They say you shouldn’t meet your heroes – well in this case I disagree, I’ve been lucky enough to meet my food hero twice and trust me he doesn’t disappoint. Michel Roux Jr is my personal food hero – a man that followed in the footsteps of his famous father and uncle and is now in possession of several Michelin stars and was expert judge on Master Chef: The Professionals. I first met him two years ago at an event celebrating his YouTube series, The Craftsmen’s Dinner in association with The Balvenie… time flies as the third series of The Craftsmen’s Dinner is now live and this time two-Michelin starred Le Gavroche was the location for the celebration.
Now last time I visited Le Gavroche was for my 20th birthday, and I’m loathed to admit how long ago that was…. but it’s still nothing compared to how long the restaurant has actually been around. The restaurant opened in it first location on Lower Sloane Street in 1967 and when it moved to the current location on Upper Brook Street in 1981 it was already in possession on two Michelin stars. It was in 1983 that the restaurant won the coveted third Michelin, the highest recognition for a restaurant and the first restaurant in Britain to receive it. The three stars were maintained for over ten years and the two stars have been maintained until today! Opened by the famous Roux brothers, Michel and Albert, Albert’s son Michel Roux Jr took over the kitchen in 1991 and has remained the chef patron.
Le Gavroche is one of those restaurants that has never let tradition slip and the interiors are beautifully formal and traditional. Though as we were there for a press event, we were lucky enough to be secluded in the private dining room that has a video screen giving a sneak peak into the kitchen. Hosting us in the dining room was The Balvenie ambassador Alwynne Gwilt (also known as The Miss Whisky) who talked us through the process of making The Craftsmen’s Dinner. This series sees Michel Rouxx Jr travelling the Britain to meeting the craftsmen behind the Balvenie whisky on a journey of discovery into what actually goes into makesiing it. The series culminates in the craftsmen enjoying a dinner curated by Michel.
Alwynne screened that final episode for us in the private dining room in order to give a taster of the series and what it was all about. She explained the long passion Michel has had for the Balvenie whisky and the joy he has found in immersing himself in their craft. We were excited to learn that the meal that the craftsmen ate would be replicated for us here at Le Gavroche.
In our excitement, I missed the explanation of the canapés and just as we were discussing what the topping was, a voice filled in the details for us…
‘It’s quince, quince jam’ came the distinctive voice of Michel Roux Jr. For once I was lost for words…though I’d met Michel before it was incredibly exciting to meet him in this context. In his two-Michelin star restaurant, serving us food and explaining the dishes.
Just like the craftsmen, our first course was scallop tartare with sweet miso, yuzu and buckwheat, a dish I had no doubt I was going to love. It was served with a glass of Chapel Down – Kit’s Coty Bacchus 2016 from North Down in Devon. A few people around the table had never had English wine before and it was highly well received by all.
Next a serving trolley was wheeled into the room and none other than Michel Roux Jr was carving my meat! Honestly I could die happy now I thought as he plated it up and put it in front of me…
On the plate was loin of venison (perfectly cooked of course) with roast cauliflower, king oyster mushroom and bitter cacao sauce. Michel even came in and gave me an extra slice of meat which I did not need but I wasn’t going to say no to Michel! Outside of the private dining room we could see Michel going from table to table greeting all the guests, charming everyone with his genial personality.
‘He’s here as often as possible’ Alwynne told us, ‘Even when he’s extremely busy with other projects.’
Finally the passion fruit soufflé was served, again with Michel himself adding the dollop of white chocolate ice cream.
Of course I couldn’t leave without a picture of Michel (to send to my mum) and he was willing to oblige though he must have to get 100s of photos with randoms like me all the time!!
I always pinch myself whenever I get to do something amazing as result of my blog and this was a truly wonderful opportunity. A big thank you to Michel Roux Jr, Le Gavroche and The Balvenie.
You can see the entire series of the Craftsmen’s Dinner here: https://www.youtube.com/thecraftsmensdinner
I worked with The Balvenie as part of a paid partnership though I was only contracted to share a post on Instagram and I was under no obligation to write this blog, but it was to exciting not to share!