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January 12, 2024

The legacy of Le Gavroche: Michel Roux Jr reflects on the eve of its closure

It is time to bid adieu to the Mayfair institution

By Stephanie Bridger-Linning

Michel Roux Jr has reflected on the lasting legacy of Le Gavroche as it prepares to close its doors after more than 50 years.

The acclaimed chef said the two Michelin-starred restaurant, which will have its final service on Saturday 13 January, helped elevate London to the status of a global culinary capital. 

[See also: Farewell, Le Gavroche: the end of an era as the Mayfair stalwart prepares to close for good]

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‘We are so proud that for more than half a century Le Gavroche has built a reputation for incomparable French fine dining and has taken London’s dining scene from almost non-existent to cementing it as one of the food capitals of the world,’ Roux said in a statement to Spear’s

‘The decision to close the doors to the restaurant means so much, not just to myself and the Roux family, but to the wider Gavroche team and our guests who have become family over so many years. But this is not the end of Le Gavroche  – the restaurant may be closing, but the name will live on, as will the Roux dynasty.’

Le Gavroche: a Mayfair institution

Albert Roux and colleagues outside Le Gavroche
Co-founder Albert Roux with his happy team back in the heyday of Le Gavroche / Image supplied

The restaurant was founded in 1967 by Michel’s father and uncle, Michel and Albert Roux, when London’s food culture had yet to escape its postwar doldrums. The brothers brought French standards of service, precision and ingredients to the restaurant’s first location, on Lower Sloane Street. 

[See also: ‘Now is only the beginning’: Chef Alain Ducasse on how he went from living in a yard to gaining 21 Michelin stars]

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A League of Their Own

Le Gavroche received its first star in 1974, a second three years later and a third (unprecedented for a British establishment) in 1982, after it moved to Upper Brook Street, where it remained. Michel Jr took over running the London venue in 1991. 

A who’s who of chefs trained at Le Gavroche, including Marco Pierre White, Marcus Wareing, Gordon Ramsay, Pierre Koffman.

Jun Tanaka, now a successful restaurateur in his own right, has fond memories of a year he spent there in 1991, fresh out of catering college. ‘It was a tough kitchen, no two ways about it. It was the best restaurant in the country, so it was tough,’ he previously told Spear’s. But everywhere I went afterwards I wasn’t as surprised by the standards, because they were never as high.’

The closing of Le Gavroche will mark the end of an era for London’s culinary scene / Image: Issy Coker

Michel Roux Jr sent shockwaves through the capital’s fine-dining scene in August 2023 when he announced that Le Gavroche would close in January 2024.

In a letter posted on his website, Roux explained his plans. ‘I know this will come as a shock to many of you, so please know this decision has not been made lightly,’ he wrote. ‘Le Gavroche means so much, not just to myself and the Roux family, but to the wider Gavroche team and you, our guests, who have become our family over so many years. I have always felt that should Le Gavroche ever close, it must be on a high. Le Gavroche has, and continues to be, fully booked, week in, week out, but I have known for a while that I must make time for a better work/life balance, so I can spend more time with my family and on my other business ventures.’

The news prompted outpourings of support from celebrity fans and fellow chefs, who hailed it the ‘end of an era’.

Now, the Le Gavroche name will live on through a series of residences with cruise provider Cunard. So it is time to bid adieu to a Mayfair stalwart as it sets sail for the high-seas.

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