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Fine Living | Diary of a Somebody

Michel Roux Jr – Day 3

From cooking for Manchester United to playing for Rugby Legends, the Le Gavroche chef signs up for several sporting challenges

Michel Roux Jr – Day 3

January 10 2013
Michel Roux Jr

Day: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

At 9.30am I meet Keri Moss, the joint winner of MasterChef: The Professionals, for a coffee at Le Gavroche to discuss her plans and see where I may be able to guide and help her. It is no small achievement, and I take a very personal interest in each winner’s future. I am thrilled to see that Keri is doing very well and has already secured some fantastic opportunities. We also discuss working on some projects together in the future.

As Keri leaves, Debbie Savage, who looks after sponsorship and corporate events for Manchester United, arrives at the restaurant. I am a massive Manchester United supporter (I even drink my tea out of a Manchester United mug) and am delighted that Debbie has chosen to book out Roux at Parliament Square for a forthcoming corporate event, where I will cook for key members of the team. It should be a great day – I can’t wait.

After Debbie’s departure, we move straight into the lunch service; it continues to surprise me how busy we seem to be this January. The four-rib of beef flies out of the kitchen like hotcakes: it will definitely become a permanent feature of the à la carte menu. The dish is even better in the knowledge that enjoying it also means supporting brilliant British producers. One of our guests asks if he can order the bone marrow beignets to take away, as he wants them for breakfast the next day. Very flattering – but, personally, I think I’ll stick to my toast and espresso.

The arrival of the well-built Josh Lewsey, Serge Betsen and Harvey Thorneycroft causes a bit of a stir in the restaurant, particularly with a table from Northamptonshire who are celebrating a 40th birthday. Harvey is especially thrilled to be the centre of attention among these avid Northampton Saints fans. Following their lunch, the players move up to the bar to join me for a couple of press interviews surrounding the forthcoming British & Irish v French Rugby Legends match, to be held on February 22 at the Stoop, which is being organised by Harvey and in which Josh and Serge will be on opposing teams.

I am a huge rugby fan (particularly of the Harlequins), and used to be a keen rugby player at school. Originally, I had signed up to cook for the event, but after a great afternoon with the boys and some impassioned pleas from Harvey “Perseverance” Thorneycroft, I am coaxed into playing for five minutes on both of the teams. Split loyalties? At 53, I may well be the oldest, and potentially the slightest, on the pitch, but we will have to hope I am the fastest and out-run them all. The gym training may have to go up a notch from now on…

I have huge admiration for sportsmen and women – the focus and single-mindedness that is needed for success and constant self-improvement is very similar to that required of a chef. On the boys’ departure, it is too late to head to the gym and so I settle down to sift through some paperwork and start designing our next menu.

Another busy and fulfilling dinner service over, I head to bed with a cup of rather revolting sage herbal tea and think back over the day’s events. Playing rugby at the Stoop with national teams and super-fit stars… what have I got myself into?