In many ways simple food is far harder to cook. A notable example in Brassserie Blanc is Boeuf Bourguignon. Now most people have at one stage in their lives eaten a beef stew with red wine. I have eaten many examples; some have remained ingrained in my memory. If truth be known most not for the right reasons. This simple dish has had many crimes committed in its name and yet it can be…….sublime! This is why I think it is a great example of what I am trying to achieve. Good produce is not enough, a good recipe is not enough. What a good Bourguignon needs, demands, is patience. It takes time. There are no short cuts. If done correctly, the pieces of meat are whole but can be cut with a spoon, the sauce is thick but not sticky, the taste rich but not overpowering and the aroma instantly makes you feel warm inside. Real French food.
Other recipes from my childhood come back to me such as the Salade Composée or, as we call it, Maman Blanc’s Miscellany of Salad; grated celeriac with a mustard mayonnaise, cucumber and dill, beetroot with balsamic vinegar, chicory with blue cheese, Jerusalem artichoke and chives; The name of the dish stays, but with every season I change the ingredients. In fact the full Brasserie menu changes four times a year and ‘specials’ are changed, often daily, to reflect what’s at its best seasonally and locally.
I have a file of recipes, thousands probably, developed over the years for Le Manoir or from memory, or sometimes when I have been somewhere and tasted something wonderful. This I share and reference with my chefs, to inspire the Brasserie menus. The classic dishes are all mine, with the strong French regional influences of my youth. The more local and seasonal specials we hone with the skill and experience of my team headed up by Clive Fretwell, who I trained and has worked with me for 23 years.