for food as it is for

interiors – when you’re used to eating really good food, you want to produce really good food yourself. It’s the same when you’ve been living in a nice property. You get a feel for it.”

It is this space between hospitality and interiors that seems to have marked Laura’s career path. While studying for a degree in hospitality management at the University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, Laura did a four-month placement at The Waterside Inn, where she worked across the dining room, reception and the bedrooms, a move she says helped with her return to the business.

It was during this placement that she met Alain Roux, but their relationship didn’t start until the following year, in 2005, when they reconnected while visiting family members in Paris. While Laura was carving out her own career, it ultimately made sense to ↘

▸ WHOSE HOUSE?: Laura Roux in a newly decorated summerhouse at The Waterside Inn
Ciaran McCrickard
Insp I rat I on LAURA ROUX 43

↘ bring her back into the family business, given her overlapping love for design and hospitality. “I’ve always been attracted to hotels. I thought at some point I wanted to be a head of housekeeping working in palaces, and I’ve always been drawn to interiors and bedrooms,” she says.

It seems fitting, then, that her entire domain now is the curation of these spaces, including bedrooms that just so happen to sit above one of the world’s best restaurants. While she credits her mother for laying the foundations for her knowledge of interior design – and in particular her love for mixing old and new pieces in one room – she has still had the space and time to carve out her own path and her own sense of style. “That’s something I’ve always liked, the mixing of styles, because I just think it’s reassuring. You’ve got something from the past with a story and then something that’s more contemporary looking. I like that mix because I think you don’t get bored of it.”

It is something that has particularly come in handy when designing for The Waterside Inn. Inevitably in a place with so much prestige and history, there is a

delicate balancing act between making sure loyal customers feel at home while still looking forward – and aiming to create a space that feels modern yet complementary to the venue’s past. “Customers who have been coming to us for years continue to do so because they love the place,” she says. “That means I don’t want to make radical changes to either the way we do things or the inherent character of our interiors. But we can do this through carefully choosing high-quality and beautifully made furniture, accessories and furnishings, which refresh and enhance the rooms without moving too far away from our existing style.

“The only pressure I have when I design the bedrooms is making sure there isn’t a disconnect between the building, the setting and the history. When people walk in the restaurant and go upstairs, they’re all guests of the restaurant, they’re all dining, so you have to keep that harmony between all the areas. It’s about making sure that they don’t walk into a room that could be ultra-modern, and then go downstairs and it’s too traditional. Then you would have that imbalance which I think could be very offputting for an overall experience. So I need to make sure that the journey is right.”

She uses the example of renovating the rooms above the restaurant. There were various elements from the original furnishings that Michel Roux was on record as being keen to keep, specifically the wooden beds. “You just have to work your scheme around it and say, OK, if we have those beds, which obviously look very traditional, then I can opt for some modern handles on the bedside tables and a contemporary lampshade.

|It’s about trying to sell an experience to the customer and trying to provide something different than what’s in their house. And you have to please all your guests, not just one customer. You can go for a much bolder wallpaper – something where it’s going to be ‘Oh, wow.’ – and maybe if you were living in it every day, you would get bored of it or you think it’s too heavy, but actually when it’s put in the context of a onenight stay, it adds up to a nice experience.”

Laura doesn’t go about the design and renovation process alone, however. And she

admits none of it would be possible without her working partnership with Shane Spiers, the company’s facilities manager. “Shane is absolutely brilliant,” says Laura. “He’s the one who turns all of my ideas into a reality.” It’s a partnership that benefits Laura’s creative process, allowing her someone to bounce ideas off and work with to reach an achievable end goal.

Shane is an experienced and skilled tradesman, and a true asset to the business. He first worked with The Waterside Inn in 2000 and, after running his own company for many years, joined permanently in 2015. This has in turn bolstered the creative side of his role, which is a new and motivating element. “Obviously, I have opinions about how things should look, but they’re not necessarily in keeping with a French three-star restaurant,” Shane says. “Laura and I have fairly similar tastes. A lot of stuff she picks stands.” Laura seconds this opinion. “I think we’re better as two brains than just one,” she says. “It’s great to have ideas, but they’re useless if you have no one to make them a reality.”

t HE I nt E raC t I on BE t WEE n French and British culture sits at the heart of The Waterside Inn – after all, it has always been a French restaurant run by a French family in the heart of the English countryside. Laura, having been raised and educated in France, furthers this connection with her approach to design. When I ask about bringing her French style into a British context, she answers “maybe by using British designers. In the recent renovations, I’ve put in some lights from Tom Raffield, hardware from Samuel Heath, and radiators from Bisque. It’s about combining those British elements with French designers, like Pierre Frey.”

When it comes to sourcing, she has a multi-pronged approach, and one that has had to adapt to the changes brought in ↘

▸ NEW LOOK: [above] The Waterside Inn’s new bedrooms have been painstakingly renovated according to Laura’s natural eye for interiors
Shane and I are better as two brains than just one. It’s great to have ideas, but they’re useless if you can’t make them a reality
Ciaran McCrickard
Insp I rat I on LAURA ROUX 45
▸ THE NEXT CHAPTER: [clockwise from left] Laura’s work involves conceptualising spaces before they’re built; a chic light fitting; a newly decorated room
Handmade in England Landmark Pure Wall Mounted Basin Mixer in Polished Nickel @samuelheathofficial Showroom at Design Centre Chelsea Harbour

↘ by Brexit. “It involves hours of research,” she tells me. “I like to go to the Chelsea Harbour Design Centre, where you have all the shops in one place. And then going to the Conran Shop, Heals, all the big London shops, alongside companies like Pierre Frey and Designers Guild. For our next project, I’ve specified lighting from Porta Romana and J Adams & Co. I’ve found myself using British companies much more frequently after Brexit. For example, if something is in Birmingham, then there will be no issues with delays at customs. But I’m trying my best to use both French and British designers. Locally, I also use the services of

Ali at Urban Suite in Windsor and Fiona from The Window Wear Company in Maidenhead.”

In keeping with her process of contrasting old with new, she also seeks out antique items from various locations. “I love going to the auction room,” she tells me. “There’s one called Dawsons in Maidenhead, so I look at the catalogue every time it’s out. I’ve bought really nice lamps from there in the past. I think people are sometimes a bit scared – they just don’t know an auction is an acceptable way to buy. But I think it’s a lovely opportunity to obtain pieces that have a story and, again, sometimes they’re not too expensive – way less than if you were going to an antiques shop. I would definitely advise people to go to their local auction room, have a look, put in a closed bid and then don’t get driven and don’t go over your budget. It’s a lovely way to implement something interesting into your scheme.”

Perhaps the best way of summing up Laura’s creative process is the new chairs

that have just been bought for the dining room of The Waterside Inn. From the initial searches to the delivery, the whole process took around two years – including viewing samples from various designers, settling on a design, testing the shape, placing samples of the leather in the space, and generally getting a feel for how they’ll function for a diner who is often sitting in them for upwards of two hours. They settled on a chair from Pierre Frey, a French, family-run design house with a showroom in London.

“I find if you rush, you make a mistake,” says Laura. “The thing I’ve learned is to take the time. Live with your samples, put things on the wall, look at them in different lights. With the chairs, we lived with one and tried it again and again. We showed it to different guests, team members, and they all came back with how they felt about the ↘

If you rush you make mistakes. The thing I’ve learned is to take the time and live with your samples
▸ TWO’S COMPANY: Shane Spiers and Laura Roux collaborate on renovations and new developments

↘ product. I think we’ve made the right choice. They’re a great example of what I’m trying to achieve. It’s the best leather you can use, it’s a family business, like us, and they have that quality and uniqueness that make them timeless. Anyone can look at them and you can’t really date them. You can’t say they’re old or new; they’re just perfect.”

It is this attention to detail and drive to ensure every last detail is considered that

makes Laura the perfect person to spearhead the creative process at The Waterside Inn. Whether it’s the restaurant itself, the bedrooms or their new project, the cookery school, Laura is constantly tinkering away with designs and products until she builds a space that seems both faultlessly designed and full of intrigue. She shows samples for the disabled toilets at the cookery school, pointing out various elements of tiles and wallpaper that made her want to tie them together. Even in a room as seemingly forgettable as a bathroom, she has paid the utmost attention. “I try to tell a story to the people that are going to come into the space. I wanted them to walk into the loo and say ‘Oh, wow!’ – to look around and say ‘Oh, look at this curve,’ and walk out remembering. Not everything has to be for Instagram or

Do it yourself


■ Combine your style between contemporary and antiques. Antiques have a patina and a story that will add a layer of intrigue to your interiors. Don’t be afraid to look at your local auction room to find them!

