Michel Roux Jr. Talks Cunard, Kitchens and the Queen Mary 2

Author: Isabella Sullivan

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We’ll be queuing up when Michel Roux Jr opens his restaurant on Queen Mary 2. Here he talks kitchens, running and… honey

Few chefs have made such an impact on London’s food scene as Michel Roux Jr, who has been at the helm of London’s famous Le Gavroche for almost 30 years. Now, for one week only, the culinary star is swapping the kitchens of his two-Michelin starred Mayfair restaurant for the galleys of Cunard’s iconic Queen Mary 2.

Taking Le Gavroche to sea for a week-long festival of food and wine, Michel will be joined by leading wine writers, food editors and Cunard’s culinary team to treat passengers to a gastronomic transatlantic adventure from Southampton to New York.

Ahead of the cruise in June next year, we grabbed some time with Michel Roux Jr to see what’s in store for some lucky Cunard cruisers…

Michel Roux Jr: Le Gavroche
Michel Roux Jr will be bringing Le Gavroche to sea

Tell us about what you’ll get up to on the voyage…

For the first time ever, I’ll be taking Le Gavroche to sea. I’ll be offering a special five-course tasting menu of some of my favourite dishes in one of Cunard’s alternative dining venues, The Verandah, as well as designing a menu for one of the gala evenings in the main restaurants on board. Plus, guests on this crossing will be able to ask me any questions they’ve always wanted to ask
in an interactive Q&A session, whether that be tips for the perfect soufflé or what inspires me to create a new dish.

What are you looking forward to the most?

The transatlantic crossing is such a famous voyage, and I’m very excited to be doing it for the first time with Cunard. In such luxury too! Great food, great wine and great company – what more could I possibly ask for?

Michel Roux Jr
Guests can expect some special dishes from the legendary chef

Have you got any extra special dishes in store for Queen Mary 2’s guests?

I do indeed, but I’m not going to spoil the surprise! For now, I’ll just say that I will be cooking up some classic Le Gavroche dishes from its 53-year repertoire. There are some iconic dishes on our menu that our guests have loved for years – and to have the opportunity to take them transatlantic is incredible.

Have you ever cruised before?

No, never before – so where better to start than with the very best!

Is there any high-tech food equipment you’ll have to take with you on board, or do you think the ship’s kitchen will have all you need?

The kitchens on board are much larger than the kitchen at Le Gavroche, with the teams crafting all manner of culinary delights 24 hours a day, so I think I’ll be able to find everything I need. I’m really looking forward to seeing the galley in action. It’s fascinating to see what goes into an operation of this scale and how it all comes together.

Michel Roux Jr: Cunard's Queen Mary 2
Michel Roux Jr will sail the iconic transatlantic voyage

What is your first food memory?

I was pretty much brought up in a kitchen (I was nearly born in one!) so most of my childhood memories are food-related. Some of my earliest memories are of the smells of cooking when my father Albert worked in the Fairlawne Estate kitchen in Kent. My first foodie memory abroad is being in Spain as a child with my parents, eating honey straight from a honeycomb and ending up with sticky fingers and a sticky chin. I’ve always had such curiosity about food, and I was very lucky to be surrounded meals are always the ones shared with those you love. So to be honest, the best place to eat is probably my house.

You’ve travelled around the world for work, but is there anywhere still on your wish-list?

I’ve always loved Asia, but I’m yet to get to Cambodia and Vietnam. I’d love to go one day, they’re beautiful countries with such rich cultures, and naturally, there’s the French influence in their food that appeals to me.

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Vietnam is on Michel’s bucket list of places to visit

You must spend your life tasting food, but what is your favourite thing to eat?

I love dark chocolate – I couldn’t live without it. It has to be very high-quality, with minimum 70 per cent cocoa solids. Amadei Chuao is delicious. For me, it’s often the simple pleasures that are the best, so there’s nothing quite like coming home after a long day, putting my feet up, and sharing a square or two with my wife, Giselle. Perhaps with a glass of champagne, too!

Get on Board

7-night ‘Festival of Food and Wine’ cruise aboard Queen Mary 2, from Southampton to New York, departing 7 June 2020, from £1,249, cunard.com