Raymond Blanc praises his TV show winners

01 November 2007 by
Raymond Blanc praises his TV show winners

Raymond Blanc has praised the "strength" and "desire" of Jeremy and Jane Hooper, the winners of his BBC reality TV show The Restaurant, as he revealed his reasons for choosing the victors.

Eight at the Thatch restaurant in Thame, Oxfordshire, which the couple will run with Blanc's backing, previews on 6 November, before officially opening its doors on the 15th.

The two Michelin-starred chef-patron of Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons said chef Jeremy, and Jane, who looked after front of house, visibly grew during the nine-week competition.

"What I was looking for was two individuals who had strength in each of their departments. Equally - and perhaps it should have been first - desire," he told Caterer. "With those two I saw the strength of their desire. Jeremy gave up his job in the Marines. The whole idea behind the programme means it is a lot to relocate and move house. They had that commitment."

Blanc spent six hours developing the new restaurant's menu with Jeremy, but stressed that he wouldn't interfere on a day-to-day basis. "The food we're trying to do is not a Michelin-starred restaurant, it is Jeremy's restaurant and we want to give them the knowledge," he said. "After six months or a year they will want to decide to stay with us or move on. I want them to succeed."

The couple have spent the past week training with Blanc at Le Manoir and Brasserie Blanc in Oxford and at the Fishes pub in North Hinksey, owned by Peach Pubs, whose co-owner Lee Cash was a judge on the programme.

Blanc praised the losing finalists, identical twins Jess and Laura Tilli, for having a "brilliant concept" but suggested that they didn't always practise what they preached, by promoting their Brown & Green restaurant as organic, but sometimes using tinned and frozen produce.

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By Christopher Walton

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