■ Bronze and antique brass finishes add warmth to your interior and are practical in a bathroom, too.

■ Use redded glass instead of frosted glass for shower screen or an enclosed WC.

■ Setting carpet within a timber floor under a bed or coffee table to achieve a rug look can be both practical and economical.

■ In a small room, use a single colour on both walls and woodwork. The ceiling can also be the same colour.

■ Use wall lights or a ceiling pendant as opposed to table lamps to free up surface on your bedside tables.

■ In a small bathroom, keep the floor as empty as possible, and use wall mountings for vanities.

■ Reupholster old furniture to give it a new lease of life.

■ Add trimmings to a plain curtain to add a sense of luxury and style, like in our Mallard bedroom.

Pinterest – it’s about creating a memory.” And create a memory she does. While The Waterside Inn is rightfully renowned for its incredible food, both under the stewardship of the great Michel Roux and now with Alain at the helm, it’s undeniable that a special dining experience is defined not just by what is on the plate, but by the space you’re in and the people you encounter while you’re there. For Laura, her life is all about building this experience, and leaving customers with a story. “It’s about making sure that in five or ten years’ time I’ll still be here, and I’ll walk in the room thinking ‘Oh, I still love it.’ This timelessness is at the forefront of everything we do.”

I try to tell a story to people coming into the space. It’s not about Instagram or Pinterest – it’s about creating a memory
Ciaran McCrickard

“In Nick McColgan and Snug Kitchens, we have found a level of passion, design acumen, dedication to quality and impeccable service that beats the competition hands down. It is their consistent attention to the tiniest details and intuitive ease in interpreting our vision that makes them the perfect match for us. Thank you Snug!”

(Alain Roux)

To discuss your project: 01635 30060

Domestic kitchens with a professional feel

52 Alain Roux

60 Signature dishes

70 James Martin

76 The ultimate experience


Ian Dingle

▸ HOME AWAY FROM HOME: Alain in the kitchen at The Waterside Inn, where he’s worked as chef patron since taking over from his father Michel in 2001

The next chapter...

Having been chef patron for more than two decades, Alain Roux is used to being the driving force in the restaurant’s kitchen. Two years after his father’s passing and with Michel’s presence still keenly felt, he talks to Caro LY n B oYD about what’s next

t HE r E ar E n ’ t M an Y chefs who can claim their first foray in restaurants came quite so young, but at just six months old Alain Roux was already a fixture at Le Gavroche. “My mum used to keep me behind the bar in my little bed and go and do her shopping,” he laughs, as we discuss his 38-year career on the weeping willow-shaded veranda of The Waterside Inn. “Between the restaurant manager and the barman, they used to keep an eye on me in my little cot.”

It’s hard to say whether this early introduction was the very start of Alain’s love of cooking and restaurants, but his life-long dedication to excellence has certainly served him well. The Waterside Inn’s three Michelin stars have been retained for 38 years – the longest any restaurant outside France has held such an accolade. And while Alain is long reputed to be one of Britain’s very best chefs, he acknowledges there is an enormous team effort behind it all: “Nothing is achieved alone in our industry,” he says. “Even my dad used to say that and it’s true. It’s not a

one-man show. My dad always had a head chef. Always.” Yet excellent teams come from excellent leadership and Alain Roux has been leading the team as chef patron of The Waterside Inn since 2001, with the support of his father’s wealth of experience and insight until his passing in 2020. With the pandemic having halted operations on and off for two years, Alain is now leading his teams into a new era, continuing the renown and prestige of the restaurant. This is alongside the success of the Brasserie Roux at Skindles in Taplow; the new residency at Le Normandie at the Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok; and his plans to open a new culinary school and a library dedicated to Michel in his father’s former residence.

WI t H s UCH a long career spent here, however, it’s easy to forget that before he arrived back in Britain having returned to France as a child, Alain Roux had already gained experience in some of France’s finest culinary establishments, starting with an

apprenticeship under the renowned pâtissier Denis Ruffel at Pâtisserie Millet in Paris, where he started at 16. “Everything was homemade, classic, traditional,” he says. “At that time, it was certainly producing the best up to date recipes and creations. It was the place in Paris, perhaps even in France.”

Having completed his apprenticeship, Alain then spent the next six years in the kitchens of some of France’s most esteemed restaurants, including the three-Michelinstarred Restaurant Pic in Valence with chefs Alain and Jacques Pic, La Bonne Étape in Château-Arnoux in Provence, and La Côte Saint Jacques in Burgundy. ↘

My mum used to keep me behind the bar in Le Gavroche when I was a child. The staff used to keep an eye on me in my cot
Lateef Okunnu In DE pt H ALAIN ROUX 53

↘ He also did a year’s national service working as a cook for French president François Mitterrand at the Élysée Palace. Throughout this time, his knowledge of techniques and ingredients was growing, especially given how varied French cuisine is in its various regions. “There’s always something more, something different to learn. And there’s so many different ways of preparing and working on fish, meat or vegetables,” he says. “Sometimes little changes make quite a difference to the dish. That’s one of the most beautiful things in our job: you are always learning, always.”

Although many of the techniques he was learning were new to him, aspects of the operational side were familiar. “All the restaurants I worked in were family businesses. Most of them had various family members who were all involved in the business somewhere, and some were big families,” he says. Although they varied greatly in size, “some had just a handful of people as the whole team, and some others were huge. When I was at Restaurant Pic in 1987, there must have been 50 people in the kitchen. We used to cater to 180 to 200 covers in a service.”

BY 1992, WHE n Alain was aged 24, his desire to get to know the father whom he had grown up largely without led him back to Britain, the country of his birth, and he took a role of demi chef de partie at The Waterside Inn. “These days you would never see a chef with eight years’ experience coming into any restaurants in this country for a demi chef de partie job, they would laugh at you,” he explains. “At that time, it was normal. And it was better that way. If you come from a solid grounding like that, it is better to when you get a promotion. It’s much easier. Some people start at too advanced a position and then end up struggling, because they can’t cope – they can’t do the job.”

While he was more than capable of the work required, there were other challenges he had to face – namely getting to know his father. “I knew it was going to be a challenge because I’d never worked with Dad. I had a

relationship where, as a father and son, we didn’t really know each other. So, basically, we had to make up for all the lost time. And my job was to do it The Waterside Inn way.”

This, of course, can go two ways: either the father is too soft on the son or, as in the case with Michel and Alain, he is even tougher. “We had some bad days. And we had to have a few talks in his office. He was a bit harder on me than other young chefs or the rest of the team, which is very old-school. But I think it was the right way to do it,” he says. “Some of the brigade were suspicious of me too, thinking I was spying on them or trying to take their job. It took me three years to figure out it was a good move.”

As time went on, the father and son grew closer and Alain climbed the ranks in the kitchen brigade. Around six years in, Alain finally felt he knew his father thanks to a twist of fate. It happened while head

working alongside each other in the kitchen for nearly a decade, the long-serving head chef Mark Dodson left for pastures new and Michel also decided he had other work to do.

At this point, Alain was named chef patron of The Waterside Inn. “My dad said ‘Well, that’s it – I’m stepping out of the kitchen, too. It’s perfect timing if you’re confident enough to take over,’” says Alain, relishing the memory. “I thought, ‘Gosh, that’s it – he’s really putting some trust in me. And he’s giving me a greater challenge than I’ve ever had before’.”

Fast ForWar D to 2022 and, despite the challenges of the last two years, the future looks rosy. The family’s brasserie Roux at Skindles, which launched in late 2018, has found a place in the hearts of the local community in Taplow, just as the legendary hotel on the same site had for years before. “The history of Skindles is too big and too well known to have left the name behind,” says Alain. “The oldies have great memories of spending time at Skindles. Either dancing, eating or drinking, and even some swimming in the underground pools. I’m not sure how many bathing suits were worn either!” he says through a characteristic giggle.

chef Mark Dodson and his sous chef were both working on a Celebrity Cruises ship for ten days, while Michel was consultant chef for the company. “Dad lost his voice,” Alain recalls. “Totally lost it – not a sound. Can you imagine my dad not being able to shout or swear?” he laughs.

