A YORK restaurateur has paid tribute to the legendary chef who helped him start out in the industry.

Michael Hjort, who founded Melton’s restaurant in Scarcroft Road in York,and is also the proprietor of Walmgate Ale House and The Chopping Block restaurant has spoken of the death of chef and restaurateur Albert Roux died at the age of 85.

The French-born founder of the Michelin-starred Le Gavroche was part of the Roux culinary dynasty and died on January 4 after a lengthy illness.

Mr Hjort, who is the director of York Food Festival, said: “I am joining many in paying tribute to an industry legend, who had done more than anyone to promote catering as a serious undertaking.

“His legacy lives on through the thousands who have benefited from his guidance, including myself.

“I first met Albert Roux in 1983, for a job interview. As a graduate without a career, I had been met with incredulity by hospitality professionals when I said I would want to work as a professional chef. They claimed the only way to start was as a catering college student with a class of 16 year olds. Fortunately I was well aware of exceptions to this rule, but not how to join them. Consequently I wrote to the editor of the Good Food Guide and asked for advice. ‘Go straight to the top’ he said and so I wrote to Albert Roux.

“Mr Roux was extremely curious and entirely helpful. ‘No’ - catering college was unlikely to be a great option, but ‘yes’ - I could start in one of his satellite operations - Paris House in Woburn. I went from there to work in London with Rowley Leigh at Le Poulbot, before moving on to work in the City with Albert’s son Michel Jr at the Director’s dining rooms the Rouxs ran for Kleinwort Benson.

“All this time Albert was there in the background running the whole show. Generally I met him giving pep talks to those who ran his satellite operations in the City - I had been promoted to run a small one in 1987.

“He was notoriously firm, and exacting, but not unfair - although I have been left with a lasting aversion to detailed stock-taking, and had it indelibly printed in my mind that that the Grouse season does not extend into January.

“Every Raspberry Souffle we served, brought him to mind over the passing years, and will continue to do so.”