Raymond Blanc was born in Besançon, the capital of the Franche-Comté region in eastern France. The area is a culinary gold mine; boasting some of the best dairy, meat, wild mushrooms and clear water fish of France. As if this was not enough to inspire Raymond, his mother, the formidable “Maman Blanc” followed a well travelled but fading path of cooking only using fresh, local and seasonal produce to cook tasty meals for her family. She may never have heard of Oscar Wilde but she instilled in Raymond Wilde’s maxim “I hate people who are not serious about their meals.”
Strangely it was the love of people that brought Raymond into restaurants, he arrived in England, in 1972, to work as a waiter at the Rose Revived near Witney. By an act of serendipity the Head Chef took ill and Raymond took over the mantle. Using the knowledge and love inherited from his mother the restaurant soon gained entry into the Michelin Guide. The success continues to this day with the accolade laden Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons and his Brasserie Blancs. Never one to jealously guard his secrets and passion, Raymond has championed and nurtured some of our most famous chefs personally in his kitchens (Marco Pierre White, Martin Burge, Michael Kayne amongst others). It’s no wonder that he was voted the AA’s Chefs Chef of the year by his peers as recently as 2005 and even received an honorary OBE in 2007.
Though the knowledge that propelled him down this path has grown immeasurably, the love ingrained by his mother has not dimmed at all. The very opposite is true, Raymond now spreads his gospel through books, television programmes and varied Associations that include culinary as well as business, farming and gardening focal points. The gospel remains the same: fresh, local, seasonal and of course tasty!