“At that time, I’d just been promoted to sous chef, so I had to run the pass with him because he couldn’t speak. We would look at each other, know what each other was thinking, and I would say what was required. I don’t think it would have worked with anyone else – there was this fatherson understanding between us. I know he was in pain, but even so, there were some fun moments, especially when things went wrong and he expected me to swear at the chefs or waiters as he would have done. I said ‘I’m not saying that! He’s too nice. I can’t!’ That was a big lesson, and a big joy.”

By 2001, Alain and Michel had been

Where there was once high revelry, there is now a sophisticated brasserie with a rooftop cocktail bar and a superb menu. “It’s very different from The Waterside Inn. We didn’t want to do a ‘Waterside mark two’, explains Alain. “It has a strong influence of French cooking but, saying that, there are no boundaries, so we take influences from all over when we want to, especially as head chef Raj Holuss is so accomplished. He was a sous chef at The Waterside Inn, and he’s got a background of working for Daniel Boulud in New York and John Williams at The Ritz.

“The food is simple, but what is the same as The Waterside is the ingredients. It’s fresh, cooked à la minute, whereas many other high-street brasseries rely on frozen ingredients cooked centrally in so-called ‘dark kitchens’. If it’s homemade, if it’s fresh, I don’t think you can beat it. Especially when its location is on the river in a beautiful setting and there’s a nice, friendly team.”

More recently, Alain has opened his residency at Le Normandie, the fine-dining ↘

Dad said ‘I’m stepping out of the kitchen. It’s perfect timing if you’re confident enough to take over’
◂ THE FLAME GAME: Alain flambés mushrooms in white port at service in The Waterside Inn’s kitchen



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Happy 50th Anniversary to The Waterside Inn team and Roux family. Congratulations and here’s to many more successful years.


↘ restaurant of the Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok. Set on the top floor of the hotel, it offers a heart-soaring view through its floor-to-ceiling windows of the River Chao Phraya and its Waterside Inn-inspired menus bring his exquisite haute cuisine to a new clientele. “It’s the restaurant in Bangkok. It’s got a history like no other restaurant there. And just after a month of us being there, the Michelin Guide came out and it was awarded two stars.” With the day-to-day running of the restaurant in the safe hands of head chef Phil Hickman, who ran Alain’s residency at

The Balmoral in Edinburgh, Alain goes to Bangkok for a fortnight four or five times a year, accompanied by his team from The Waterside Inn, namely chef Michael Nizzero and Frédéric Poulette. “We adapted the menu slightly, and tweaked a few things, but it’s pretty much as close as we can get to The Waterside Inn,” he says. “The clientele like to feel as though they’re travelling when they eat there, even if they’re still in their home city, and come to enjoy a style of cuisine, and ingredients they can’t find anywhere else.”

p E r H aps t HE Most challenging decision Alain has had to make since his father’s passing is what to do with Michel’s house.

It is adjacent to the restaurant, set slightly back from the river, and as such the residence is almost part of The Waterside Inn.

“I couldn’t see myself living there,” says Alain. “I’m happy where I live, but I couldn’t sell the house either because it’s too close to the business. So I thought, ‘Well, can it have a use for the business?’ So I looked into getting a Change of Use permit and I thought, ‘Well, if there’s one thing I would like to do it’s to continue Dad’s legacy, and my uncle Albert’s, too.’

“Dad loved libraries. He loved writing books. He wrote 18, which were translated into 14 different languages. He also had a nice personal collection of books by chefs from all over the globe, plus a few very old, rare books. So I thought, ‘Let’s use the main room, where Dad actually lived most of the time in the last few months, and call it Michel’s Library’.” In addition to Michel’s book collection, Alain has been discussing the collection of another chef: Andrew Fairlie. As the first ever winner of the Roux Scholarship in 1984, Andrew was, until his death in 2019, very close to the family’s heart. “I am in regular touch with his wife Katie, and I was telling her about my plans for the library. And she said, ‘While we’re talking about books, I’ve got a lot of Andrew’s books that I need to pass on.’ So I asked her if she wanted to add them to Michel’s library and she said yes.” For guests of The Waterside Inn, the chance to browse this exceptional collection of books will be a huge draw. “The restaurant guests can go before or after their lunch or during their stay. They can go there and just look, flick through a few books or they can read for a few hours. We’ll have a nice table, chairs and a sofa, so guests can be comfortable there for hours.”

Michel’s kitchen, too, is to have a new life and will be transformed into a culinary school, where The Waterside Inn’s chefs and front-of-house staff will train, and guests can come and learn a huge variety of skills and ↘

I thought if there was one thing I would like to do it’s to continue Dad’s legacy, and my uncle Albert’s, too
▸ RIVER VIEW: Alain looks across the Thames from one of The Waterside Inn’s old summer houses

↘ recipes, and combine them with a stay and a meal in the restaurant. With chef Michael Nizzero at the helm, with some demonstrations also by Alain and head chef Fabrice Uhryn, its teaching will be worldclass. “We’ll teach the basics, but also dishes and skills that are a bit more sophisticated, some classic specialities of the house. We’ll do some dessert pastries. And we’ll do some filmed demonstrations, too, and live cookalongs that we can share online,” explains Alain. While the visitors to the restaurant will benefit from his late father’s house, so too will the staff of The Waterside Inn. “It will be open for our team, front of house or kitchen, too. They will have full use of the library when they want and the culinary school will be a place where the staff can

learn,” says Alain. “The young chefs will get to learn whole dishes from me, or chef Michael or head chef Fabrice, and we can do one-to-one, or a small group of two or three chefs maximum, and the same with front-ofhouse. We can do a demonstration or all cook the dish together, and then taste it. We want to make sure that for our staff, their work is not only on the floor with the customers, but that they get something extra throughout the year; those special hours and minutes where we go further in depth and share our knowledge and passion. It will be a place where they have time to prepare dishes and deepen their knowledge of techniques, when usually they’re in a busy kitchen. Now they’ll be able to take the time. That’s my vision.

“Chefs who work here won’t just say in future that they’ve worked in the kitchen, or worked in every section. They’ll be able to say they’ve learned at the culinary school, training and following a development programme, with courses that are exclusive to our staff.” The Waterside Inn has always been a prestigious training ground for chefs and front-of-house staff, but the culinary school allows Alain to take this teaching to

new heights, preserving the future of young chefs and waiters for years to come.

With Alain’s wife Laura taking a more active role in the décor and development of the shop, and a new co-head chef Adam Wright in place to free up chef Fabrice for the culinary school, The Waterside Inn is in safe hands with the current generation of Rouxs. But what of the future? Alain and Laura’s children, Paul and Louise, are still too young at 11 and eight years old to know what their future holds, but they are starting to understand their family’s impact on the culinary scene. “They know that their name is quite famous in the food scene and that their grandfather was a star from watching him on TV,” says Alain. “They’ve realised because a lot of their school friends’ parents come to eat in the restaurant. Paul and Louise tell me ‘My friend’s parents are going to eat at your restaurant tonight, Dad,’ and they are hyped and excited about it. They’re very proud.” As a chef, but also a father, what better praise is there than that?

The Waterside Inn is a prestigious training ground, and the culinary school allows Alain to take this teaching to new heights
Jamie Lau
▸ FAMILY TIES: Alain and Michel share a moment on The Waterside Inn’s jetty before his passing

Six of the best

The menu at The Waterside Inn has changed over the decades, but some dishes have remained staples of the dining room. We break down some signatures of the restaurant – from three enduring classics to three created in the modern era

onE oF tHE beautiful things about celebrating 50 years of The Waterside Inn is retracing its history, and tracing its evolution over time. The kitchen team in the modern day – led by Alain Roux and head chef Fabrice Uhryn – may preside over food with a classic French backbone that incorporates flavours from across the globe, but as you’ll see in the following pages, it’s a theme that

was started by Michel Roux at the beginning of the restaurant’s story in 1972.

With that in mind, here Alain and Fabrice have uncovered the stories behind both historic and modern dishes, all of which are still served here, and all of which reveal something about The Waterside Inn’s unique way of working and the cultural exchange that’s always been so close to its heart.

Ian Dingle


“It was one of our sous chefs who developed this dish,” says Fabrice. “Again, there are some Asian elements, but the crab is the main ingredient. We try to keep a good balance of flavours, because we don’t want to just overwhelm the

main product, which is fantastic crab and caviar.”

