Roux father and son dish up treat for Shipbourne Farmers’ Market

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THE world’s most famous chef family went back to their roots in Shipbourne to lay on a special charity dinner – and raised £15,000 for a variety of worthy causes, including the local church.

Michel Roux Jnr and his father Albert returned to the village near Tonbridge to celebrate the 15th birthday of Shipbourne Farmers’ Market.

They catered for 170 local guests at The Chaser Inn, and the proceeds will go to the St Giles’ Church Restoration Fund, Nourish Foodbank in Tunbridge Wells and South Tonbridge, the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution and All Saints Community Project Trust in Chatham.

Albert was chef at the Fairlawne estate for eight years from 1959 for Peter Cazalet, who trained racehorses for the royal family.

Michel, who is well known as a TV presenter on MasterChef: The Professionals, was born there in 1960 and went to school at Shipbourne Primary.

The family moved up to London in 1967, when Albert and his brother, Michel Snr, opened the renowned Le Gavroche with the Cazalets’ help.

Talking about Shipbourne, Michel told the guests: ‘Back in the 60s there was a pub, a school with 30 kids and a cricket club, and that was it. And it hasn’t changed much now.’

He reminisced about fishing for pike in the River Bourne to make paté and foraging for mushrooms, snails and watercress, and said: ‘It was an idyllic place for a boy to explore.

‘It was a world of everyday feasts and family gatherings. My mother did the cooking at home and we ate classic French country-style cuisine – braised sweetbreads and blanquette de veau [braised veal] – unheard of then in Britain.

‘My father reared rabbits and pigeons for the table and we used to go ferreting together. He kept ferrets down his trousers in the good old-fashioned way.’

Peter’s son, Sir Edward Cazalet, who is patron of St Giles’, told the diners: ‘Albert lifted cooking in this country from the hangover of austerity and rationing from the war to the high cuisine of French cooking at its best. He has done more for English cooking that any other man alive.

‘There were particular dishes that Albert created which were a delight to the Queen Mother on her visits to Fairlawne, when Albert would regularly chat with her.’

Father and son were given the challenge to prepare a meal using ingredients solely from the Farmers’ Market. Only the red wine, from Michel Roux’s own vineyards, was not sourced locally.

The market, which is held at the church on Thursday mornings, has won the ‘Best in Kent’ award four times.

Students from West Kent College in Tonbridge helped to prepare the food and train as waiters.

Sir Edward’s children, opera singer Hal and TV actor Lara, entertained the guests with a cabaret.

PICTURE: MASTER CHEFS: Michel Roux Jnr recalls his Shipbourne childhood while Albert looks on

The Menu

Cream of Asparagus, Winterdale Shaw cheese custard, cobnuts


Guinea fowl and carrot pie, spring cabbage, cured bacon


Charred cauliflower, spiced carrot, broad beans, spring onions and houmous (V)


Lemon posset, Earl Grey tea granité, strawberries

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