To celebrate a festive collaboration with The Langham hotel, we caught up with the globetrotting gastronome to talk classic French cooking, comfort food and why, when it comes to a roast, there’s nowhere like home
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in London, with the welcoming aroma of roasted chestnuts permeating the air and lights twinkling above our heads on Carnaby Street and Oxford Circus. This year we are full of festive cheer with the announcement of an exclusive collaboration with The Langham. Visitors can spot our seasonal suitcases in the five-star hotel’s festive displays as part of ‘The Langham Christmas Journey’.
In the spirit of journeys, we asked chef Michel Roux Jr, who oversees the creative culinary direction at The Langham, with its pub The Wigmore, his eponymous French restaurant Roux at The Landau, and the hotel’s new culinary school Sauce, to share his favourite food and travel stories with us…
What are some of your favourite countries and cities in the world?
Aside from London, my top place must be France. The Parisian food scene never fails to deliver delicious food and the sunshine in Provence is like no other. I’ve also really enjoyed spending time in Asia, and Hong Kong will always have a place in my heart. I spent time training there as a young chef in 1985 and it is food heaven. For a more relaxing holiday, however, Bird Island in the Seychelles is one of my absolute favourites. The breathtaking sunsets are truly beautiful, it feels like paradise.
Your style is classic French cooking with a modern twist. Why do you think French cuisine is so enduringly popular?
Well, you could argue that it was really the birthplace of classical cuisine, and the techniques rooted in French cooking can now be found in cuisines all over the world. At its heart, French cooking is decadent simplicity, which doesn’t really age. That’s part of the reason why we’ve had so many regular guests over the years coming back time and time again. The style might be modernised ever so slightly, but it remains true to the heart of French cuisine. There are also many wonderful regions across France that each contribute their own styles, which makes up an incredible collection of beautiful recipes and dishes that stand the test of time.
What are your other favourite global cuisines?
I have fairly wide tastes so couldn’t really narrow it down to one particular cuisine – there’s too much choice! I do however love the broad and extensive genre of Asian cuisine, and there are still so many countries in Asia that I would love to travel to and try.
Food-wise, what do you think Britain does better than any other country?
Over the last half-century or so, the food scene in London has totally transformed, becoming a glorious melting pot of culinary talent. Pick any cuisine from anywhere across the globe and you’ll find somewhere serving it brilliantly. This diversity is what Britain does best – that and the unbeatable Sunday roast.
What has been your most memorable meal abroad?
I’ve been lucky enough to have many, but I once stayed in a cottage in the middle of the vines at Klein Constantia in South Africa. It was a very special experience for me, and I don’t think I could ever forget it.
What is your go-to comfort food?
My wonderful wife Giselle’s homemade gratin dauphinois. Perhaps followed by a few pieces of high-quality dark chocolate…
What is your packing style?
Well-organised and methodical. I always pack some running gear when travelling, as I try to go for a run wherever I am in the world. It is a great way to get to grips with and see the sights of a town or city and I find running truly relaxing so try to fit it in as often as possible.
Do you collect any souvenirs when you travel?
The souvenirs I bring back are usually food-related. I scour the markets and fill my boots with spices or unusual knick-knacks that aren’t easily available back home.
What was the last book you read or film you watched on a long-haul flight?
I honestly can’t remember, but I wouldn’t be disappointed if Pulp Fiction or The Man Who Ate Everything by Jeffrey Steingarden accompanied me – they’re my all-time favourites.
Where is on your travel bucket list?
Dasheene in St Lucia. It has an excellent reputation and is at the top of my bucket list. Aside from that, South America is high on my list. It’s such a diverse continent and I’d love to see it all; from Cuba right to the tip of Argentina.