After 40 years in the food industry, Michel Roux Jr has done it all – well, almost.
The two-Michelin starred chef will notch up another achievement this year when he takes his restaurant Le Gavorche to sea. Roux Jr is the star attraction for luxury cruise line Cunard's inaugural ‘Festival of Food & Wine’ on board Queen Mary 2, taking place over its seven-night Transatlantic Crossing, 7–14 June 2020.
Roux Jr will host a series of dinners in The Verandah restaurant, as well as a three-course signature gala menu in the Britannia Grill.
He will be joined by Le Gavroche executive chef Rachel Humphrey, and will also hold a cooking demonstration and a Q&A during the crossing.
We spoke to the celebrated chef about this unique collaboration.
How did the Cunard x Le Gavroche collaboration come about?
I was having dinner with my good friend Will Lyons (wine columnist at The Times) and he told me he was headlining and suggested I should too! We threw around some ideas… agreed it would be the collaboration of 2020 and by the end of dessert, I think we’d designed the bones of a menu!
To be honest, taking Le Gavroche to sea for the very first time was incredibly appealing to me. The opportunity to dine in incredible surroundings whilst travelling the waters to New York was an opportunity I couldn’t resist.
Talk us through the onboard experiences – there seems to be a lot of amazing stuff happening beyond the menu...
Will and another of my good friends, Lisa Markwell, will be hosting a series of talks. The respected wine critic Steven Spurrier will be giving some interesting industry insight, which I’ll be looking forward to attending.
I’ve been told that guests can also gain their WSET Level 1 award on board with the Cunard Wine Academy, which is a great opportunity for any budding wine enthusiasts.
I'll be hosting an interactive Q&A and 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.
What are the challenges of taking fine dining to sea?
Thankfully, Cunard is renowned for its on-board service, and serving meals for all guests on board is something they do day in, day out. It’s just a manner of adapting it to serve dishes from Le Gavroche’s 53-year repertoire.
I was very happy to hear that the kitchens on board are much larger than the kitchen at Le Gavroche, and team is equipped to concoct all manner of culinary delights 24 hours a day, so I don’t think there will be any challenges.
I’m actually really looking forward to seeing the galley in action, it’s so interesting to see what goes into an operation of this scale and how it all come together. The only challenge will be if I fall seasick!
Have you been on a cruise before? What are you most looking forward to?
I’ve actually never been on a cruise before. I consider myself incredibly lucky to be able to start with the very best.
The transatlantic crossing is an iconic voyage in itself, and I’m very much looking forward to undertaking it in such luxury. I’m also really looking forward to serving some of Le Gavroche’s iconic dishes that our guests have loved for years – to have the opportunity to take them transatlantic is so special and a real privilege.
In a world of aviation, why do you think cruises have such an enduring appeal?
I think generally, when you fly somewhere, it’s simply about getting from A to B. On a cruise, the journey itself is part of experience, and a holiday in itself. Particularly when you travel with a company as iconic as Cunard, whose voyages and ships are legendary. There’s such a vast array of things to do and see, you’ll never get bored.
It’s also a very welcome opportunity for lots of people to switch off from the outside world, which I think we need more of in this day and age.
Historically speaking, there’s something quite romantic about taking a cruise that I think people love, and will continue to for years to come.
Don't want to jinx... but will iceberg lettuce be on the menu?
Definitely not! I am not superstitious but let’s not tempt fate…!
For more info, see Cunard