January 14 2013
Michel Roux Jr
I wake early, have
breakfast and jump into a taxi booked to take me to the first of my 14 radio
interviews this morning, which kick off at 8.15am. Cactus Kitchens, a
state-of-the art cookery school in Clapham set up by the team behind Saturday
Kitchen and other hit TV foodie shows, is launching next week, which is
extremely exciting. I have known Amanda and Simon Ross (co-managing
directors of Cactus TV) for years, and I think they have come up with a
fantastic concept to offer people the opportunity to cook with some of the
UK’s best-known chefs. With the renaissance of food programmes in the UK, it is great to
see the positive effect they are having in inspiring a generation of
knowledgeable and keen cooks.
Thankfully, all 14 interviews have been arranged back-to-back in one location, so other than a hoarse voice and sore throat, the morning runs smoothly. Many of the interviewers ask whether I will be critiquing the dishes from the Cactus Kitchens cookery experience as severely as I would those on MasterChef: The Professionals. The answer is, yes. I think it is important to offer advice and pointers on how things can be improved wherever possible, as then people can learn from their mistakes. Cactus Kitchens will be a lovely addition to the foodie vibe that is already very much thriving in Clapham – and happens to be just a short walk from my London home. I can’t wait to get started.
By 12.45pm I am back at Le Gavroche to oversee a fully-booked lunch service. The Friday lunch crowd always lingers, as guests kick-start their weekend. We have a belated Christmas party of 15 in the restaurant, which sustains a festive feel – and seems apt since the weather outside feels like it has dropped to sub-zero temperatures by the time I escape to the gym.
After a quick work-out and my daily cup of tea with my wife at home, I head back to the restaurant at 6pm to find that the table of 15 is still here, making the most of an afternoon away from the office. Our guests this January seem to have had enough of the doom and gloom of the recession and, while still being careful, are certainly having some light-hearted fun when they can. It is lovely to see and I feel very positive for 2013.
Dining at the restaurant tonight is Penelope, my eight-year-old god-daughter. It is her first taste of restaurant fine dining. Tiggy, her mother, is the daughter of my father’s accountant, so I’ve known the family for a long time. Sweetly, Tiggy’s first fine-dining experience was when her parents took her to Le Gavroche when she too was eight years old. I think it is so important for children to try a range of different foods and be exposed to the elegance and pleasure of having a meal, which is so often lost in the hectic speed of today. And as there are so many excellent value set-menu deals at top restaurants at the moment, I hope more families are able to appreciate the experience.
After catching up with Penelope and her mother I head home, looking forward to a very relaxed weekend with Giselle.
On Saturday morning we enjoy a leisurely breakfast and discuss the week’s events while reading the newspapers. We then head to watch the Harlequins play Connacht at the Stoop for a lunchtime kick-off. It is a fantastic match – the Harlequins play brilliantly.
Then in the evening my wife and I head to Hakkasan for dinner with an old friend, Philippe Requin, who used to work with us. We have a very enjoyable evening catching up over some good food and wine.
On Sunday we wake up to a crisp, fresh winter’s day and so take a stroll down the Northcote Road in Clapham, trying some delicious morsels from the market on the way.
I go for a run in the afternoon and my calf muscle feels a lot better. I manage 16km and head home for a hot shower. A weekend run always clears my head, and I then feel ready to settle in for the evening in front of the Manchester United vs Liverpool game with a nice steaming cup of tea. Life doesn’t get much better than that.
I head to bed on Sunday evening, happily rested, and think back over all the lovely comments from customers during the week, plus the challenges in the kitchen – I am so pleased that all the hard work continues to create something beautiful in a tough little world.