Watch Marco Pierre White cook for Raymond Blanc

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 5th February 2015
We're celebrating 25 years of 'White Heat' by Marco Pierre White and what better way than to put his famous mentors under the spotlight. We’re looking at chefs that Marco worked for before establishing himself as a hugely influential chef and next in line is Raymond Blanc. One of the world’s most respected chefs, Raymond Blanc is totally self-taught. His story begins in Besançon, the capital of the Franche-Comté region in eastern France. 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. In 1977, Raymond opened his first restaurant, Les Quat’Saisons in Summertown, Oxford. It was an overnight success, winning Egon Ronay Restaurant of the Year, and two prestigious Michelin stars within a couple of years. It was in 1984, however, that Raymond fulfilled a personal vision, creating a hotel and restaurant in harmony when he opened Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Great Milton, Oxfordshire. In the same year Marco Pierre White joined Raymond's brigade and the 12 months he spent there would provide the final phase of his culinary maturation. He said of Raymond: "When he used to go on at me (about taste) I was ignorant, I used to think what's this wally going on about - because I did think he was  a wally. Then one day it clicked." He entered as a young chef with an awesome knowledge of classical French cuisine and a voracious appetite for hard work. He left with a clear sense of his own culinary personality. Of the two, Marco was the one who would go on to graduate from two to three Michelin stars. But Raymond was the man who enabled him to do so by unlocking his palate. Raymond, at the time, said of Marco: "However controversial he may be I think he is a damn good chef, and underneath he has a pretty good heart. "For the first time ever, England can pride itself on having the best young chef on the same level as French chefs." "He has grown up a lot, he always had a gift to throw things on the plate and they looked marvelous. His slight problem was the taste. Now he doesn't lie, to me food is  a lie if it is presented in an attractive way, the package is so tempting and cosmetically it is stunning; then after the taste something is missing." Celebrating its 30th birthday this year, Le Manoir combines magnificent surroundings with gastronomic excellence. It is the only UK country house hotel to have retained two Michelin stars for the past 30 years. Le Manoir’s eleven stunning gardens, including the vast kitchen gardens, are the envy of botanists worldwide. Raymond has always felt compelled? to share his culinary knowledge? and, in 1991, he established The Raymond Blanc Cookery School. 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 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 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. Raymond is a best-selling author, and his BBC2 television series have included The Very Hungry Frenchman, Kitchen Secrets and How to Cook Well. He is currently filming a new television series with the BBC and Kew Gardens. Entitled Kew on a Plate, it is due to be broadcast in 2015. He is also writing two books. Tomorrow we take a look at Nico Ladenis  Click here for a chance to win a copy of White Heat 25 courtesy of Octopus Books  

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 5th February 2015

Watch Marco Pierre White cook for Raymond Blanc