TALKING TO RAYMOND BLANC OBE
Rich Lee talks to two Michelin-starred chef and legendary restaurateur Raymond Blanc OBE, who will once again take up residence in the prestigious Panoramic Restaurant in the Royal Enclosure for Royal Ascot this June. Returning to the restaurant for a fourth year, he will be back with a tailored menu and a refined service which promises to be one of the finest gastronomic experiences found at the racecourse.
Hi Raymond. How does it feel to be returning to Royal Ascot for a fourth year?
I am honored to have been hosting in the Panoramic restaurant since 2016. My team and I cannot wait to welcome our guests. The Panoramic restaurant has the best view, the best hospitality and one of the best dining experiences Royal Ascot has to offer. Royal Ascot is one of the most exciting weeks in the British events calendar every year and I continue to be so impressed by the elegance, pageantry and true joie du vivre of this truly world class race meeting.
You’ve never shied away from big, prestigious projects and events but is there more pressure attached to cooking for diners at one of the most lavish and exciting race meetings in the world?
There is pressure each and every time you cook for your guests. You always want to ensure they have a memorable day with their friends, family or colleagues around the table. My food is part of that experience so my team and I, over the months leading up to Royal Ascot, plan every fine detail of the offer. Of course, this is not my own kitchen but after so many years it has started to feel like it!
How do you approach the menu for an occasion and environment such as Royal Ascot and what are some highlights from this year’s menu?
Our menu is always seasonal and showcases the best local summer produce. This year, guests will enjoy a beautiful lamb dish, with lamb sourced from the nearby Royal Estate. It will be served with some delicious Provencal vegetables. Or for our vegetarian and vegan guests, one of my classics, pea risotto with the very best summer vegetables. For dessert, a lemon and elderflower mousse with the first British strawberries. And later in the afternoon, a wonderful afternoon tea full of sweet and savoury surprises for when our guests have worked up an appetite from all the cheering out on the balconies.
We’ve finally arrived in spring and as perhaps the most famously produce-obsessed chef in the country, what seasonal ingredients are you most eager to get your hands on?
Spring is always such a joy as produce starts to flourish. The first shoots begin to peep through the soil. But most importantly, the first fat and plump white and green asparagus appear… and with that, one of my favorite ingredients is finally ready to add to our menus. This is when I know Spring has sprung!
The Blanc empire is vast and ever-expanding, but it all began with Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, your two-michelin star hotel and restaurant near Oxford. How does it feel to be celebrating the restaurant’s 35th year in 2019?
It makes me feel old! But most importantly, proud. We never stand still, and Belmond Le Manoir is still a centre of excellence within the hospitality industry. It is a true modern classic. When I stop and think just how many guests have joined us over the 35 years and the special memories we have created, I am so proud especially for my team.
You’ll also be making your fourth appearance at another iconic British summertime festival this year, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. What can you tell us about Jardin Blanc?
Jardin Blanc is a fantastic hospitality offer nestled in a peaceful corner of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. It is an enchanting oasis filled with fantastic food, exciting cocktails, inspirational gardens and beautiful artwork. A perfect way to spend a day or evening at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, with friends, family or clients alike. I am so looking forward to it.
Any plans to return to our TV screens in 2019? Or any new books in the pipeline?
I can’t reveal too much, but there are indeed some exciting projects in the pipeline that I will be able to talk about soon. Let’s just say… this will be a busy year! I am truly so grateful.
Find out more about Raymond Blanc OBE at www.raymondblanc.com
and to book Fine Dining at Royal Ascot, please call 0844 346 3000 or visit www.ascot.co.uk