The First Master Chef Michel Roux on Escoffier


“Auguste was born in a small village called Villeneuve-Loubet, very close to Nice. So at the age of thirteen, he goes and starts working at his uncle’s restaurant with no privileges, like everybody else, and he discovers the pretty awful working conditions that were normal life in the kitchen in those days.

That ended up in some violence at the end of the day, I suppose. So this is one of the things Escoffier decided to change when he was in charge.

He met a gentleman who owned a very famous restaurant at that time, called the Petit Moulin Rouge. A very poche restaurant off the Champs Elysees. And Auguste thought ‘well if I want to make it in this profession, it’s my opportunity.’ and he took it.

He first of all banned alcohol drinking and smoking in the kitchen, but also banned swearing. And he himself, when he was very annoyed at someone, would actually walk out of the kitchen and come back and explain what made him angry without having to shout.

He introduced the hat and the hankerchief to prevent sweat drops from dropping into the preparation.

He wanted everyone to come out and look like somebody. That is his exact expression. And if the young cooks couldn’t afford a pair of trousers, he bought them for them.

He wanted everyone to be proud of what he was doing and bring the best out of everyone.”
Michel Escoffier, great grandson of Auguste Escoffier and custodian of the Escoffier Archive

Michel Roux Jr explores the life and influence of his great culinary hero, Georges Auguste Escoffier