Blanc at the 2019 Chelsea Flower Show
|Born||19 November 1949|
Raymond Blanc OBE (born 19 November 1949) is a French chef. Blanc is the chef patron 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); however, 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 branches of Brasserie Blanc:
- 1996 - 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 (closed 2016), 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
- Shaun Dickens
- David Goodridge
- Paul Heathcote
- David Chalton
- Marco Pierre White
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 and 1998, as well as The Restaurant, a BBC 2 series hosted by Blanc where nine couples competed to win their own restaurant.
On 13 January 2007, he appeared on Saturday Kitchen. In the Omelette Challenge, he finished 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.
In summer 2007, a BBC promotion for his new reality TV programme The Restaurant was shown 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 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 was 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 and 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. Blanc 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 - 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.
- 2008 - The Restaurant series 2 - Over eight weeks, nine couples compete to win a restaurant personally supported by Blanc.
- 2009 - The Restaurant series 3
- 2010 - Kitchen Secrets - BBC cookery show with a range of achievable and inspirational recipes for cooks of all abilities.
- 2011 - Kitchen Secrets 2 - Second series of cookery show with a range of achievable and inspirational recipes for cooks of all abilities
- 2011 - Raymond Blanc's Christmas Feast - BBC
- 2012 - The Very Hungry Frenchman - BBC 2
- 2013 - Raymond Blanc: How to Cook Well - Series of six half-hour programmes on BBC 2.
- 2015 - Kew on a Plate
- 2015 - Food and Drink - Appeared on 6 April 2015.
Blanc also made a guest appearance on the BBC sitcom Miranda in episode 5 of the third series.
Blanc has two sons, Olivier and Sebastien.
- 1988 - Recipes from Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons (MacDonald Orbis) ISBN 978-0356120775
- 1994 - Mange: The Mysteries of the Kitchen Revealed ISBN 978-0563370161
- 1998 - Blanc Vite: Fast Fresh Food from Raymond Blanc (Murdoch Books) ISBN 978-0747217084
- 1999 - A Blanc Christmas (Headline) ISBN 978-0747275183
- 2002 - Foolproof French Cookery (BBC Worldwide) ISBN 978-0563534648
- 2005 - Simple French Cookery (BBC Books) ISBN 978-0563522850
- 2008 - A Taste of My Life (Bantam Press) ISBN 978-0593060360 (autobiography)
- 2011 - Kitchen Secrets (Bloomsbury Publishing) ISBN 978-1408816875
- 2012 - My Kitchen Table: 100 Recipes for Entertaining (BBC Books) ISBN 978-1849904353
- 2014 - Kitchen Garden Experts' (Frances Lincoln) ISBN 978-0711234963
- 2015 - Kew on a Plate with Raymond Blanc (Headline) ISBN 978-1472224378
- Hibbert, Christopher (1988). The Encyclopædia of Oxford. London: Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-39917-X.
- Dixon, Rachel (15 August 2008). "Interview: Heston Blumenthal of the Fat Duck on the Good Food Guide 2009". the Guardian.
- "John Burton Race recipes - BBC Food". www.bbc.co.uk.
- "Losing power: Michael Caines". BBC News. 29 September 2005.
- "Chef Paul Liebrandt of Gilt-New York Rising Star on". Starchefs.com. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
- "Heston Blumenthal Rejects the Claim He Trained Under Marco Pierre White".
- "A man for all seasons". BMI Voyager. 1 March 2011. Retrieved 7 September 2011.
- "Home". Maison Blanc. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
-  Archived 21 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine
- John Crace (28 February 2012). "Raymond Blanc: 'People are confused by my accent. Some English diners thought I was from Liverpool' | Life and style". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
- Lodge, Alan (15 February 2008). "City Centre Rates force Blanc out of Brum". Bighospitality.co.uk. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
- "Losses blamed for closure of top restaurant". This is Kent. 4 April 2009. Archived from the original on 6 January 2014. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
- "Sushisamba is coming to the Covent Garden Opera Terrace". hot-dinners.com. 3 February 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
- "Brasserie Blanc Blog » Blog Archive » Raymond Blanc opens Brasserie Blanc Charlotte Street". Brasserieblanc.com. 30 August 2012. Archived from the original on 6 January 2014. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
- Joe, Melinda (31 May 2013). "Why it matters where our food comes from" – via Japan Times Online.
- "Raymond Blanc takes on 21 apprentices". The Handbook]. 7 March 2013. Archived from the original on 2 May 2014.
- "Great Chefs".[permanent dead link]
- "Media Tweets by Raymond Blanc (@raymond_blanc) | Twitter". twitter.com. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
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