Restaurateur Roux: Why I'm opening in Inverness – and ditching the tablecloths

WHEN legendary chef Albert Roux decided to open his first restaurant in Scotland, the seemingly obvious choices of Edinburgh and Glasgow were not on the menu.

Instead, the multi award-winning Roux, one of the most influential characters in the profession, is taking over the kitchen in an upmarket hotel in Inverness.

On Wednesday, he opens Chez Roux in the five-star Rocpool Reserve, having been approached shortly after the hotel was acquired by an investment group which also owns Inverlochy Castle in Fort William.

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The arrival of Roux, 74, who has taught the likes of Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White and Martin Wishart, adds to the growing culinary reputation of Inverness, which a few years ago had few high-quality eating places.

The Frenchman will oversee the food and wine at his new venture, visiting four to six times a year, for two or three days at a time. While in the area, he will also teach local schoolchildren the culinary arts.

The opening comes almost 50 years after Roux first visited the Highland capital. In 1961, while in his twenties, he and his young family toured Scotland in the family Mini-Minor.

He told The Scotsman: "We couldn't afford to stay in hotels so we stayed in B&Bs and had a smashing time.

"We went from Inverness to Glencoe, to the Isle of Skye and to Oban. We have such wonderful memories. There wasn't much in the way of fine dining then, just good, hearty food.

"I fell in love with the place. I love Scots people; they are very warm-hearted. I find a strong affinity with them, perhaps because I'm a Celt."

So what can Invernessians expect of Chez Roux? "We will be cooking what I love to eat – simple, hearty food," he said. "We will be using local ingredients as much as possible because you have an abundance of good ingredients in Scotland which, unfortunately, is often ignored.

"It's there – the products of the sea I'm talking about – but I know the best stuff gets exported. The French have picked up on it and the Germans and Spanish are there with their lorries.

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"However there are ways and means and we will pay a premium for it." Roux said the cost of dining out was also important, particularly during a recession. "If you haven't got a lot of fuss, it's easier," he said. "There will be no tablecloths, for example. A tablecloth costs 150, so we are returning that money to the client. We should therefore be affordable to a lot of people in Inverness."

The veteran believes diners have become more discerning in these days of wall-to-wall cookery programmes, but said some TV chefs could not even cook an omelette.

"Some of them have gone into restaurants and gone bankrupt. Some of them would not be earning the money they earn if they were making omelettes because they can't even cook a bloody omelette. But they are on telly.

"You have to judge these shows on how many people watch them and there are a multitude of them. It can only be good for the industry if there is a lot of interest.

"Customers now are more astute and if the food is not up to scratch, they will tell you. Before it was, 'It's all right, I don't want to complain'. It keeps chefs on their toes."


Cream of spinach and watercress – 4.50

Frise salad with lardons and poached egg – 5.00

Compote of rabbit with mustard – 6.50

Gruyre cheese souffl – 7.50

Pike quenelle with lobster sauce – 9.00

Sea trout fillet with capers, lemon and crouton – 13.00

Scallop of salmon with fresh sorrel sauce – 14.50

Free-range corn-fed chicken cooked in vinegar – 12.50

Slow-cooked beef cheek – 14.00

Beef skirt with marrowbone and red wine – 14.50

Rabbit leg with mustard – 15.00

Croustillant of chocolate with hazelnuts – 6.00

Lyonnaise waffles – 6.00

Classic lemon tart – 6.00

Cheese selection – 9.00



came to the UK aged 18 to work as a commis de cuisine at Cliveden. He spent a year at the French Embassy in London then

became sous chef at the British Embassy in Paris before returning to the UK as chef to Major Peter Cazelet at the family estate in Kent.

The Cazelets and other friends encouraged and financially helped Albert to open his own restaurant, Le Gavroche, in 1967.