Raymond Blanc – alchemist and philosopher

Raymond Blanc
Raymond Blanc

Was really lucky to go to Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons last night for a meal/lecture hosted by Raymond Blanc. He’s not only obviously a master of food (there are 2 Michelin Stars attached discretely to the place…), but also an extraordinarily principled and philosophical man.

A few things that stuck out;

  • He ploughs a huge amount of turnover back into training, and has an 85% record of staff retention.
  • He believes that attaching a name to the front of a style of food merely creates a fashion, and fashions die. (ie ‘molecular gastronomy’ becomes a concept/fad that will pass, whereas in essence it’s food science which is as essential to a chef as intonation to a string player). He is great friends with Blumenthal (and clearly respects his knowledge) but I got the impression that one of them is Mahler to the other’s Moby…
  • When a recipe lives in a book it dies
  • He’s never had a cookery lesson in his life
  • I did ask him if he’d ever chucked people out of his restaurant – yes only three… Glad to say the first one was a very famous musician who did something very bad indeed. Would love to go into details but get the feeling it wasn’t for broadcast. Marvellous…

He always comes out of the kitchen or dining room to say goodbye, give you a crushing embrace (I love the French), help you into your coat, check you had a wonderful time. I get the feeling he’d drop you back at the station if you asked him to.

Don’t think Ramsay would do that…

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