“We change the menu four times a year ,” says Alain. “We still like to use the basis of classic French cooking, but the world’s become so small that we like to

get influence from other countries. We’ve got an international team, so it’s good to get inspiration and the addition of a little ingredient or little flavour. It’s subtle but it just does the work in the dish. It’s just about having fun.”

Flaked Devon crab meat

Two poached eggs in a pastry case


“This is a dish that was served to the Rothschild family by my dad, and it became very quickly a classic,” says Alain, “and on top of that, it’s one of Her Majesty’s favourite dishes.”

“The combination of ingredients is very classic,” says

Fabrice. “The egg, mousseline sauce, like an eggs benedict, with mushroom, asparagus and puff pastry. But it’s a refined version.”

“I think there are things that you realise guests don’t forget,” says Alain. “They say ‘I remember that dish. When is it coming back

on the menu?’ So, you think ‘Well, it’s time to bring it back.’

“There are dishes that fade away and others that come back regularly. If you try to remove them, you realise that they have naturally become a specialty of the house. It’s a signature dish.”

Ian Dingle

Pan-fried lobster medallions


“This is a signature dish of my dad’s that he created in the very early 1980s,” says Alain. “It was from one of his first trips to Asia. He came back and had that idea, influenced by the flavours of shellfish, the sweet and sour

flavours and the ginger. He fried that up in the kitchen and it’s stayed nearly the same since.

“Sometimes, dishes – to cook, to prepare – they get boring. But each one of them is a challenge. For this, we need to make sure you

chop the medallions to the right size, cut at the right area of the shell and then make sure to break the claws because we like to cook the lobster meat, the flesh, in the shell. It’s a challenge, but the dish has never, ever faded away.”


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Duo of roasted West Country lamb

“Another of my sous chefs, Charly, started this dish with a north African influence, but we felt it was too far away from French cuisine, so we tweaked it,” says Fabrice. “The lamb is classic. Again, the main ingredient is

West Country lamb. In summer, we always have the lamb on the menu because it’s one of the prime ingredients available in the UK. We weren’t happy with the garnish, and were making some artichoke barigoule – a

preparation of braised artichokes with bacon and vegetables that’s a classic from south of France –and I thought, ‘Why don’t we make fennel barigoule style?’ Charly tried it and it was amazing. It’s really a product of teamwork.”


Manjari chocolate

namelaka dessert


“Chocolate and cherry is a classic combination,” says Fabrice. “One of our pastry chefs worked on this dish. It’s got a gel made with Italicus – an Italian liqueur flavoured with bergamot – and a little white chocolate and Italicus

mousse on the plate. Namelaka is the Japanese name for a soft ganache, and there is definitely a Japanese influence here.”

“On the other side of the world a dish can have a different name, but the base is pretty much the

same,” says Alain. “I think that’s how the idea for this came up. We like to develop and learn different techniques, and get ideas from other restaurants, chefs and our colleagues here. Young, old –there are no boundaries.”


Warm raspberry soufflé


“Dad was a private chef with the Rothschild family, and this became one of his favourite desserts and a speciality,” says Alain. “When he and my uncle opened their first restaurant together, they became famous for having not one, but

several soufflés – savoury and sweet – and the raspberry became one of the most popular ones. He kept it here because it was such a signature dish that he could not stop making it. It’s one of the most simple dishes when you look at the

ingredients, but it’s not easy to do, which is a part of the traditional style of French classic cooking. If you want to do it to that standard, it’s about every component. There aren’t many on the plate, but every one needs to be perfect.”


Down memory lane...

A brief stint in The Waterside Inn’s kitchen as a youngster created a deep bond between James Martin and the Roux family that has lasted a lifetime. He sits down with MIKE GIBson to look back on his career in hospitality and TV and his memories of the ‘Old Man’, Michel Roux


t HE Wat E rs IDE I nn is no stranger to the odd star. And given its list of regular clients ranges from film stars to royals, the residents of Bray who live closest to the venue are no strangers to seeing them, either. Put simply, it usually takes something exceptional to cause a commotion outside. On a glorious sunny day in June, it turns out that thing is a 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB/C.

The owner of this growling vintage car is TV chef, restaurateur, entrepreneur and classic car collector James Martin. Only he’s not in it – he’s sitting in the Waterside’s dining room after a long lunch. He can pick out the roar of the car’s engine as it’s driven off the truck it’s been brought here on. And so, it seems, can Mandy, the Waterside’s neighbour and septuagenarian tour de force, who Alain Roux tells him is waiting outside, demanding to talk to the person responsible for disturbing her afternoon nap.

Those who don’t know Mandy may have been terrified – probably rightly so. Those who do, though, will know that beneath the curmudgeonly façade is a person easily charmed by a winning, TV-ready smile from a famous Yorkshireman – especially one she first met more than two decades previously.

But either way, on hearing of the car’s significance, few would begrudge James from having brought it: it was Michel Roux’s favourite of the celebroty chef's collection – one he accompanied James in on many trips to the pub, and therefore the one James brought with him on his first visit to The Waterside Inn since Michel’s passing –“in the Old Man’s memory.”

Sometime before this street scene, I get the chance to sit down with James, and to uncover how a chance stage at the beginning of his glittering career inadvertently created a deep-rooted friendship between him, Michel and the Roux family that has lasted decades, and continues to this day.

Mike Gibson: How did you get your start in food? What was your way in?

James Martin: I was brought up in a farmhouse, so we were farmers by trade. My dad was a policeman and a publican, and he did the catering at Castle Howard. That’s really my only connection with food. None of

my family were chefs.

I knew I wasn’t good academically from a young age – probably about eight or nine years old. I didn’t know why I wasn’t very good at school, but I couldn’t read very well, I couldn’t write very well, and I was always the shy one in the class because of it. And then I got the opportunity to work in a kitchen when I was around eight. I started helping in the car park, and then it rained one day and I ended up not directing cars, and washing pots in the kitchen instead. I used to peer through the window, peer through the next room, thinking, “Why are all these people in chef jackets? It’s amazing what they’re doing.”

My dad used to import Saint-Émilion wine in the UK, so I staged in France. I worked at Hotel de Plaisance, which is a two-star down in Saint-Émilion, when I was 11. And then I went back consecutive years all the way through my teenage years. I was at Cheval Blanc when I was 12 – my dad used to drop me off in the summer. He used to go around visiting all these wine vineyards and just leave me there at this one place. And I used to go for work experience, so Mont Bouchet, Cheval Blanc, Maison Troisgros, I can list them all. But they’re all with grannies at the house – they didn’t have professional chefs. So I would be taken to the market. If you wanted duck, you would go to the market and it was still quacking. And then you’d get it in the car, come back, draw it all out and you’d use everything. That was the norm. That’s when I really learned the art of food.

At 14, I had the opportunity to do work experience in London for four or five weeks. That was the important thing for me. I came down to London and I worked at The Square. I worked at a restaurant by Park Lane, Bracewells, and that was it. I was young and keen and eager, and because I’d worked on ↘

Ciaran McCrickard
I failed all my exams at school, including cookery, but I did get into catering college, where I met a guy who changed my life

↘ a farm, hard work was nothing to me. I failed all my exams at school, including cookery, but that was enough qualifications to get you into catering college, and that’s where I met a guy who changed my life, Ken Allanson. He was my lecturer. I did a threeyear course in two years, and then I left straight down to London. You had everybody from David Dorico to Paul Gayler, Antony Worrall Thompson, Brian Turner, Alastair Little. They all came up and judged my endof-year exams. They all offered me a job. I went straight down to London and then I didn’t see daylight for five years.

MG: How did you end up in charge of your own restaurants?

JM: When I left London, Chewton Glen had just lost their star, so they headhunted five or six chefs to bulk up the brigade. I ended up down there at just 20 years old. We got their star back within a year. Then I left, but I left to go with the general manager and the head sommelier to open a new concept called the Hotel du Vin. I was only 22 when we opened the doors in 1994. The minute I set up on my own at the hotel, we were fully booked – for eight months, lunch and dinner. I had three people in the kitchen. I’ve never had a quiet day since. It was the first real boutique hotel at the time, because everything was either fine dining or not. So you either had this or you had the other end of the spectrum. What you didn’t have was that really high-end middle bit. We hit that market for the first time. At that particular time, we were sort of Michelin-star-trained chefs doing brasserie food, which is much more common now, but it wasn’t then. And it flew, and it just took off. And then because of that, and you couldn’t get in the restaurant, then the media started. It went

from opening a restaurant to ‘bang!’, straight away. And then television started roughly about the same time because of the Hotel du Vin. I’ve never really looked back.

