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Chef features and interviews

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Raymond Blanc OBE

It's a privilege to welcome ...

Mr Raymond Blanc OBE

from the world famous Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, who is unquestionably one of the most influential chefs ever.

Le Manoir has trained, developed and nurtured a "Who's who" of Michelin star chefs, and has touched thousands of other chefs over the last 30-years and more.  Raymond Blanc's book "Recipes from Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons" is still used by chefs today. A man who's passion is infectious, he has, with his team, created a true gastronomic "House" famous all around the world - mention the name "Le Manoir" and you'll hear "Raymond Blanc".

We wanted to find out what can a chef expect from a career at Le Manoir with Mr Blanc and his team, and have developed three videos featuring firstly Mr Blanc, then Gary Jones Executive Chef and last, but certainly not least, Mr Benoit Blin Executive Pastry Chef.  But first find out from  Mr Blanc what makes Le Manoir different, and what can chefs expect from a career in those famous kitchens.

Please welcome Raymond Blanc OBE.

What can young chefs expect from a career at Le Manoir?

So many of the young people who come to work here at Le Manoir as Chefs have left with not only an understanding of teamwork, leadership, training, consistency and an all round knowledge of cooking, but also the importance of seasonality, regionality and the importance of sharing all of this knowledge with others ensuring everyone has the necessary tools to maintaining the high standards of excellence set here at Le Manoir which is the foundation that will shape their future and ensure their own success.

What career development opportunities does Le Manoir offer?

The training and experience these young chefs are exposed to is invaluable. Not only have we trained 23 Michelin Star chefs but also 100's of craftsmen at Le Manoir gaining that essential experience to develop themselves into the leaders of gastronomy today.

My Executive Head Chef Gary Jones started as a chef de partie and has been with me for 16 years leading my cuisine and sharing in my vision of excellence.  My Head Chef Carl Newberry started as a commis chef and with his knowledge and experience he gained here at Le Manoir has gone on to work in other prestigious restaurants including the French Laundry before returning home to lead at the helm with Gary. Clive Fretwell my former Head Chef at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons started as a commis and now heads up my 10 strong Brassiere Blanc operation as Executive Head Chef. Andrew Foulkes started as a young CDP in the kitchen, now he has moved into management and training, leaving us to work at Gidleigh Park with Sue Williams and Michael Caines, both had worked for me here at Le Manoir for many years.

Le Manoir is only a building, a place where the most important foundation is the strong vision which drives it and training. Training is at the heart of all what we do whether it is in the kitchen, garden, front of house etc.  I want to create a respectable industry where every young person will develop.  The greatest pride I have in my job is seeing the apprentice become the master.  Every department has a development programme in place and of course the kitchen.

Gary has a development program for the kitchen team which is spread over 2.5 years covering not only every section of the kitchen but also training courses to develop their personal skills to become a complete chef. Those chefs staying longer than the 2.5 years then go on to learn the management side of running a kitchen and become seniors within the team and the future head chefs contributing to shaping our industries future.

How important is it for young chefs to understand all aspects of the kitchen and each section, and have a structured development plan?

It is important for each chef to understand each aspect of the kitchen but also other aspects of the business, such as The Raymond Blanc Cookery School, front of house, which is just as important as the chef in delivery of excellence. My Restaurant Director Mourad Ben Tekfa works very closely with the kitchen team to create harmony between our guests the kitchen and restaurant.

It is crucial that each of our team make the most of their time with us, as every one of them are different, we tailor the training and development around the individual.

It is a tough industry to work in, intense and demanding but so worthwhile and rewarding we manage fairly, supporting and nurturing the development and skill level of the whole team from the top to the bottom.

We make each of them a part of this excellence, if one of us fail we all fail.

How long on each section would a young chef spend at Le Manoir?

5-6 months is the ideal time, 2 months learning it, 2 months perfecting it, 1-2 months training and passing on the knowledge.

What makes a chef's career different at Le Manoir?

Chefs training at Le Manoir exposes them to all aspects of the business, seasonality, regionality, taste, texture, combinations of flavours, variety of ingredients, cooking techniques, organisational skills, interaction with the garden, front of house, The Raymond Blanc Cookery School, Private Dining, presentation, consistency, managing, leading, developing, inspiring, guest focus, recipe writing, food cost, butchery of the whole animal, teamwork, nurturing and coaching.

All this and the experience of working in the busiest Michelin star restaurant with the potential to serve 260 guests per day.

But mostly they will embrace the culture of detail in all aspects of their career. Here they will learn all the basic skills. Le Manoir is a reflection of a particular vision which should inspire every young chef.

Thank you Mr Blanc

Thank you!

Please don't miss Mr Blanc's Video coming very soon where he cooks one of the Le Manoir classic dishes, plus through the three videos we get an understanding of what training and development chefs in the team of his kitchens receive, and how his knowledge and passion are shared through Gary Jones and Benoit right down to the junior chefs.

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