Shaper: Raymond Blanc

Show aired on 8th November 2014

Transcript of the show

Raymond’s cooking has received tributes from every national and international guide to culinary excellence there is. His story began Besançon, the capital of the Franche-Comté region in eastern France, where Raymond was born. He was inspired by his mother, who used created wholesome meals for the family.

In 1972, Raymond arrived in England to work as a waiter at the Rose Revived restaurant in Oxfordshire. One day, when the chef was ill, Raymond took over the kitchen, which is when his career was born.

Raymond has since opened Michelin star restaurants and in 1991 he established The Raymond Blanc Cookery School to share his culinary knowledge.  Based within Le Manoir’s kitchens, the school welcomes enthusiastic amateurs and professional cooks, as well as children, providing the opportunity for home cooks to develop their skills in a relaxed and friendly environment.

In 1996, Raymond opened his first Le Petit Blanc brasserie. In 2006 the group was re-launched 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 La Légion d’Honneur, the highest French decoration.

Raymond has championed and personally nurtured some of the country’s most respected chefs, including Marco Pierre White, Michael Caines, Bruno Loubet, Eric Chavot and Ollie Dabbous. Some 26 of his protégées have gone on to win Michelin stars for themselves. In 2005 he was voted AA’s Chefs’ Chef of the Year.

Follow Raymond on Twitter @raymond_blanc

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One thing I didn’t want to be was mediocre.

I became the best cleaner, then the best washer-up, then the best glass washer up, then the best waiter. But I wanted to be a chef.

I arrived in England with a burning desire to create something beautiful, to connect with food. I knew England was a land of possibilities.

We had to learn the hard way. I have eaten so many humble pies in my life and they were very useful.

I took some spices from England, but I am enriching my culture, not confusing it. There is a big difference. I was not trying to do something trendy – I knew who I was and I still know who I am.

I made a French cuisine which was honest. It came from my heart. It was such a powerful expression of what I wanted to give my guests –the best.

I love to pass on my knowledge. When you have someone who owns your vision and your ideas, you become much richer. You are worse off if you don’t share it.

I want to create a modern industry for young people– they will not be threatened or shouted at or humiliated. It will be about preparing people to grow safely and mature into great professionals.

I don’t know how to say no and everything interests me. I constantly have this childlike curiosity.

We are the nation of wasters, the nation of polluters, so we have to change. We are going to connect with the real values of food, back to waste management, recycling and water security. We are all going to get more responsible.