In conversation with... Raymond Blanc

Raymond Blanc

How do you relax/switch off?

I spend time with my family – I love to go back to France of course and I go as often as I can to see Maman Blanc. In the summer, we have family holidays in the south of France – eating, chatting, reading – I love it! I have a great time spending time with my sons, Oli and Sebastian – we were out for my birthday recently and it was a fantastic evening! We also go to the theatre together.  If I have time on holiday I love to read and also enjoy sailing. But just being in the garden at Le Manoir, spending time working with the team discovering new varieties; simple, fresh tastes - makes it a wonderful day.

What makes you stop and stare?

When I travel, I am so excited to see what is around me – beautiful gardens, wildlife, colours, tastes - trying local produce and talking to local craftsmen and women. I have learnt a great deal from my travels and I take home ideas and use them as much as I can in my cooking, in my garden and in the rooms at Le Manoir. The Lemongrass Suite was created using all the ideas from my time in Malaysia and of course our amazing Japanese gardens that I still wonder at every time I spend time there.

Most inspiring city you’ve ever visited?

I have been lucky to visit so many cities. I adore Paris but for me, in the UK, London has such diverse cultures and is so exciting. Of course Oxford will always be very close to my heart . It is the place that I first knew when I arrived in the UK and have called my home for so many years.

What is most rewarding about your work?

Working with such wonderful people - learning from them, teaching them - you never stop learning. It gives me great pride when a chef who has worked with me goes onto open their own place. Shaun Dickins at the Henley Boathouse for example - wonderful. I enjoy meeting guests at Le Manior and at Brasserie Blanc - they share their thoughts, their memories... that is a great part of my work. 

Click here to see a recipe from Raymond's new TV series and book, 'Kew on a Plate'.