Celebrated chef Albert Roux has left nothing in his will to his son Michel Roux Jr, the star of many TV programmes including the BBC’s MasterChef – but has instead given his high-flying wife almost 30 years his junior a third of his £652,000 estate.
Roux, who founded London’s legendary Le Gavroche restaurant which became the first in Britain to be awarded three Michelin stars, died in January aged 85, around two years after he married 57-year-old Maria Rodrigues.
According to newly published probate documents, Roux’s estate was worth £614,727 after his outstanding affairs were finalised. Of that, £224,727 will be served up to Maria, a high-flyer at City firm KPMG.
She was also bequeathed all his personal items, except for his sapphire cufflinks, which go to his nephew, Alain Roux, and his ruby cufflinks to his stepson, Joshua Rodrigues, who is also left a legacy of £15,000.
But perhaps surprisingly, Albert, who is credited with turning culinary superstars Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White into household names, left nothing in his will to his son Michel Roux Jr.
Just a few years earlier, the pair had planned on going into business together by transforming Brentwood’s iconic Post Office into their ‘ fine dining restaurant in Essex. Though applications to convert the building were approved by the council, the Roux camp went quiet on the project.
Albert left £55,000 to his sister Martine; £250,000 to his daughter, Danielle; £20,000 to his granddaughter Rosie; and £5,000 to three grandchildren. A niece also received £5,000. The will, written last year, states that Roux had given Michel many gifts over the years.
Celebrated chef Albert Roux, who turned Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White into culinary stars, left his wife Maria Rodrigues a large portion of his £652,000 estate
Surprisingly, perhaps, Albert, who founded Le Gavroche, the first restaurant in Britain to be awarded three Michelin stars, left nothing in his will to his son Michel Roux Jr
Albert Roux (left) pictured with his son, Michel Roux Jr (centre), and Michel’s daughter, Emily, at a restaurant opening in Scotland in 2016
Le Gavroche: London’s legendary restaurant which became the first in Britain to receive three Michelin stars
The exterior of Le Gavroche restaurant
Opened by Michel Roux Snr in Chelsea in 1967, the Le Gavroche restaurant became the first in Britain to win one, then two, then three Michelin stars.
It lost its third star in 1993 but still has a waiting list of up to three months and, with a tasting menu costing £215, including wine, it has earned a formidable reputation on the London culinary circuit.
Some of the most famous names in the industry have worked in its kitchens, including Pierre Koffmann, Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White and it was reportedly the Queen Mother’s favourite lunch spot.
Albert and Maria had wed after their first public outing, at a Restaurant Association dinner at the Savoy in London, where Roux used a walking cane.
One guest said: ‘Maria was very attentive to Albert all evening. She’s clearly given him a whole new lease of life.’
The wedding came four years after Roux divorced his second wife, Cheryl Smith, a statuesque Zimbabwean 21 years his junior.
She had met Roux a few years after his divorce from his first wife, Monique.
Cheryl, whose business success had earned her a £30million fortune of her own, later recalled how she had spurned his advances – initially, at least.
‘When I met Albert, he had seven girlfriends,’ she said. ‘I told him I would not be part of his harem.’ But Roux would not be rebuffed and they married in 2006.
But in 2013 the French chef became distracted by Nataliya Lutsyshyna, a 40-year-old Ukrainian who worked as a cloakroom attendant at his restaurant in Westminster.
Cheryl ordered Roux to leave their house in Belgravia and filed for divorce.
Alongside his brother Michel, Roux founded Le Gavroche in London in 1967, followed by The Waterside Inn in Bray in 1972.
Le Gavroche was the first restaurant in the UK to gain three Michelin stars.
Known for its classic take on French cuisine, Le Gavroche was the first restaurant in the UK to gain one, then two, and then three Michelin stars.
Albert’s death came nine months after that of his brother, aged 78, following a long battle with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
Born in the region of Saone et Loire in France on October 8, 1935, Roux began training as an apprentice patissier aged 14 before taking up a number of kitchen posts.
After serving in the military in Algeria, Roux worked as sous chef at the British Embassy in Paris, where he spent two years before leaving for the UK.
Roux married first wife Monique shortly after he turned 17. He had left school intending to become a priest, but quickly thought the better of it
In April 1967, Albert (pictured) and Michel opened Le Gavroche in Chelsea with only £3,000
And whatever happened to the ‘Brentwood Post Office restaurant’…?
Once tipped to be Albert Roux’s fine dining restaurant in Essex, plans were submitted to councillors to turn Brentwood’s iconic Post Office into a culinary extravaganza.
In 2014, the Roux camp submitted a planning application to transform the High Street building into a diners lounge and cocktail bar.
The application was even approved by the council – but the Roux camp never converted the Post Office and there was no further word on the project.
Speaking to EssexLive at the time, Albert said: ‘Brentwood is a beautiful town with a lot of extremely wealthy people who have an acquired taste for food over the years.
‘It has beautiful countryside. You are in the country and the old Post Office property is absolutely superb.
‘It’s not going to be expensive – we are not going to be reproducing a Gavroche restaurant.’
In April 1967, Albert and Michel opened Le Gavroche in Chelsea with only £3,000, borrowing the rest of the funds.
He was also known for the Roux Scholarship, an annual chef competition founded in 1982 with Michel, to enable a new generation of chefs in the UK to train in some of the greatest restaurants in the world.
In 1988, Albert’s son Michel Roux Jr joined Le Gavroche and over a period of years took over the day-to-day management of the restaurant. He is now the chef/patron.
Writing about the events of the past year – including Covid lockdowns and the death of his father and uncle – in the Evening Standard, Michel said: I’m an optimist and I don’t like to dwell on it, but this year I’ve watched an industry I’ve put my life into suffer, came close to closing a restaurant I’ve worked in on-and-off since I was a teenager, and borne the loss of my uncle and father. I might be confident for the future, but it’s not been easy.’
Ramsay was one of a number of future stars, including Marcus Wareing and Marco Pierre White, who trained at Roux’s Michelin-starred restaurant in Mayfair during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
He was later invited by Roux to join him at Hotel Diva, a ski resort in the French Alps, as his number two.
The pair remained close friends and have operated out of the same office building for the last decade.
Outside of the kitchen, Roux was a keen fisherman and enjoyed trips to the Scottish Highlands.
The Rouxs continue to run a small group of Chez Roux restaurants in a number of hotels in the region.