Chef Michel Roux Jr sent shockwaves through a nation of French food fanatics when he revealed he’d be closing his Michelin-starred eatery in London, despite it winning a string of awards – and diners have been in tears in his presence while contemplating its closure.
However, the former Saturday Kitchen star has explained in an exclusive new interview with Express.co.uk that he yearns to spend more time with his family.
“The lease is coming to an end, I’m getting to the ripe old age of 63 – 64 next year – [and] my daughter’s given me two lovely bouncy grandchildren, so I want to spend more time with them,” he explained.
“I just feel it’s right for the restaurant to come to an end, and it’s coming to an end on my terms… it’s my choice,” he declared.
Le Gavroche was regularly packed full of diners keen to sample the restaurant voted Most Consistently Excellent by Tatler Magazine, and Michel admits he’s made many “fond memories” there.
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Admitting that some diners have been in tears during their meals, he mused: “Le Gavroche means so much to so many people.
“There’s celebratory moments of joy and happiness every day at the moment when I go around to the tables and see everyone.
“There’s very often tears in their eyes [when they’re] telling us about, for instance, how they got engaged here and have been coming here every year since, and families [have been] coming together at the restaurant and sharing wonderful moments.”
Despite the massive emotion the venue has inspired, Michel has confirmed there’ll be no going back on his decision to close when the lease ends in January.
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However, he has vowed the iconic eatery will “go out with a bang”.
Foodies can also be sure they haven’t seen the last of the brand, as he announced plans to take it “on the road” with a series of residences in the future.
Michel has also struck a deal with cruise ship brand Cunard and is expected to hop on board to cook “lots of delicious things” on the newly launched ship The Queen Anne.
He’s also made a recent appearance at the BBC Good Food Winter show, where he reunited with fellow food stars including Dave Myers and Si King of the Hairy Bikers and James Martin of Saturday Kitchen.
Michel praised James, who recently opened up about his traumatic battle with facial cancer, for the form he has displayed on his ITV show.
Labelling his long stint on Saturday Kitchen an “incredible feat”, he explained: “He’s a great guy, and he’s a fantastic producer [and] fantastic presenter.
“Doing the Good Food Show together is always a wonderful time to catch up with him.”
James has announced he’ll be taking a break from his television duties soon to focus on his health, but has vowed to come back “fighting” by the end of January.
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