France – Top Chef

Raymond Blanc

Besançon - Franche-Comté

Raymond Blanc 2023 07 05 11 57 20

Raymond Blanc is recognized as one of the world's best chefs. Completely self-taught, his influence on gastronomy has been so significant that he is the only chef to have been awarded both the OBE by Britain and the French equivalent. But his journey as a chef began in the post-war era, in a much more humble way than one might imagine.

Raymond Blanc was born in 1949 in Besançon, in eastern France. Growing up in a large family during the post-war period, Raymond always worked to help his parents. The young Blanc spent five days a week tending to the family garden and gathering firewood in the surrounding woods. Encouraged by his father, he sought out places to find food, fish, and hunt in the area, then bringing the spoils home to his exceptional cook and inspiring mother, Maman Blanc, who fueled Raymond's passion for cooking.

His adventures in the woods contributed to his understanding of high-quality ingredients and emphasized the importance of the four seasons, a theme that would play a crucial role in his career as a chef.

Raymond started his professional journey as a dishwasher and then a waiter at "Le Palais de la Bière," from which he was eventually fired from, with a broken jaw due to too many questions about cooking and unsolicited suggestions to the chef. After this unfortunate dismissal, Raymond moved to Oxfordshire in Great Britain, where he began working at a pub-restaurant called "The Rose Revived." Not a place of haute cuisine, but one of opportunities, where Raymond started taking care of a professional kitchen and delighting diners with Maman Blanc's recipes.

He remained at the pub for several years, during which he also married the owner's daughter, Jenny, and later worked with chef André Chavagnon at his restaurant, "La Sorbonne."

In 1977, Raymond opened the restaurant "Les Quat'Saisons" in a humble and mismatched building, which quickly became a renowned gastronomic destination. Two years later, the establishment received a MICHELIN Star and the award for the Best Restaurant in England from the Egon Ronay Guide.

In 1981, Blanc opened "La Maison Blanc," a chain of 14 bakeries, patisseries, and cafes throughout the United Kingdom. The business was later closed in 2017 after being sold to the Kout Food Group.

Raymond, now a father of two sons, Olivier and Sebastien, driven by his ambition, purchased a dilapidated country house in the village of Great Milton in 1983. This house fulfilled all his desires: a massive garden and rooms for friends. "Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons," the House of the Four Seasons, now known as "Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons," became one of the ultimate gastronomic destinations in the United Kingdom, gaining international reputation. It has currently achieved 5 out of 5 hats in the Gault-Millau guide, Two MICHELIN Stars, and a Green Star for sustainability, recognizing its extensive organic gardens and use of local and artisanal products.

In 1991, after overcoming some health issues, Raymond founded the "Raymond Blanc Cookery School," where great masters like Michael Caines, Marco Pierre White, and Bruno Loubet have been trained.

Continuing his journey, in 1996, he opened "Le Petit Blanc" in Oxford, the first of numerous establishments across the country. Three years after his divorce from Jenny, the chain changed its name to "Brasserie Blanc," but Raymond's philosophy remained the same: "Good food is at the heart of good living."

Among the chef's successes is the publication of over ten books, including several best-sellers. In 2008, Blanc was awarded an honorary OBE by Queen Elizabeth II for his commitment to promoting culinary excellence and raising awareness about the importance of healthy eating. The following year, he participated in the Children's Food Festival, an event aimed at improving children's relationship with food. In 2013, he collaborated with the Mayor of London to promote a program involving young people in the food and hospitality industry.

2012 was a significant year for the chef. He was chosen to carry the Olympic torch, elected as the President of the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), and became the culinary director of Eurostar. The following year, he was awarded the title of Chevalier in the National Order of the Legion of Honor, the highest French distinction.

In addition to his role in the SRA, he also became the vice president of Garden Organic, and in 2017, he opened another academy, the "Raymond Blanc Gardening School."

The chef is also the director of the "Arsenal Diamond Club" and "Jardin Blanc," luxurious dining institutions in London, as well as the culinary consultant for Ascot Racecourse and an ambassador for the kitchen appliance brand Kenwood in the US and Asia.

Since 1985, Blanc has made numerous television appearances, both as a celebrity and as a respected speaker on environmental sustainability and ethics in the gastronomic industry, on which he has also written a manifesto.


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