One of the UK's most passionate chef-patrons is to be recognised at the 2017 British Travel & Hospitality Hall of Fame awards dinner, organised by The Caterer.
Raymond Blanc, the creator of Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons in Great Milton, Oxfordshire, and president of the Sustainable Restaurant Association, will be honoured alongside other industry leaders from the travel community at London's Dorchester hotel on 8 May.
Meanwhile, chef-restaurateur Jason Atherton, whose The Social Company now operates nine restaurants in London, and eight restaurants around the globe, is to be presented with the Business Achievement Award.
Run in partnership with The Caterer's sister brand, Travel Weekly Group, the Hall of Fame honours outstanding business achievement in the travel, hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors.
Blanc -who first opened his restaurant Les Quat'Saisons in Oxford in 1977 before relocating it to Great Milton to create a luxury hotel, received two Michelin stars in 1984 and has maintained them ever since - said he was honoured to accept membership into of the Hall of Fame.
"I am a self-taught chef and there were many times when I wished that I could have had a mentor, someone to guide me. Often the journey has been tough and gritty but, my god, the quest for excellence brings unimaginable enrichment. And it has been so rewarding to pass on knowledge and to train hundreds of chefs," he said.
Blanc has always felt duty-bound to share his culinary knowledge and, in 1991, he established the Raymond Blanc Cookery School, based within Le Manoir's kitchens.
"This journey has not been a solo mission, of course," he added. "At Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons the brilliant team has worked hard to help me realise the vision. I am so grateful for their support. Together we touch excellence, and I am immensely proud to be part of the dynamic hospitality industry which every day inspires me beyond belief."
Known worldwide for his passion for seasonal, organic produce, together with his dedicated gardeners, Blanc has cultivated herb beds in which 70 traditional and exotic varieties thrive. A two-acre vegetable garden produces over 90 types of vegetable, while a mushroom garden sprouts around 20 edible species, and an orchard brings in apples, pears and quinces.
In 1996, Blanc opened his first Le Petit Blanc brasserie in Oxford. More brasseries followed, and in 2006 the group was relaunched as Brasserie Blanc and there are now some 20 restaurants across England.
In 2008, Raymond was awarded an honorary OBE in recognition of his services in promoting culinary excellence and for raising awareness about the importance of healthy food as a central element of family life. In 2013 he was awarded the insignia of Chevalier in the Ordre national de Légion d'Honneur, the highest French decoration. The winner of the Catey Chef Award in 1990, he went on to win the Lifetime Achievement Award Catey in 2009.
In a relatively short space of time, Atherton, winner of the Hall of Fame's Business Achievement Award, has created a restaurant empire to be admired. Just six years ago, he opened his flagship restaurant Pollen Street Social in London's Mayfair and was awarded a Michelin star within six months of opening. Last September, the restaurant was awarded the AA Restaurant's Guide highest accolade - five AA Rosettes.
In 2012, the Cateys Chef Award winner launched 22 Ships in Hong Kong, followed by Ham and Sherry and the Commune Social in Shanghai, which was voted best new restaurant in Shanghai by Time Out. In 2013, Atherton launched three new restaurants in London - Little Social, Social Eating House and Berners Tavern in the London Edition hotel.
The following year, Atherton opened City Social on the 24th floor of Tower 42, in partnership with Restaurant Associates, and Aberdeen Street Social in Hong Kong.
In May 2015, he launched his first stateside restaurant, the Clocktower, an all-day dining space set within the New York Edition hotel on Madison Avenue. This was followed swiftly by Social Wine & Tapas in London's Marylebone and his first Social restaurant in Dubai, Marina Social, a waterside restaurant within the new InterContinental Dubai Marina.
Projects in 2016 included Kensington Street Social within the Old Clare hotel in Sydney; Sosharu, a Japanese izakaya-style restaurant and bar in Clerkenwell; the Pig & Palm, a tapas restaurant in Cebu, in the Philippines; and Temple and Sons, a British grill in the City of London.
In February this year, Atherton launched The Social Company's first Italian restaurant, Hai Cenato, situated within the Nova complex in London's Victoria.
Atherton commented: "I am really delighted by this award. Any chef knows how hard it is to make the transition from chef to restaurateur and so to now be recognised as a businessman as well as for my culinary achievements is hugely rewarding and a great culmination of all the hard work over the year."
Tickets for the event are now on sale and cost £235 per person or £2,350 for a table of 10. For ticket enquiries, contact Helen Bush at email@example.com, and for sponsorship enquiries please contact Mark Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, visit www.bthhof.com.