100: Raymond Blanc

01 July 2010 100: Raymond Blanc

Overall ranking: 11

Chef ranking: 4

Raymond Blanc - Snapshot

Raymond Blanc is chef-patron of Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons in Great Milton, Oxfordshire, an 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 Blanc Brasseries and the star of BBC2's reality show The Restaurant.

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 baled 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 now has eight sites, the latest of which opened in March 2010 in the City of London.

Raymond Blanc - What we think

Blanc has risen to the top despite being a chef with no formal training. In 2007 he was appointed OBE in recognition of his services in promoting culinary excellence and for raising awareness of the importance of healthy food as a central element of family life. In 2009 Blanc was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Cateys, 19 years after winning the Chef Award, as well as picking up the same accolade from the AA.

But Blanc is most revered for his dedication to training - Marco Pierre White, Richard Neat, Paul Heathcote, John Burton Race, Michael Caines and Eric Chavot are just some of the Michelin-starred chefs to have passed through his kitchens. In 1995 he set up the Raymond Blanc Scholarship to offer winning chefs aged 25 or more a two-year training programme.

In a Caterer interview that reunited White with Blanc in 2007, the former said of his mentor: "Raymond is the most multidimensional chef this country has ever seen. No one has a palate like him. He is the only genius I ever met in the kitchen - the rest do it by numbers."

A vociferous campaigner for better food, Blanc takes every opportunity to lambast modern industrial food production methods and environmental destruction. He spoke at the 2009 Real Food Festival, strongly advocating a return to more sustainable food networks and a stronger culinary culture.

Outside the industry, Blanc is best known for hosting BBC's The Restaurant, which puts nine couples through their paces to see if they have what it takes to run their own restaurant.

The programme, which has been running for three series, marked a new stage in Blanc's career, bringing the industry and its challenges to a whole new audience and showing his restaurant management skills along with those of being a chef. Its success saw the BBC commission Blanc to launch his own cooking show, Kitchen Secrets.

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 and, most recently, the autobiographical A Taste of My Life.

In 2010 Blanc started blogging on Caterersearch, sharing his views on the industry and providing an insight into life at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons.

Raymond Blanc - Further information

Raymond Blanc on spas, Michelin stars, TV shows and Le Manoir >>

Raymond Blanc to open first Brasserie Blanc in London >>

Marco Pierre White dines with Raymond Blanc >>

Raymond Blanc >>">" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">Read more about the 100, the list of the most influential people, here >>

The Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email

Start the working day with The Caterer’s free breakfast briefing email

Sign Up and manage your preferences below

Check mark icon
Thank you

You have successfully signed up for the Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email and will hear from us soon!

Jacobs Media is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.


Ad Blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an adblocker and – although we support freedom of choice – we would like to ask you to enable ads on our site. They are an important revenue source which supports free access of our website's content, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

trade tracker pixel tracking