If fine dining and all things food is what you're looking for, then you've come to the right place. We caught up with star chef Raymond Blanc OBE to talk about his favourite foods, cooking tips and his Michelin star hotel-restaurant, Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons.
When did you find your passion for cooking?
Well I was always helping my parents in the kitchen from a very young age - helping my Papa in the garden, planting, watering, picking and then taking in to my Maman and she would create the most delicious meals for us. So I watched, I helped and I learned from the very best!
What’s your favourite dish to cook?
Oh that is a tough question! I have many favourite dishes - but I like to keep things simple and of course using the freshest seasonal ingredients. At Le Manoir, our kitchen garden grows the most wonderful collection of vegetables and herbs and my orchard has so many varieties of fruits - we are so lucky to be able to use all this in our kitchens. Let me think… Slow Roasted Shoulder of Lamb with braised vegetables and roasting juices - lovely for a Sunday lunch. I also love a Tartiflette, it reminds me of our family gatherings as I was growing up, so comforting.
What’s your top cooking tip that everyone should know?
Simple - seasonality. Always use the freshest ingredients that are in season and you can create something wonderful from something simple.
If you could order a three-course meal, what are your go-to dishes?
Starter – Cheese soufflé
Main – Steak frites
Dessert – Tarte Tatin or Floating Islands ‘Maman Blanc’
The classic English debate when having afternoon tea – is it cream topped with jam on a scone or jam topped with cream on a scone?
For me, as long as the scone is big and fresh I don’t care!!! I have jam with cream on top - but I am not fussy!
How did it feel when you received your first Michelin star?
It was fantastic. For me, my aim is to be excellent and that has never changed since I started. I worked so very hard and it was incredible news - it was actually Albert Roux who called me to tell me I had been awarded Two Michelin Stars - that evening we drank some fantastic wine to celebrate! Yet even today, after 37 years of holding Two Michelin Stars at Le Manoir, we do not take it for granted - we have to work so hard be the very best we can and we never stop learning.
What can people expect when they visit your beautiful manor house hotel Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons?
I am biased but it really is the most beautiful place to visit! It could be a course in the Raymond Blanc Cookery School, taking part in our Gardening School, celebrating a birthday lunch or an indulgent dinner and overnight stay, we always want to exceed expectations in every part of Le Manoir. I am lucky that my team share my passion and we have worked together for a long time; my head gardener Anne Marie has worked with me for over 35 years, Mark Peregrine, Director of the Cookery School has been with me for nearly 40 years.
- Sweet or Savoury? Savoury - I love sour dough bread and cheese!
- Tea or Coffee? Coffee - a strong espresso
- City or Countryside? Oooh well I love being in the countryside in the garden - but I also love being close enough to town. Best of both!
- Favourite condiment? Ooh – maybe olive oil I think!
- Sophie Allport design? Home Grown or Bees
It was an absolute pleasure to catch up with Raymond! We've got a fabulous Apple Soufflé recipe from Raymond, which we are sure you'd love, and you can also enter our competition to win a gourmet getaway at Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons worth £1,300, click here to enter.