MG: How did your relationship with Michel and The Waterside Inn begin?

JM: I was working in London, I got a phone call and I ended up coming to spend a week here. I was the lowest position, but it doesn’t matter where you are in the kitchen, the respect and the attention to detail – there are very, very few places like this in the world, and very, very few with a family element like this. There’s nowhere else like it. And Michel is the greatest chef from my generation. There’s no question.

I came here for dinner and lunches, and bits and pieces, and then kept in touch, and then swapped details with Michel. He invited me once on the golf day, and didn’t realise I’d be playing golf for quite a long time. There’s a trophy for the longest drive and there’s a trophy for winning the whole lot, and the champagne, and I won everything. I just took the whole boat load. He said, “I’m supposed to do this for my customers, and you’ve just cleared everything out.” We always had a running joke about that. And then our paths crossed more and more, and then the friendship became more and more. And that’s where we are now.

Michel was the father figure I never had. Whenever I used to get a contract or used to get asked to do a job, I would always call him for advice. There’s no other person I would call. When I left the BBC, that was quite a big moment for me. Michel was the one that said, “Look, we’ll support you all the way through it.” He did one of the first Saturday Morning shows we did, when we went to ITV, and he did one of the very last before he died. You have that connection with each other. We’ve always had that. And the same thing with Alain and his family.

MG: Why do you think The Waterside Inn has enjoyed so much longevity?

JM: The problem is with cooking, everybody thinks it’s just about the food. To run this, it’s not: it’s 25% about the food. It’s 25% ↘

Michel was the father figure I never had. There’s no other person I would call for career advice
▴ BROTHERS IN ARMS: James in The Waterside Inn kitchen with Alain Roux

▸ AN OLD VINTAGE: James Martin is an avid collector of classic cars, and this 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB/C – one of just a handful of its kind in the world – was Michel’s favourite

Ciaran McCrickard

↘ about the people who come here, they bring the atmosphere. It’s 25% about the staff. But without that final 25%, with that person here, really being here the way that Michel was, no chance. That’s what makes it so special. It’s an awful lot of work, to do that and to do it well for that many years. That’s a big job. That’s a big role, that, for the people involved in it. You’ve only got to look at how the glasses are cleaned. That’s Michel. That’s his stamp on it. That’s a given. But what’s Alain is the new, modern twists, bits and pieces, new furniture. That’s the thing with hospitality, and more so now than ever – you’ve got to evolve and change.

I think this place is about decades. It’ll take two or three years for Alain to really stamp his authority on it and put his mark on it. And then, of course, there’s three or four members of the family that are coming through. It’s about passing that on, but people putting their own stamp on it. Everybody knows that Alain, as a chef, stands head-to-head with his dad. He’s just epic. Of course, I now employ members of staff from here. My right-hand man, Adam, used to be here as a sous chef. And when he wanted to leave here, the first person I phoned was the Old Man. I said, “Just to let you know that this guy’s applied, is this okay? I need your blessing first, before I say yes.”

MG: What advice did Michel give you?

JM: I remember Michel turned around to me four years ago and said “On television, there are very, very few people that can cook, but the very few people that can cook on TV are the ones who respect the food.” Always, I have that in the back of my head. I say to everybody on my production team, ‘It’s food

first.’ We’re making a show, but the food comes first. That’s the important bit. So if you respect that and respect the people who make it, then you’ll build from that.

MG: Are Michel and The Waterside Inn still an influence on you today? How do you apply it to your own restaurants?

JM: We’re all different – a three-star especially – but it comes down to the same thing. It’s about looking after the customer,

still making sure they have a good time, but above all else, it’s about enjoying what you’re doing, whether you’re creating the finest meal the world’s ever seen or whether you’re simply pan-frying fish with a little bit of sauce. I remember I did a sole meunière in the kitchen here with the Old Man and Alain. Whether it’s that kind of simplicity or doing something so fancy it’s still the same thing: respecting the ingredients, respecting the food, doing the best you can possibly do. That’s what makes it special.

It’ll take time, but everybody knows Alain stands head-tohead with his dad as a chef. He’s just epic
▸ DEARLY DEPARTED: James Martin and Michel Roux share a moment together
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The gold standard

Think of The Waterside Inn and you might think of three-Michelin-starred food served in a beautiful setting. But its secret weapon is truly world-class service by a dedicated front-of-house team. We look at what makes a stay so memorable

t HE r E’ s no D o UBt I n G that the food at The Waterside Inn is rightly considered among the very best in the UK. But it’s not only what’s on the table that drives the venue’s most loyal guests to keep coming back – it’s everything that goes on behind the scenes, presided over by general manager Frédéric Poulette and assistant manager Dean Bonwick according to exacting standards that have been set over generations, and adhered to by talented, relentlessly dedicated staff, from waiters to housekeepers and more.

“It’s not work – it’s a way of life,” says Fred. “I think that’s very important. There’s so many of us who have worked here and moved on elsewhere, and you see the difference. You bring this standard with you

everywhere you work – whether you become a waiter, a solicitor or something else.”

Much of this service is about adapting to what each guest is actually looking for during their visit. “We’re very lucky with the setting here on the river, which is one of the three reasons why I believe people come here,” says Dean. “You’ve got the setting, you’ve got the food, and you’ve got the service. Some people come for all three. Some come for the staff, they come to see us. Some are gastronomes and they travel just for the food. And some are not interested in either of those two –they just want to come and sit by the river on a sunny day. But all of those different types of clientele have to be satisfied in what they want the experience to be.

“There’s a great pride in working here, working for the Rouxs, given what they’ve achieved,” Dean continues. “And in the last couple of years, with Mr Roux passing away, there’s pressure, in the sense that we want to continue his legacy, what he’s done, but also to make sure we learn and support Alain going forward, and continue the standard that’s been set and that’s associated with the Roux name. It’s a lovely challenge.”

Both Fred and Dean remember Michel’s exacting presence – especially Fred, who worked under Michel for decades. And it’s a mark of Michel’s titanic influence that his eye for precision and continuous improvement has pervaded. “A lot of people tell us, ‘Oh, it’s perfect.’ But is it really?” says Fred. “I’ve realised nothing is perfect. Mr Roux used to say, ‘It can be as good as it can be, but you always have more room for improvement.’ And as the leader, he was always showing us that we can always improve somehow and in any circumstances. Either you make a mistake or don’t make a mistake. Anybody can make a mistake. It’s then down to how you’re going to fix it.”

The Waterside Inn has always and will always be a destination restaurant for its clients – even those who live nearby, or those who come often. Making sure a meal or a stay always feels like the most special of special occasions is a true team effort by all of the staff. “When people are leaving and say, ‘Thank you, we had such a great time. Your team is so attentive. They make us smile. You should be very proud.’ – when people praise my team, the way they work –then I think I’ve done my job, and it means they’re performing the way it’s meant to be,” says Fred. “A big thank you and a smile is the most rewarding thing from our guests. When I get a thank you for the team, thank you for the great experience, what else do I need?”

In the following pages, you can trace the ingredients that make for a perfect stay at The Waterside Inn, with – thanks to the work of Fred, Dean and their dedicated staff – easing you through an experience that’s never anything less than unforgettable.

◂ SERVICE WITH A SMILE: General manager Frédéric Poulette and assistant manager Dean Bonwick are in charge of front-of-house

Your arrival

1 On arriving at The Waterside Inn, the first port of call is to park –perhaps stopping to take in a hint of the Thames in front of you as you hand your car keys to the valet.

2 Next, head inside the iconic old entrance and be greeted by Fred or one of his trusted service staff, who’ll take your bags and offer you a drink as you wait to check in to your room.

3 If you’re staying in a suite, you may be led to newly created suite The Oarsman, a beautiful bolthole right on the river that allows you a space to call your own all the while you’re staying at The Waterside Inn.

4 A stay usually starts with a glass of champagne – and what better than The Waterside Inn’s signature champagne, selected by Alain.

5 If you’ve arrived in the afternoon, you’re free to make full use of your suite’s amenities, perhaps sitting quietly with a book or magazine.

