Chefs aren’t easily impressed, but hands down, many of them agree that Raymond Blanc is one of the best. The man behind Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons has proven his mettle as a restaurateur, hotelier and businessman. He is also one of the key influences in French cuisine and reinvented many of its classic dishes. “I just want to show the beauty of the flavour and texture… even when I peel a carrot, I think how to produce the flavour better,” he says.
His first foray into the kitchen wasn’t automatically successful, though. When he was 17 he tried to impress his mother by making a crêpe suzette. But he used a glass dish instead of a frying man, and ended up blowing up the glass and smearing the kitchen with caramel.
But despite that accident his love for cooking returned when he looked through a restaurant window and saw a chef flambé a sea bass.
From there he climbed up the ladder, starting as a dishwasher, then a waiter, training under chefs and working double time to save for his own restaurant. He opened Les Quat’ Saisons in Oxford when he was 28 years old. He also has his own show, The Restaurant.