Cookery schools can, at times, be intimidating arenas. Especially when the founder of the school has produced Michelin star chefs when you barely know how to make jam on toast. Raymond Blanc is the empathetic sort however, and can teach you how to cook a soufflé without making you feel too much like a novice. But don’t let me convince you – here are some facts that will do that instead.
1 Blanc’s apprentices mature into prodigies
Take this year’s Young National Chef of the Year award, for example. Three of the eight finalists were closely associated with Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, having worked with and studied Blanc’s culinary manifesto. Luke Selby emerged victorious from the category, while James Goodyear and Josh Bingham, both also from Le Manoir, came runner-up and joint third respectively.
2 Blanc has owned 2 Michelin Stars since 1984
Le Manoir is, as it proudly proclaims, the only two star in the world that lets its guests watch, learn and practice in the kitchen. Blanc has consistently held his two stars for 30 years, which is almost as long as Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons has been open.
3 Blanc has trained some of the world’s most recognised chefs
Now a mere 64 years of age, Raymond Blanc’s cookery school has been churning out world-class cooks for decades. Chief among them are Michelin-star chefs Heston Blumenthal, Marco Pierre White, and Éric Chavot.
4 Blanc was teaching chefs how to do things before he was a chef himself
That includes his superiors. In 1972, Blanc was working as a waiter at Le Palais de la Bière. Thinking himself above his station, Blanc was fired and left two teeth the poorer for suggesting improvements to the menu to the head chef. The chef’s sauces, apparently, could have done with a drop or two of lemon juice. We have this incident to thank, as it was Blanc’s subsequent exile that bought him to England.
5 He also pioneered organic and locally sourced grub
You know that popular, pseudo-credible phrase ‘all ingredients are locally sourced’? Raymond Blanc championed that, and is still championing it today. While he has an aversion to the ‘elitist’ and unaffordable organic produce in today’s supermarkets, he still keeps a reported 90 types of vegetable in Le Manoir’s garden.