The Crumber

Michel Roux Jr, the chef patron of the two-Michelin-starred Le Gavroche in London, reflects on the humble crumber, an essential tool in the ritual of fine dining

I’m not sure where the first crumb scraper (or ‘table crumber’) was used, but it’s become a staple for any formal restaurant. We use a modern incarnation at Le Gavroche that is as small as a pencil, but some of the older ones I’ve seen are amazing – silver and ornate and decorated with the most beautiful detail. They’ve been adapted over the years by adding a brush, and then a roller. Now they are more discrete, which, I think, is better.

There’s a ritualistic aspect to waiting staff coming to your table and deftly sweeping away any bits of debris that may have escaped from your plate, although I do think some restaurants overdo it a little; unless you don’t have a bread plate, there’s no need to crumb in between every course. In my opinion, you should do it after the main course. It marks a moment, that transition from savoury to sweet, in the refreshing of the table.

Fewer restaurants now use tablecloths, so there is less need for a crumber, but I feel the humble crumb scraper offers a real sense of occasion, of distinctiveness, that will always have a place in dining.

Photography Jack Orton

This article is taken from issue 23. To buy the issue or subscribe, click here.