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Caterer and Hotelkeeper: Raymond Blanc, Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons

06 December 2012

Overall ranking: 10 (ranked 10 in 2011)Chef ranking: 3 (ranked 3 in 2011)

Raymond Blanc - Snapshot

Raymond Blanc is chef-patron of Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons in Great Milton, Oxfordshire, the iconic, award-winning 32-bedroom country house hotel with a two-Michelin-starred restaurant and a cookery school for both amateurs and professionals. He is also a director of Brasserie Bar Co, a well-known television chef and has most recently reinvented himself as hospitality's king of green.

Raymond Blanc - Career guide

Raymond Blanc, who was born in Besançon in France in 1949, first came to the UK as a waiter at the Rose Revived restaurant near Whitney, Oxfordshire, in 1972. He opened his Les Quat'Saisons restaurant in Summertown, Oxford, in 1977, winning his first Michelin star in 1979 and his second in 1983.

In 1984 he moved to a 15th-century manor in Great Milton, reopening as a restaurant with rooms called Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons. He added cookery school L'Ecole de Cuisine in 1991 and teamed up with Virgin Hotels the following year to expand the property into a 32-bedroom hotel. In 1996 he opened his first Le Petit Blanc brasserie in Oxford.

Virgin bailed out in 2002, selling its majority stake in Le Manoir and its 50% holding in Le Petit Blanc to Orient-Express Hotels for £27.5m. The four-strong brasserie chain fell into administration in 2003, after difficulties with central costs, before being rescued by Loch Fyne Restaurants.

In March 2006 the management team behind Loch Fyne Restaurants, including chief executive Mark Derry, completed a buyout with Blanc of the Le Petit Blanc chain for £3m and renamed it Brasserie Blanc. The chain, operating under the Brasserie Bar Co umbrella, now has eighteen sites across the UK.

Raymond Blanc - What we think

Blanc has risen to the top despite being a chef with no formal training, and is regarded as one of the most widely respected chefs in the industry. In recognition of his achievements, he was appointed OBE in 2007 for his services in promoting culinary excellence and for raising awareness of the importance of healthy food as a central element of family life; picked up a Lifetime Achievement award at the Cateys in 2009, 19 years after winning the Chef Award; and has also collected the same award from both the AA and Hotelympia.

Blanc's outstanding legacy lies in the sheer number of chefs he has helped train - Marco Pierre White, Richard Neat, Paul Heathcote, John Burton Race, Michael Caines, Adam Simmonds, Agnar Sverrisson and Eric Chavot are just some of the Michelin-starred chefs to have passed through his kitchens. Through this dedication, Blanc has exerted an influence on the British culinary scene equalled only by the Roux brothers.

In recent years, Blanc has been at the forefront campaigning for better environmental practise within the industry and in 2012 became the first president of the Sustainable Restaurant Association. A vociferous campaigner for better food, Blanc takes every opportunity to lambaste modern industrial food production methods and environmental destruction.

To the wider public, Blanc is also known as the host of BBC's The Restaurant and cookery shows Raymond Blanc's Kitchen Secrets and The Very Hungry Frenchman. His move into television has marked a new stage in the chef's career, making him widely recognisable to many outside the industry.

Over the past few years Blanc has also written a number of books, including Cooking For Friends, A Blanc Christmas, the Sunday Times bestseller Recipes from Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, Blanc Vite, Foolproof French Cookery, the autobiographical A Taste of My Life and, more recently, Kitchen Secrets.

Raymond Blanc's ranking in the 2011 Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100 >>

Brasserie Blanc banned from selling lamb's liver >>

Raymond Blanc guest edits Caterer and Hotelkeeper magazine >>

Video interview with Raymond Blanc >>

Raymond Blanc: A timeline >>

Raymond Blanc becomes first president of the SRA >>

Raymond Blanc to receive Lifetime Achievement Award at Hotelympia >>

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