Raymond Blanc has urged operators to change their approach to working hours in order to make the industry more attractive to potential employees.

Speaking at Hotelympia where he received a lifetime achievement award, he said: "How can we be in a position where there is such high unemployment but we're not able to attract chefs and waiters."

He said that he wasn't recommending that the UK adopts a 35-hour week, as is practice in France, but that operators took a more balanced approach to working hours to address the 80 hour a week culture that puts off prospective new industry entrants.

"We all need to work better with colleges to create a modern industry and reduce working hours, particularly in kitchens," Blanc added.

He also referred to how much British cuisine had changed since his introduction to it in the 1970s. "When I arrived the food was frightening," he said. "I had heard about the speciality that was fish fingers so I tried it. I was amazed as it arrived in seconds and the fish was square. I'd never before seen a square fish!"

But now, he said, the industry was "extremely dynamic and creative".

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By James Stagg

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