6 When you’re ready, it’s time for a freshen-up at the suite’s beautiful dressing table before dinner.

Lateef Okunnu
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Early-evening drinks

1 The Waterside Inn’s generous terrace is the perfect place to warm up for dinner, especially in summer, when the days are long and the early evening is temperate.

2 The Waterside Inn II is the second incarnation of the restaurant’s muchloved, iconic boat, and a gentle pootle around Bray’s section of the Thames is an ideal way to blow off some steam as you get ready for an unforgettable evening.

3 Like most things, a boat trip is made even better with a glass of champagne.

4 Back on dry land, sit down at a table overlooking the river and order a round of drinks with one of the restaurant’s attentive waiting staff.

5 A vibrant negroni, crisp dirty martini or a beautiful gin and tonic are all excellent ways to prepare for dinner...

6 ...and if you’re getting hungry, some nuts and olives from the kitchen will quell your appetite until you sit down.

Lateef Okunnu

The main event

While there are many touches –some visible and others behind the scenes – that make a day and night at The Waterside Inn so special, it’s lunch or dinner that have made the restaurant such an enduring destination for such a long time.

1 Under Fred and Dean’s tutelage, front-of-house staff ensure that service is immaculate, starting from the moment you step into the dining room and continuing with the moment your starters arrive.

2 The seared foie gras is famous for good reason, has been a fixture of the menu for decades...

3 ...and is perfectly paired with a cold glass of Premier Cru Chablis.

4 Elsewhere on the starters section of the menu, a beautiful tomato and octopus salad is the perfect lighter way to kick things off before mains.

5 With the meal now well under way, there’s the chance to sample some of the dishes that have been fixtures of the menu over the last half a century, like the iconic lobster dish, originally created by Michel Roux and now adapted by Alain.

6 A bottle of red is a familiar sight with mains, and a perfect match for many of the menu’s more strongly flavoured and richer dishes.

7 Wines are served in exquisitely crisp Riedel glassware and paired to the grape varietal you’re drinking, to accentuate its complexity and the refinement of its flavour and texture.

8 After dinner, a cheese board is always a good idea, especially given the beautiful range of English and French cheeses that appear on the cheese trolley. If it’s paired with a glass of Graham’s 40 Year Old tawny port, it’s a fantastic way to segue into the last part of the meal.

9 A lunch or dinner at The Waterside Inn is one you won’t want to end – and you can stick around with a beautiful glass of cognac from the digestif trolley, which showcases some exquisite spirits.


Breakfast and departure

3 As much as meals in the dining room are what most people associate with eating at The Waterside Inn, breakfast is also the stuff dreams are made of, especially when it’s a selection of

classic French, hand-made patisserie.

4 A good cup of tea or coffee and a freshly squeezed orange juice is the perfect tonic to the night’s revelry.

5 Finally, it’s time to get back in the car and drive home. If we know our guests, it won’t be long until you’re back...

After your meal

1 Whether it’s those lazy afternoon hours following a lunch or the last moments of dinner before you retire to bed, a coffee in the summerhouse is the perfect send-off to a meal.

2 For a final flourish, tuck into some mignardises made lovingly by the kitchen team.



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The Waterside Inn small-batch premium London Dry and Rhubarb & Ginger gins have been developed by some of the finest palettes in the World. Hand-crafted in partnership with Chef Alain Roux and team to exacting taste and quality standards by multi-award winning Hawkridge Distillers. To find out more visit

A AA E XE CUTIVE CAR S E X ECUTI V E AN D C H A UFFER H IR E M a ke you r s elf.. . c omfor t a b l e Tel: (01628) 62444 6 Fa x: (01628) 62244 3 Em ail: bookings @ a c e- e x ec u ti v e. d emon . c o .u k

86 Le Normandie by Alain Roux

88 Roux at Skindles

90 Culinary school and Michel Roux Library

92 The Waterside Inn at home

97 Photography


Ian Dingle

A tale of two rivers

Le Normandie is a beautiful riverside restaurant in Bangkok with more than half a century of history, and Alain’s recent installation as signature chef is an exciting development that continues the Roux family’s relationship with this iconic venue

I t Was a series of guest chef events in Bangkok, Thailand in 1985 that would ultimately lead to Alain Roux recently becoming signature chef of Le Normandie, a restaurant on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. Alain’s late father, Michel Roux, had a strong affinity with the city and this restaurant in particular, a relationship that continued until his passing in 2020. A series of sellout collaborations inevitably led to an enduring relationship between the Roux family and Le Normandie, the culinary crown jewel in Bangkok’s Mandarin Oriental hotel.

Widely considered to be the city’s leading destination for French cuisine, Alain and his new team at Le Normandie received two Michelin stars in the 2022 guide. Alain talks about his patronage of the restaurant being something that was long discussed between him and his father, and the joy that it gives him to see this come to fruition. “This partnership is something my late father and I would have loved to do together,” he says. “It’s a dream we shared and discussed often.”

Over the 35 years that Michel shared collaborations at the restaurant, a number of his dishes became favourites of its regular diners. These will become a firm fixture on its menus going forward, featuring on the menu seasonally, alongside other favourites from The Waterside Inn. “Le Normandie has offered a quality of service and customer experience that my own restaurant, The Waterside Inn, strives to emulate,” says Alain. “It’s very exciting to share my food with diners at Le Normandie by Alain Roux, and it’s a privilege to partner with Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok.” Alain has appointed an exceptional key team including head chef Phillip Hickman and restaurant manager Federico De Luca, both of whom spent years under the mentorship of both Michel and Alain Roux at The Waterside Inn. Alongside sous chef Marta Confente and chef sommelier Antoine Simmonet, they form part of the extended Waterside Inn family, allowing them to carry its ethos even to a venue half-way across the world.

◂ DREAM TEAM: [left] The front-of-house staff includes restaurant manager Federico De Luca and chef sommelier Antoine Simmonet; the kitchen is overseen by a team including Alain, head chef Phillip Hickman and sous chef Marta Confente

To someone unaware of Michel and Alain’s personal history with the city, the reason behind Alain’s installation as chef may not be immediately obvious. But it

was a natural choice, not least because The Waterside Inn has held three Michelin stars for 38 years, the longest in the world outside France. Furthermore, Le Normandie sits within the first ever hotel of the group that became the Mandarin Oriental, a brand that has gone on to garner worldwide recognition and success and become synonymous with the world of luxury hotels.

The restaurant has long been considered the finest destination for French haute cuisine not just in Bangkok, but in Thailand

in general. It seems intuitive, then, to combine the international reputation of the Mandarin Oriental and the longstanding history of Le Normandie with the culinary prowess of a restaurant and chef as revered as The Waterside Inn and Alain. “The restaurant is a new addition to our family and I’m enjoying every minute,” he says. “A visitor who has never been to France will be able to discover authentic French cuisine at Le Normandie by Alain Roux.”

This partnership is something my late father and I would have loved to work on together
▴▾ GRAND DISHES: [above] A selection of dishes from the menu at Le Normandie; [below] the sumptuous dining room overlooking the river

A kindred spirit

The Waterside Inn’s sister venue is a stylish brasserie in a riverside location in Maidenhead with a storied and glamorous past. We look into the rich history and modern-day offering of restaurant that still carries all the hallmarks of the Roux identity

t HE UK I sn ’ t short of hospitality venues that have played host to royalty, whether that’s the Royal Family themselves, popculture icons and everything in between.

The same is true of The Waterside Inn. But even in the context of a restaurant empire that’s long been a destination for many of the country’s true householdnames, brasserie Roux at Skindles can more than hold its own. In fact, if the walls of the original building could talk, there’s no doubt they’d have some tall tales to tell.

A colourful history

Built in 1743, the original property was turned into a destination for high society by William Skindle, who purchased and renovated it in 1833. The venue quickly became a hotspot for the wealthy, particularly around the Ascot races when they would arrive at Skindles by boat. Its reputation spread, and Skindles quickly drew the patronage of King Edward VII, Queen Alexandra and members of their social circle.

In the 1950s, the property gained a

sticky-fingered friend in the way of the owner’s monkey who would join the likes of Bette Davis, the Marx brothers and King Hussein of Jordan at famous tea parties on the Skindles lawns. Jewellery, spectacles and other objects of value were known to go missing while the owners were unaware, the culprit eventually found to be Chico the monkey, who lived in the willow tree under which parties took place.

