On my day off, after swapping the winter tires on the hybrid, I found myself thinking about Rose Gray of the Michelin starred and well-regarded River Cafe in London. This past weekend, she passed away after a long bout with cancer. Rose’s dedication to simplicity and local quality ingredients, truly left her mark on British gastronomy. I was fortunate to have met her, own many of her books and enjoyed the River Cafe experience more than once.
Many great cooks and chefs have trained at the River Cafe under Rose. Jamie Oliver, April Bloomfield and Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall are some of the better known, though hundreds have passed through those kitchen doors. When I first met Rose at the beginning of the millenium, I was working in London at Vong in the Berkeley Hotel. We were doing an off site event at the Battersea Power Station for the Cirque du Soleil and I had the good fortune of meeting Rose. Most of the top restaurants around town were there and after a relaxed evening of banging out a few thousand canapes for VIPs and fancy schmancy London types, all the cooks and chefs spent a couple of hours cleaning up, drinking too much Champagne, tasting each other’s food and talking a little shop. Rose Gray was exceptionally friendly and open; she was the epitome of a good-hearted, humble, dedicated restaurateur and her grace and generosity will always be remembered.
Rest in peace Rose and thank you for your inspiration. The tagliatelle (house made tagliatelle, roquette, speck, Parmigiano-Reggiano, vintage estate olive oil) I enjoyed at the River Cafe, changed the way I looked at pasta forever. For that, I will always be grateful.