Fine Living | Diary of a Somebody

Michel Roux Jr – Day 1

A lack of langoustines, but the über-chef ensures 2013 at Le Gavroche opens with a feasting full house

Michel Roux Jr – Day 1

January 08 2013
Michel Roux Jr

Day: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

It is the first day back at Le Gavroche after Christmas and New Year, and a busy start to the week. I wake at 7am, breakfasting on a double espresso, homemade bread and my mother’s homemade Seville marmalade. It’s a lovely beginning to the morning – I can’t understand those who decide against breakfast.

Monday is the busiest day in terms of organisation at Le Gavroche, as the day where we set up for the week. I arrive at Upper Brook Street for 8am, where the kitchen is already a hive of activity. On a Monday the chefs arrive at 7am to kick start preparations. I check deliveries and supplies and sit down with Rachel Humphrey, our head chef, to go through the menu. There are still no langoustines – Scottish fisherman seem to be on strike or possibly they enjoyed the New Year’s celebrations a little too much… In any case, we are substituting langoustine for lobster – which never goes down badly.

At around 11.30am I settle down with the staff for a steaming bowl of pasta, washed down with a couple of double espressos. I don’t drink alcohol from Monday to Friday, and try to drink a large amount of water throughout the day. I think it’s really important, especially if, like me, you have a penchant for coffee.

After talking to a lot of happy customers who come in for lunch, I head to the gym for a very gentle workout for about an hour and a half. I am hoping to run the London Marathon for the ninth time, which will be my 18th marathon in total. Unfortunately, I have a torn calf muscle at the moment, so I am keeping the cardio to rowing and cycling for now. I think the marathon might be a bit of a challenge this year.

I pop home for a cup of tea with my wife, Giselle, and catch up on post and emails before heading back to the restaurant for the dinner service. I am back at Le Gavroche for 6pm to welcome a full house. Eighty covers on the first Monday in January is a reassuring sign that we are doing something right. Before the guests arrive, all the staff sit down once again to a tasty bowl of stir-fried rice – it really keeps us going. Throughout the evening I make sure that I speak to every table in the restaurant; it is one of the joys of my job. You meet so many interesting people with the most intriguing stories, as well as regular customers who often become friends.

One of the parties this evening is a table of 10, celebrating the 50th birthday of Sue Thompson, who has worked with the Roux family for more than 20 years. It is wonderful that the people who work with us also choose to celebrate important landmarks in their lives with us. Another of the guests is the son of a good friend of mine who owns the three-Michelin-starred restaurant De Karmeliet in Bruges. It is great to see him.

At 10.45pm, after the last order has gone out, I leave the restaurant and head home. With a warming mug of thyme tea (not my favourite, but all we had), I catch up on the BBC news and the events I have missed during the day. After a nice long shower, I head to bed at midnight, content following a rather seamless Monday and full of anticipation for the first – and very busy – week of 2013.