Thursday, 8 October 2009

The Masters

Whilst I've been away, T managed to get addicted to Masterchef Professional. I too have now succumbed. One of the reasons is that I find Michel Roux Jr. mesmerising*. He looks like an officer in the French Foreign Legion: gaunt, tanned, stubbled, a slight accent and with dark eyes that are uncompromising but hint at generosity - but only if you cut it. What reinforces the impression is that contestants only get the right to cook for him once his NCO chefs have weeded out the unworthy. He also looks intense to the point of being a bit obsessively nuts, like all great chefs.

His comments are straight down the line and obviously drenched in vast experience. To be taught by him really would be a privilege. This helps explain why the Roux clan (his father Albert and uncle Michel Sr. complete the trio) appear as such éminences grises in the autobiographies of our star chefs.

The Roux have something of a mythical status in these memoirs. Almost all of these prima donnas, egomaniacs, hell-raisers, slave-drivers, and geniuses seem to have passed through their kitchens at some point. And what's more, despite the notorious bitchiness of the business, whilst it wouldn't be correct to say they don't have a bad word to say about them, they're obviously universally respected.

T and I have experienced Albert's hospitality - we were married, had lunch and stayed overnight at the Waterside Inn at Bray. I can't speak highly enough of the place. Whilst costing a few bob, I can say with conviction it was superb value for money. The lunch was simply the best I've ever had and you can't ask for more on a day like that. They were also incredibly tolerant of our little boy, nine months old and full of beans as he was. If you want an experience on a budget the three course set lunch used to cost about £24. As this is three-star Michelin cooking il vaut le detour - particularly on a sunny day when the riverside setting is a delight in itself.


* Having seen this post T has confessed that one of the attractions of Masterchef Professional is the 'pointy, cutie French looks' of M. Roux. Readers of this blog may know that this sort of thing has already made her a loyal fan of the French rugby team. "Ah, the little cuties have got an H!" Allez les Bleus indeed.

13 comments:

Brit said...

I find people who take cooking very seriously very hard to take seriously. Anyone could do the job of that bald cockney nobhead.

...The beef was wellcooked wellseasoned but the salad didn't need that overcomplicated orange and goose-shit sauce and the dish didn't really hang together for me we're looking for the best of ther best someone who can cook for a restaurant with TWO MICHELIN F****G STARS yes all right we get it already...

Gaw said...

By Jesus, you're rearing up. Beatlemania-deniers, poets, watercolourists, chefs (who admittedly are better able to take care of themselves): who will be the next quaking object of your implacable ire?

And what happened to the mellowing influence of fatherhood? Sleeplessness getting to you, eh?

Mind you, it sounds as if you're still watching MastChefProf...

Brit said...

Wait til you see what I've got say about X-Factor.

worm said...

I think the word that Michael Roux Jr. conjours up in me is 'prissy'.

you know they always say never trust a skinny chef

I also think he looks a little bit like a gecko

I used to live about half a mile out of Bray and went to the Waterside a few times -it's where I too had my best ever lunch! The meal itself was amazing value as you say, shame the two bottles of wine I bought took it up to a rather scary amount indeed. (for a 24 year old - I nearly cried when I saw the bill)

Fat duck was good for lunch too, but even more expensive. Preferred Waterside

Sean said...

Food Porn. Makes you feel inadequate.
The bald cockney knobhead belongs in porn, like phil in eastenders caught dogging in France...which brings me to roux.

Michel Roux Jr (born Michel Albert Roux on 23 May, 1960 in England)
I will put that down to Garnish?

Gaw said...

Chaps, I think there's a bit of jealousy going on here - the ladies rate him. If he looked like Martin Johnson my guess is you wouldn't have a problem.

Worm, never fancied the Fat Duck - I tend to enjoy meals that are clearly identifiable as food.

Gadjo Dilo said...

I use to enjoy the foody progs when I lived in Blighty, but the best culinary experience I can get here is Hubertus "hunters restaurent" - everything's shot in the wild (but then served up with the usual potatoes, cabbage and molten pig fat...)

Has Jamie Oliver gone bald?

Gaw said...

Gadjo: Mmm, Hubertus sounds as much of a hunting programme as a cooking one. Could be a fresh new format for over here - I'd give Endemol a call and make the pitch. Ainsley Harriot wielding a crossbow has got to be box office.

Brit said...

I meant this bald cockney nobhead. He's such a nobhead.

Gaw said...

But he used to do Veg Talk on Radio 4! Anyone who can fill 30 minutes discussing vegetables has my respect. He also sometimes says 'yummy' which I find amusingly incongruous.

Anyway, if he was green and had ears on the top of his head everyone would love him.

Sean said...

Hughs the man at river cottage, ANYONE who can cook Pike to an edible condition deserves the utmost of respect.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Veg Talk was excellent, I'm with GAW on that. How about a new Radio 4 programme that goes on for 30 minutes about bald cockney knobheads?

Gaw said...

Sean: What I admire about Hugh is the steely ambition and will to command that sometimes peeks out from beneath his cuddly curls. Don't forget he's an Etonian and therefore born to rule: the feudal lord of River Cottage.

Gadjo: Some of my best friends are bald cockney nobheads.