Craft / September 2018

Committed to Craft: The Balvenie Whisky and Michel Roux Jr Join Forces

Technology is to thank for much of the progress we’ve made in the modern age, but as a fruitful collaboration between The Balvenie Whisky and Michel Roux Jr reveals, no machine is a match for the hands-on nature of true craftsmanship.

Michel Roux Jr enjoying a tasting of The Balvenie's unique range of single malts.

In today’s increasingly fast-paced and frenzied society, there is a certain level of comfort in slowing things down and going back to basics. It’s all too easy to get distracted by the allure of ease and speed, the seduction of same-day delivery and drive-thru takeaways, the thrill of efficiency - but a true human touch involving the investment of time and attention to quality can never quite be matched.

Take it from Michel Roux Jr, the two-star Michelin chef at London’s Le Gavroche, whose long-held passion for cooking and love of food has informed his commitment to craftsmanship: “I have always believed that you need a solid foundation to be able to hone your craft and that true craftsmanship can never be overtaken by machines,” he tells me. “Yes, having machinery and the latest technology does have its benefits and it certainly makes aspects of cooking easier and quicker, enabling kitchens to be much more efficient. Some may call me old school, but I believe that every chef should have basic skills in the kitchen, regardless of whether you think you'll need them or not.”

Having spent the majority of his life working in some of the world’s best restaurants and being surrounded by top chefs, ultimately it is Michel’s ‘old school’ approach that continues to influence his cooking. His ethos is straightforward: “Be passionate, keep it simple, and never stop learning.” This attitude extends to every aspect of his career, and helps to determine who he chooses to work with. His long-held relationship with renowned whisky brand The Balvenie was forged from his ongoing pursuit of excellence and skill, and over the past few years, he has been collaborating with the distillery to create a six-part YouTube mini-series called The Craftsmen’s Dinner. The series explores the various elements of craft involved in The Balvenie and introduces the craftspeople responsible for specific processes at each stage. It provides valuable insight into the art of whisky making and the skills and techniques required for such a task, demonstrating the pure passion of the craftspeople and their tireless dedication to their crafts.

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Aobh O'Brien-Moody

Editorial Assistant at The Rake