Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Raymond Blanc, Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons
Overall ranking: 10 (ranked 11 in 2010)
Chef ranking: 3 (ranked 4 in 2010)
Raymond Blanc - Snapshot
Raymond Blanc is chef-patron of Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons in Great Milton, Oxfordshire, an award-winning 32-bedroom country house hotel with a two-Michelin-starred restaurant and a cookery school for both amateurs and professionals. He is also a director of Blanc Brasseries and a well-known television chef.
Raymond Blanc - Career guide
Raymond Blanc, who was born in Besançon in France in 1949, first came to the UK as a waiter at the Rose Revived restaurant near Whitney, Oxfordshire, in 1972. He opened his Les Quat'Saisons restaurant in Summertown, Oxford, in 1977, winning his first Michelin star in 1979 and his second in 1983.
In 1984 he moved to a 15th-century manor in Great Milton, reopening as a restaurant with rooms called Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons. He added cookery school L'Ecole de Cuisine in 1991 and teamed up with Virgin Hotels the following year to expand the property into a 32-bedroom hotel. In 1996 he opened his first Le Petit Blanc brasserie in Oxford.
Virgin baled out in 2002, selling its majority stake in Le Manoir and its 50% holding in Le Petit Blanc to Orient-Express Hotels for £27.5m. The four-strong brasserie chain fell into administration in 2003, after difficulties with central costs, before being rescued by Loch Fyne Restaurants .
In March 2006 the management team behind Loch Fyne Restaurants, including chief executive Mark Derry, completed a buyout with Blanc of the Le Petit Blanc chain for £3m and renamed it Brasserie Blanc. The chain now has nine sites, the latest of which opened in October 2010 in Chichester.
Raymond Blanc - What we think
Blanc has risen to the top despite being a chef with no formal training. In 2007 he was appointed OBE in recognition of his services in promoting culinary excellence and for raising awareness of the importance of healthy food as a central element of family life. In 2009 Blanc was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Cateys, 19 years after winning the Chef Award, as well as picking up the same accolade from the AA.
But Blanc is most revered for his dedication to training - Marco Pierre White, Richard Neat, Paul Heathcote, John Burton Race, Michael Caines and Eric Chavot are just some of the Michelin-starred chefs to have passed through his kitchens. In 1995 he set up the Raymond Blanc Scholarship to offer winning chefs aged 25 or more a two-year training programme.
A vociferous campaigner for better food, Blanc takes every opportunity to lambaste modern industrial food production methods and environmental destruction.
To the wider public, Blanc is also known as the host of BBC's The Restaurant and cookery show Kitchen Secrets. His move into television has marked a new stage in the chef's career, making him widely recognisable to many outside the industry for the first time, and seems set to continue for the foreseeable future.
Over the past few years Blanc has also written a number of books, including Cooking For Friends, A Blanc Christmas, the Sunday Times bestseller Recipes from Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, Blanc Vite, Foolproof French Cookery, the autobiographical A Taste of My Life and, more recently, Kitchen Secrets.
Raymond Blanc's ranking in the 2010 Caterersearch.com 100 >>
Raymond Blanc to open first Brasserie Blanc in London >>
Brasserie Blanc cancels plans to open in Cardiff church >>
Raymond Blanc on spas, Michelin stars, TV shows and Le Manoir >>
Marco Pierre White dines with Raymond Blanc >>