Skindles entered the wider public consciousness, however, in the 1960s, when


it was named as a frequent rendezvous spot for John Profumo and Christine Keeler during their relationship that would go on to be dragged through the papers and the courts becoming known as the Profumo Affair.

Always one for a good story, hospitality businessman Louis Brown purchased Skindles in 1978, renaming it Studio Valbonne and turning it into one of the world’s top nightclubs (including a swimming pool that became the stuff of legend), which would go on to host guests like Princess Margaret, President Richard Nixon and John Lennon and see the Rolling Stones, Thin Lizzy and others grace its stage.

Reinvented by the Rouxs

The original Skindles eventually closed its doors in the 1990s. It changed hands multiple times over the years, slowly falling

into disrepair, until it was purchased by The Berkeley Group in 2014. Demolition and redevelopment of the site commenced in late 2015, and on this storied site rose the Skindles of the present day.

In 2018, the Roux family, attracted by the site’s immense history and cultural significance, purchased the site of the old restaurant and opened Roux at Skindles, with the intention of it becoming a home-fromhome – the kind of accessible but ambitious brasserie that chef Alain and The Waterside Inn’s staff would choose to convene at during their holidays and time off.

That’s what you’ll find at the Skindles of the present day. Buoyed by its glamorous history, the venue sits astride the river Thames and makes for a joyous destination for a long lunch, dinner with friends or a beautifully crafted cocktail accompanied by

tapas-style dishes in the bar, with its terraces opening onto the river. Other additions include a great weekend breakfast menu, a superlative Sunday roast and a gorgeous private dining room suitable for any and all special occasions. Guests can even head out on the river itself for a jaunt in the restaurant’s boat, Valbonne, which pays homage to the venue’s former nightspot.

With members of The Waterside Inn’s team overseeing the food programme – led by talented head chef Rajkumar Holuss and general manager Stéphane Damezin – and a glorious riverside locale, Roux at Skindles is the perfect reimagination of this iconic venue, with a past firmly anchored in incredible hospitality, and a present and future that looks extremely bright under the careful stewardship of the Roux family.

▸ A NEW DAWN: [clockwise from left] A dish at the brasserie; kitchen and bar staff; a selection of food and drink; prep in the kitchen; Alain Roux, head chef Raj Holuss and general manager Stéphane Damezin; cruising the Thames in Valbonne, the venue’s boat

Higher education

With work underway on The Waterside Inn’s brand-new culinary school and Michel Roux Library, chef instructor Michael Nizzero sits down with MIKE GIB son to discuss his crucial role in the project and the team’s plans for the new venue

FUELLED BY t HE direction of Alain Roux, the creativity of Laura Roux, and the drive and ambition of the new and old faces in the kitchen and front-of-house, the majority of The Waterside Inn’s recent developments have been about two things: deepening the connection between the venue and its guests; and paying tribute to Michel Roux –both as a great chef, restaurateur, author and teacher, and also as a father figure.

It’s fitting, then, that the soon-to-beopened culinary school and library is a project that has both in mind. Located in Michel’s former home behind the restaurant, with beautiful spaces designed by Laura Roux, the new venue will help to train the next generation of chefs and front-of-house

teams, and provide the opportunity to get customers closer to the food they love, both in person and remotely.

The library will house Michel’s extensive collection of culinary titles, including rare, antique books along with his own 18 literary works printed in at least 14 different languages. This will form a unique resource for colleagues, patrons and staff. There will also be a small boutique selling Roux produce, and a riverside garden will be developed as a beautiful feature to

complement the setting and the school.

Presiding over the culinary school’s operations is Michael Nizzero, a chef with a deep connection to The Waterside Inn and the Roux family, and the ideal person to take the reins on this truly special project.

MIKE GIBSON: What’s your background and how did you arrive at The Waterside Inn?

MICHAEL NIZZERO: I’m from Belgium originally. I did my apprenticeship mainly in Belgium but also in London, in 2001, and then worked in Dubai in a fine-dining restaurant. It was there I met Michel Roux, who came to do some promotion. I helped him out and we just clicked – we worked very well together. So he said to me, “Look, if you ever want to come back to Europe, contact me.” I was 24 at the time, and when someone like him tells you that, it means a lot. I decided to message him two or three months after, when he said he had a position open as sous chef at The Waterside Inn. I joined in 2007, I stayed for four years and then I wanted to move on. But I was lucky that during these four years, Mr Roux helped me, and took me under his wing.

MG: What did you do after that first stint?

MN: Mr Roux and I did more than 25 food promotions together, including in Bangkok. Three to four times a year I used to go around the world with him, so we always stayed close, and it was the same with chef Alain and chef Fabrice – we worked well together.

When I wanted to move on and do my own thing, Mr Roux had a friend who owned a hotel restaurant in France called La Briqueterie, in Champagne. I went there and got a Michelin Star, stayed there for four years and then came back and then worked at The Ritz in London with chef John Williams, and

Lateef Okunnu; artist’s impressions courtesy of CPL Architecture ◂ HEAD HONCHO: Michael Nizzero has been an important part of The Waterside Inn’s recent history, and he’ll head up operations at the culinary school
When you’re a head chef in a small kitchen, you spend so much of your time teaching other people about cooking

we got a Michelin Star there too.

After that, I was at The Bath Priory in Bath, and then Covid hit. I wanted to create my own business, so I started doing online cooking and teaching people. I realised I actually really liked doing it. When you’re a head chef in a small kitchen, you spend so much time with young chefs that actually most of the time you’re teaching other people about cooking. I was always in touch with either Mr Roux, before he passed, or chef Alain – even when I had my own kitchens, I used to come back here to see them and Fred, whom I’ve known since 2007 and is a best friend. I’ve got a young family and my wife is British, so when I wanted to move on and I’d started teaching, chef Alain started talking about this project. He had this project in mind already, we had a chat, and I decided to come back.

MG: How are you spending your time now?

MN: I’m helping to run the culinary school project – the materials, the equipment, the kitchen design alongside Laura, and the working environment. And at the same time, I help with Le Normandie by Alain Roux at the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, because I’ve been there a few times, either with chef Alain or Mr Roux. I support at The Waterside Inn and at Roux at Skindles, too, when I’m needed. I do all the online shop produce, the jams and everything. It’s a great job.

MG: The culinary school is opening next year. How will it work, and what will your role be?

MN: We’re planning to do a very high-end culinary school, which we’ll use to train our professional chefs from the kitchen, which I’m already starting to do. Also, and just as importantly, our front-of-house teams will follow a training and development programme at the school. When the chefs change section, chef Fabrice asks me to come and support, because I have time to teach them – to show them a section, a way of preparing a fish, and things like that.

We’ll also welcome customers to cook with us via a package they can book. They’ll spend the evening with us and then spend the next day in the cookery school. We’ll have different packages and recipes available. We know we’re moving into the future, where everything is more digital, so that’s what we’re looking at doing here. We’ll be using online courses and videos, so people will be able to connect and cook with me and our chefs from anywhere in the world. Plus, when guests come to the culinary school, they can learn how to cook dishes here, and when they go home, they get a short video so they can redo it at home.

MG: How important is it to connect guests here with the kitchen’s operations?

MN: It’s all about the details and the experience. That’s why I love this place and

why I came back: when you go somewhere else, it’s hard to find such a deep attention to detail, and that sense of going the extra mile to make the experience special.

The culinary school is not about doing a million classes a year; it’s about delivering an extra experience for the customer. You come to The Waterside Inn, you have a great dinner here, you sleep in a great room, you have a nice breakfast. Then you have an experience in our culinary school where you learn recipes from Mr Roux in his former house.

It means a lot to me because I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time with him, and that’s also why I wanted to do this project –because it’s in his memory.

MG: How will the project carry on his legacy?

MN: It’s a tribute to Mr Roux, and what he brought to the culinary scene in the UK and worldwide, and we’re trying to carry that forward. Mr Roux was always a big fan of sharing his knowledge, his passion and his recipes with our young chefs and with our guests, too. It was always happening naturally, but we didn’t have a set place for it.

I’ve spoken to Alain about this – I hope Michel would look at us and be proud of what we’re trying to achieve: to carry on his legacy, not only in food, but his brilliance, his knowledge and all he stood for as a man.

