8th November: Raymond Blanc
Raymond is simply one of the finest chefs in the world. His exquisite cooking has received tributes from every national and international guide to culinary excellence that there is.
His story began Besançon, the capital of the Franche-Comté region in eastern France, between Burgundy and the Jura mountains, where Raymond was born. He was inspired by the local terroir, and most of all by his mother, the formidable Maman Blanc who used fresh, local and seasonal produce to create meals for the family; wholesome meals full of goodness and love.
In the summer of 1972, Raymond arrived in England to work as a waiter at the Rose Revived restaurant in Oxfordshire. One day, when the chef was ill, Raymond took over the kitchen. At that very moment, his career was born.
Raymond has gone on to open Michelin star restaurants and in 1991 established The Raymond Blanc Cookery School to share his culinary knowledge. Based within Le Manoir’s kitchens, the school welcomes enthusiastic amateurs and professional cooks, as well as children, providing the opportunity for home cooks to develop their skills in a relaxed and friendly environment.
In 1996, Raymond opened his first Le Petit Blanc brasserie in Oxford. More brasseries followed. In 2006 the group was re-launched as Brasserie Blanc and there are now some 20 restaurants across England. The brasseries offer French classics and modern dishes, all made with fresh and seasonal ingredients. Each of the brasseries is a place to relax, and enjoy 'real French food, close to home' and at affordable prices.
In 2008, Raymond was awarded an honorary OBE (Order of the British Empire) by Her Majesty the Queen, in recognition of his services in promoting culinary excellence and for raising awareness about the importance of healthy food as a central element of family life. In 2013 he was awarded the insignia of Chevalier in the ordre national de La Légion d’Honneur, the highest French decoration.
Never one to guard his secrets and passion, Raymond has championed and nurtured some of the country’s most respected chefs personally in his kitchens, including such names as Marco Pierre White, Michael Caines, Bruno Loubet, Eric Chavot and Ollie Dabbous. Some 26 of his protégées have gone on to win Michelin stars for themselves. It is no wonder that in 2005 he was voted AA’s Chefs’ Chef of the Year