WORLD renowned chef and TV personality Michel Roux Jr granted aspiring cooks at Uxbridge College a special audience, candidly speaking about his rise to the top.
The Michelin-starred chef visited the campus in College Way, Hayes, last Wednesday to talk to the awestruck students about his early years in the industry, before giving them some valuable tips and answering questions.
In recent years, Mr Roux has forged himself a successful TV career - fronting the BAFTA award-winning Masterchef: The Professionals, and more recently his own BBC Two show, Michel Roux's Service - but he was frank about his thoughts on the 'celebrity chef'.
He told the Gazette: "I used to refuse all TV opportunities that came my way, and I feel that a lot of it is just cheap, pantomime TV that makes a mockery of my profession.
"I have always said yes to Masterchef. It is the right vehicle for me, and it's something I am really proud of. It showcases the industry for what it is - passionate cooks taking great pride in their work."
Mr Roux, known for his exacting standards in the kitchen, runs La Gavroche in London's Mayfair,
Britain's first Michelin-starred restaurant opened in 1967 by his father, Albert, and uncle, Michel.
Speaking about taking on the family business in 1991, he said: "It was a huge ask for me to take over such a revered name in the business.
"There have been ups and downs, and at times its reputation weighed on my shoulders, but it was a challenge that I managed to rise to over time."
He added: "It is a high-pressure job, and to succeed you need dedication and focus."
Nineteen-year-old William Baker, who is taking his diploma in professional cookery, said: "When we were told that he was going to be coming to the college, I was really excited. Out of all the chefs, Michel Roux is definitely one of my biggest inspirations.
"It's not everyday that you can get advice from one of the world's top chefs - it was really useful."
James Orford, catering and hospitality manager at the college, said the chef's visit was a 'privilege' and added: "We were all spellbound listening to tales from his career.
"Our professional catering students learned so much from him, including great tips on everything from how not to cook a kangaroo's tail to how to succeed in industry.
"Michel's visit has proved a real inspiration to staff and students alike."