19 November 1949 |
Raymond Blanc OBE (born 19 November 1949) is a French chef born in Besançon, the capital of the Franche-Comté region in eastern France, between Burgundy and the Jura mountains. He grew up in Saône, a village just east of there. Today he is one of Britain's most respected chefs. Blanc is the owner and chef at Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons, a hotel-restaurant in Great Milton, Oxfordshire, England. The restaurant has two Michelin stars and scored 9/10 in the Good Food Guide. He is entirely self-taught, but has himself taught or employed other chefs including Heston Blumenthal, John Burton-Race, Michael Caines, Paul Liebrandt, and Marco Pierre White.
While his two sisters were taught to cook by the influential Maman Blanc, his father taught Blanc and his two brothers to work in the kitchen garden. His father gave him a colander and foraging map for his 10th birthday, and what he collected his mother taught him to cook.
Training as a waiter, Blanc worked at the Michelin-starred Le Palais de la Bière in Besançon. In 1972 he was fired for upsetting the head chef (Blanc had offered him advice on how to cook), but the manager knew of a job in England.
Not speaking English well enough to survive without a notepad, he was dispatched to The Rose Revived in Newbridge, Oxfordshire, arriving three days after landing at Dover in his Renault 5 Gordini. Blanc married the owner's daughter Jenny, and the couple had two sons.
Before striking out on his own in 1977, Blanc worked for a time under chef patron André Chavagnon, who had opened a French restaurant, La Sorbonne, in Oxford High Street in 1966.
In 1977, the Blancs opened Les Quat' Saisons in a row of modern shops in Summertown, Oxford: "We mortgaged the house, owed 18 further people, and opened in a corridor between a lingerie shop and Oxfam". An overnight success, he won "Egon Ronay Guide Restaurant of the Year", two Michelin stars and a host of other distinctions.
In 1981, Blanc opened La Maison Blanc, a chain of boulangeries and pâtisseries that also contain cafès. There are 14 branches of Maison Blanc across the country[clarification needed], including several in London and one in Oxford. Maison Blanc cakes are available nationwide in Waitrose.
In 1983, Blanc purchased a manor-house in the Oxfordshire village of Great Milton where he opened Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons, a country house hotel and double Michelin starred restaurant. Awarded five AA stars and with a score of 19/20 from respected French guide Gault Millau, Le Manoir describes itself as "one of the ultimate gastronomic destinations in the country".
Blanc opened Le Petit Blanc, the first of a chain of smaller restaurants, in Oxford in June 1996. Blanc's stated aim with these was to bring the French philosophy of "good food being central to good living" to the United Kingdom. His desire was to create and serve food that can be enjoyed by everyone – "from the time-conscious business person to those looking for a welcoming family restaurant".
Blanc suffered two mini strokes when he was 42, believed to have been brought on by stress and overwork 
In June 2003, after nearly losing the chain to his ex-wife Jenny as part of his divorce settlement, the four Le Petit Blanc Brasseries (now known as Brasserie Blanc) in Birmingham (which closed in 2008), Cheltenham, Manchester and Oxford became part of the Loch Fyne Restaurant Group portfolio. Blanc maintains a share in the business, and continues to be involved creating new menus, developing the chef and kitchen teams and participating in the promotion of the restaurants. Since 1996, Raymond has opened the following Brasserie Blancs:
- 1996 - Opening of Le Petit Blanc brasserie, Oxford. Awarded one Michelin Star in its first year and classed amongst the ten best restaurants in the country, in 2006 it was re-launched as Brasserie Blanc
- 1998 - Cheltenham
- 1999 - Birmingham (closed 2008)
- 2000 - Manchester
- 2004 - Tunbridge Wells (closed 2009)
- 2007 - Leeds and Milton Keynes
- 2008 - Bristol and Winchester
- 2009 - Portsmouth
- 2010 - Chichester and Threadneedle Street, London
- 2012 - Bath, Berkhamsted, St Albans and Chancery Lane, Charlotte Street, Covent Garden, St Paul’s and Tower Hill in London
In March 2013, Raymond Blanc made the news with Mayor of London Boris Johnson, to publicise a scheme to get young people into the food and hospitality industry. Blanc took on twenty-one apprentices across the Brasserie Blanc Restaurants.
Chefs trained by Blanc
Blanc has taught or employed many other future chefs and restaurateurs, including:
- Sat Bains
- John Burton-Race
- Heston Blumenthal
- Michael Caines
- Elisha Carter
- Éric Chavot
- William Curley
- JJ Goodman
- David Goodridge
- Paul Heathcote
- Paul Liebrandt
- David Moore
- Marco Pierre White
Raymond Blanc has made numerous appearances on many major television stations, during prime time viewing, in the UK. These include his own series Food & Drink in 1987, Take Six Cooks in 1986 and Masterchef in 1990, 1991, 1992, 1995 & 1998, as well as ‘The Restaurant’, a BBC 2 series hosted by Raymond where nine couples competed to win their own restaurant.