Mr Roux was always sharing his knowledge, his passion and his recipes, but we didn’t have a place for it before
▴ MAKING PLANS: [from left] The culinary school project has been designed by architect Chris Littlemore, with creative direction from Laura Roux and kitchen design and installation by Snug Kitchens of Newbury; the six-station studio training kitchen; the interiors of the Michel Roux Library; an aerial view of the school and garden

Bring it home

The Waterside Inn's creativity and expertise shines through in unique collaborations with partner producers and makers, from homeware to preserves, cognac and more, all available in the on-site shop and online


Kitchen essentials

You can bring a bit of the restaurant’s expertise into your own home with these beautiful kitchenware products, created in recent years by some of the world's finest artisans in collaboration with Michel, Alain and The Waterside Inn’s team.

1 FIZGIG GLASS BUTTER DISH, £27.50. Distinctive, handcrafted butter dishes designed for The Waterside Inn by Fizgig Glass founder Anna French, with each piece totally unique thanks to the process behind its creation.

2 50TH ANNIVERSARY CHEF’S GLOBAL KNIFE SET, £345. An exquisite knife set by iconic producer Global, created to commemorate The Waterside Inn's 50th anniversary, featuring chef's and paring knives and a santoku.

3 CHEESE BY MICHEL ROUX O.B.E., £20. A beautiful cookery book and the last written by Michel before his passing, celebrating recipes that showcase beautiful cheeses.

4 ALAIN ROUX ENGRAVED CHEESE KNIFE SET, £85. A set of three sumptuous cheese knives set in olive wood handles – the perfect companion to the book and ideal for a gift or addition to the home.

5 ALAIN ROUX SIGNATURE STEAK KNIFE SET, £320. This exquisite steak knife set is the product of a collaboration with Claude Dozorme's distinctive Laguiole brand of cutlery, and comes in a beautiful presentation box.

6 50TH ANNIVERSARY CHEF’S GLOBAL CHOPPING KNIFE, £174. Another special collaboration between the Roux family and knifemaker Global, this time for a 20cm all-round chopping knife, made from folded steel.

7 ROBERT THOMPSON'S CHOPPING BOARD FOR ALAIN ROUX, £395. A heavy-duty but beautifully handcrafted chopping board made by family-owned designer Robert Thompson’s for The Waterside Inn, with a distinctive carved 'mouseman' motif that nods to the unique history of the brand. All items available at

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David Harrison


Looking for an addition to your drinks cabinet? Look no further than one of The Waterside Inn’s collaborations with some excellent distillers, from signature gins to old and rare whisky and cognac.


LONDON DRY GIN, £54.50. A richly flavoured and refined London Dry gin, made in collaboration with Hawkridge Distillers and flavoured with botanicals including rose petals, lavender, meadowsweet, wild gorse, fresh orange and pear.


RHUBARB & GINGER GIN, £56.50. A luscious flavoured gin also made for The Waterside Inn by Hawkridge Distillers, the perfect foil for an autumnal gin and tonic.



WHISKY, £170. A recent bottling of an old whisky from the Speyside distiller, available at an affordable price considering its age.


LIMITED EDITION ‘MICHEL ROUX’, £1,495. A limited-edition bottling of Bruichladdich single malt whisky, created by the progressive Hebridean distiller to celebrate The Waterside Inn’s 30th year of holding three Michelin stars.

5 BRUICHLADDICH 1991 ‘MICHEL ROUX’, £223. A special bottling by Michel Roux by the Islay-based distiller, created from single exbourbon cask dating back to 1991 and matured in a barrel originally used to age Sauternes, for extra richness and complexity.


LIMITED EDITION ‘MICHEL ROUX’, £1,495. A rare bottling from the acclaimed Highlands distiller, also created for Michel Roux to mark 30 years of three Michelin stars.

7 COGNAC HARDY NOCES D’OR ‘THE WATERSIDE INN’ LIMITED EDITION 50TH ANNIVERSARY 1972-2022, price on application. An extremely old and rare Grande Champagne cognac from producer Hardy Noces d’Or, from a blend of eaux de vie at least 50 years old. All items available at

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David Harrison

Pantry products and gifts

Whether you’re looking for gifts for friends and family or welcome additions to your own kitchen, these preserves, edible treats and crockery items are a sure-fire hit.

1 ALAIN ROUX SPREADS, £8-9.50. A selection of spreadable items, including blueberry jelly, Long Lane honey and chocolate spread.

2 THE WATERSIDE INN CANDLE, £58. The signature Waterside Inn scent captured in wax form by Laura Roux and Arcania Apothecary.

3 BONINI MODENA BALSAMIC VINEGAR VIVACE 3 YEARS, £22. A beautiful balsamic vinegar from Modena in Italy, matured for three years in oak barrels.

4 TRIO OF GRAND CRU DE BATZ SALTS, £49. A set of three beautiful sea salts from the rugged west coast of Brittany, specially selected by Alain Roux.

5 THE WATERSIDE INN COFFEE GASTRONOMIQUE, £7.50. A blend of arabica coffee from Guatemala, Costa Rica and Colombia, made for The Waterside Inn by Musetti.

6 DI PERNA OLIVE OIL, £18. This high-altitude blend of oils from majatica and justa olives is made by master Italian olive oil producer Di Perna in the Dolomites.

7 THE WATERSIDE INN CHOCOLATE CHEF HATS, £18. A creation made by Alain Roux at The Waterside Inn and featuring three different and delicious styles of chocolate.

8 ALAIN ROUX SIGNATURE CROCKERY, £5.50. Beautiful china dishes, featuring a spoon rest, cocotte, butter dish and more.

9 ALAIN ROUX SIGNATURE CHEF’S APRON, £37. A stylish chef’s apron, perfect for home cooks looking to channel the spirit of Michel and Alain in their kitchen.

10 THE WATERSIDE INN CHRISTMAS PUDDING, £45. A signature at-home dish by Alain Roux, including a Roux recipe for brandy sauce.

11 THE WATERSIDE INN CHRISTMAS HAMPER, price on application. The Waterside Inn’s collection of Christmas products, from preserves to drinks and more. All items available at

3 4 9 1 7 6 8 5 11 10 2 BranCHInG oUt THE WATERSIDE INN AT HOME 95

Creating luxury garden escapes for over 100 years.

Choose your favourite from our stunning range of garden Summerhouses. An idyllic outdoor centrepiece, built to last and thoughtfully created with you in mind. What better way to relax, unwind or entertain friends and family?

Start your journey today and contact Scotts on 01832 732366, or visit for more details.

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By buying from Valrhona, you are choosing a responsible chocolate that is traceable and sourced directly from our producers. We constantly push back the limits of creativity, so that you can enjoy uniquely flavored, exceptional chocolates that are perfect as indulgent treats or for pastry-making. TOGETHER, GOOD BECOMES BETTER.

The Newhaven Corner Summerhouse The Sun Ray Garden Room The Burghley Summerhouse
SOT_SummerHouse_WatersideInn_219x125.5mm_V3.indd 1 10/08/2022 16:29
Endorsed by Alain Roux and:

From the archive...

We take a look at some classic photographs of Michel Roux OBE and other familiar faces over the last half-century of life at The Waterside Inn


1) Michel Roux OBE with champagne in hand, 1984

2) Alain and Michel in the kitchen together, 2015

3) Michel in the dining room, 1978

4) Louise, Laura, Michel, Alain and Paul, 2019

5) Michel and Albert Roux, 1986

6) Fabrice Uhryn, Michael Nizzero, Michel and Alain at The Waterside Inn in 2007

7) Alain, Michel Roux OBE and Michel Roux Jr, 2016

8) Michel Roux at The Waterside Inn in 2001

9 10 11 12
▴ IT'S A FAMILY AFFAIR: 9) Michel Roux OBE and Alain Roux welcome Master Paul Roux to The Waterside Inn, 2012 10) Michel treating the swans, 2007 11) Michel Roux, November 1984 12) Frederic Poulette, Michel, Alain and Fabrice Uhryn at The Waterside Inn in 2019 13) Michel and Alain (age 13) in the dining room at The Waterside Inn, 1982
14) Michel and Robyn Roux, 1986
Wilkinson Vintners congratulate Alain Roux and the entire team at The Waterside Inn for 50 years of consistent and brilliant quality of food, service and a remarkable wine list. We are exceptionally proud of and grateful for our very long association with the late Michel Roux Snr. OBE and the restaurant over the years. All our very best wishes for many more years at the very pinnacle of the world of ne dining. +44 (0)20 7616 0404 VINTNERS

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