For the 8th edition of our eZine, we interviewed the star of BBC Two’s Kew on a Plate, Raymond Blanc…
In person, the renowned chef Raymond Blanc comes across just as you see him on TV – a man passionate about the craft of cooking. His enthusiasm for the pleasure of honest food prevails throughout his restaurants, inspiring his team to produce endless culinary delights.
Raymond dislikes the sensationalism of earlier TV cookery shows, believing that viewers have become more sophisticated.
“Consumers are much more discerning and thinking,” he says. “They have a better understanding of seasonality, provenance, and the ethics of food production and consumption. This has had a huge impact upon retailers.”
Shunning foodie fashion for its own sake, Raymond is inspired by the same principles that he was taught by his parents as a boy in France – primarily, the use of fresh, local, good-quality ingredients.
Using such produce not only gives the dishes a great flavour but lessens the impact of food transportation on the environment. True to these ideals, the menu of each Brasserie Blanc restaurant is tailored to reflect local ingredients and specialities.
Raymond’s view of a chef’s business focuses on inclusion. He believes all aspects of life and society should be integrated within the public dining experience. His restaurants use local suppliers as much as possible to support the community from which each Brasserie draws its customers.
As an award-winning chef, Raymond aims to teach his trainees about the purity and nobility of the produce, to show that good food is really important, and to help society reconnect with the values of food.
When we mentioned that some restaurants have been caught secretly serving factory-produced food, Raymond acknowledged that there will always be cheats, but he believes most people are honest.
“Respect for one’s self, one’s skill and one’s customers will prevent passing off brought-in food as homemade,” he says. “I can give you the absolute guarantee that at Brasserie Blanc every dish is made from scratch on the premises!”
To close, we asked Raymond: “Which do you consider the three most essential herbs in a kitchen garden?”
Of course, the subject lies too close to his heart for a simple answer, but we eventually ended up with basil, lemon grass and hyssop – with Vietnamese mint and lavender kept in reserve!
At the time of our interview, Raymond had recently been on TV, reviving the use of forgotten ingredients at Kew Gardens. So, it was no surprise to hear him championing the fantastic produce growing on our own doorsteps.
As he says, “It’s time to embrace it!”