On 13 January 2007, he appeared on Saturday Kitchen. In the Omelette Challenge, he came out last because he took the longest to cook an omelette. However, he was nudged up a few places by James Martin, right above Ken Hom, as Blanc produced a black truffle out of his pocket and garnished the finished omelette with truffle shavings.
Summer 2007 saw the BBC promotion for his new reality TV programme The Restaurant airing on UK television. (The show is known to BBC America viewers in the US as Last Restaurant Standing). The promo showed a group of well-dressed diners in a slow-motion food fight, to a Gonzales backing track. The show was aired as part of BBC Two's autumn season in 2007 and returned, with minor changes to the format, in 2008. In 2009, The Restaurant returned to BBC Two in a low-budget format. This season has been much criticised for the poor standard of contestants, for neglecting the successful elements of previous series, and for Blanc choosing as the winner a team without any discernible culinary ability outside of making cocktails.
1985 “Take Six Cooks”
1987 ‘Food & Drink’ Six part series on BBC2
1994 ‘Blanc Mange’ Six part BBC2 series on food and chemistry
2000 ‘Friends for Dinner’ Six part BBC2 series with high profile chefs participating in individual episodes
2001 to 2007 BBC Radio 4 Discussing topical industry issues, including organic produce
2001 Newsnight Foot and Mouth issues - appeared with representatives from the Soil Association and the National Farmers Union
2001 SKY News Relevant and topical industry issues
2001 ‘Housecall’ BBC1 daytime programme, hosted by Lowri Turner. RB appeared on a few of the shows ‘cooking slots’
2002 “Passion for Perfection” Twelve part Carlton Television series
2004 “So What Do You Do All Day” Dedicated episode of BBC Two series, which follows a high profile professional through a typical working day
2007 BBC ‘The Restaurant’ – Series 1 Eight part BBC Two series. Nine couples are put through their paces to see if they have what it takes to run their own restaurant in a brand new television series.
2008 BBC ‘The Restaurant’ – Series 2 Over eight weeks, nine couples compete to win a restaurant personally supported By Raymond Blanc.
2009 BBC ‘The Restaurant’ – Series 3
2010 BBC Kitchen Secrets Cookery show with a range of achievable and inspirational recipes for cooks of all abilities.
2011 BBC Kitchen Secrets 2 Second series of cookery show with a range of achievable and inspirational recipes for cooks of all abilities
2011 BBC Raymond Blanc's Christmas Feast
2012 BBC 2 The Very Hungry Frenchman
2013 BBC 2 Raymond Blanc: How to Cook Well. Series of 6 half hour programmes
Blanc also made a guest appearance on the BBC sitcom Miranda in Episode 5 of the third series
Blanc is the author of several books, including Cooking for Friends and Foolproof French Cookery.
- chris, west mids, 2 years ago Best food show on the box 0 (2011-03-06). "Raymond Blanc: I got away with a lot, and I learned very early on how to charm the ladies | Mail Online". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-01-06.
- Sims, Josh (2012-12-11). "Raymond Blanc: A Franc Discussion of Fine Food". Billionaire.com. Retrieved 2013-04-21.
- Hibbert, Christopher (1988). The Encyclopædia of Oxford. London: Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-39917-X.
- "A man for all seasons". BMI Voyager. 1 March 2011. Retrieved 7 September 2011.
- "Home". Maison Blanc. Retrieved 2014-01-06.
- [dead link]
- John Crace. "Raymond Blanc: 'People are confused by my accent. Some English diners thought I was from Liverpool' | Life and style". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-01-06.
- Lodge, Alan (2008-02-15). "City Centre Rates force Blanc out of Brum". Bighospitality.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-01-06.
- "Losses blamed for closure of top restaurant". This is Kent. 2009-04-04. Retrieved 2014-01-06.
- "Brasserie Blanc Blog » Blog Archive » Raymond Blanc opens Brasserie Blanc Charlotte Street". Brasserieblanc.com. 2012-08-30. Retrieved 2014-01-06.
- Joe, Melinda (31 May 2013). "Why it matters where our food comes from". The Japan Times. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
- "Raymond Blanc takes on 21 apprentices". The Handbook. March 7, 2013.
- "Great Chefs".
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Raymond Blanc|
- Raymond Blanc official website
- Great Chefs
- Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons Great Milton, Oxfordshire. RB's 2 star Michelin restaurant
- Hub UK biography
- Social Issues Research Centre article on Blanc's war on sugar
- Who's Who of Chefs information
- Interview with Raymond Blanc OBE