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World Chefs: Michel Roux Jr. gets back to his roots

Sep 27, 2011, 6:37 a.m.

By Alice Baghdjian

LONDON (Reuters) - Michel Roux Jr. has traversed the English Channel with his cooking in a career that has included sautéing for French presidents Giscard D'Estaing and Francois Mitterrand, and frying the contestants of British TV cooking competition "Masterchef" with his eye-goggling expressions.

Roux's culinary and on-screen credentials have earned him celebrity status, beyond that granted by family connections.

But now a new television venture, "The Roux Legacy," will see the chef returning to his roots, as two generations of the Roux family cook together in the kitchens of their Michelin starred restaurants, including Michel Jr.'s Le Gavroche in the exclusive London district of Mayfair.

Q: You were born in Britain but have French parents -- how has your mixed upbringing influenced your cooking?

A: It probably influenced me a lot subliminally but most importantly I went to English schools and had an English education. As a result of that I developed a taste for English cuisine, lamb with mint sauce, for instance, and particularly English puddings.

Q: Did you always know you were going to become a chef and enter the family business?

A: I always knew from a very young age that I was going to go into catering and hospitality, most definitely, but not necessarily into the family business.

Q: You followed in your father's footsteps and took over Le Gavroche - what would you say your stamp on the restaurant has been?

A: Since I took over Le Gavroche I have made the experience a lot more convivial and less stuffy. And I say that because in the 70s and 80s part and parcel of fine dining was that it had to be formal. That's not to say we're not about serious food, but now the dining experience is more conducive to having fun.

Q: Your latest television series "The Roux Legacy" features you, your father, uncle and cousin cooking together - has there ever been any rivalry between you?

A: I wouldn't say rivalry - more heated discussion. It's not rivalry because we're all family and we love each other dearly. There's no jealousy between us, but certainly when we all get together there are fervent discussions about food and how things should be cooked.

Q: So can we expect any Masterchef-like scenes on our screens?

A: (Laughs) No..well.no, not really - I don't think so!

CRISPY CHORIZO ROLLS (serves 8)

6 spicy cooking chorizo, about 80g each

10 sheets of brique pastry (North African paper thin

pancakes)

1 tbsp plain flour

vegetable oil

Cut the chorizo in half lengthways, then cut each half in three strips. Roll each chorizo strip in just enough brique pastry to go round twice. Close the edges and ends with a little paste made with flour and water, pressing well to make sure they are properly sealed. Heat the vegetable oil in a deep fryer or large pan. Before adding the chorizo rolls, test the temperature of the oil by dropping in a small piece of bread. If it sizzles and turns golden the oil is ready. Deep fry the rolls for a few minutes until golden. Alternatively, brush them with olive oil and bake in a hot oven, 200C/gas 6, for 5-6 minutes until crispy.

(Edited by Paul Casciato)

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