From the moment you meet Raymond Blanc, with his unmistakable French charm and accent, you’re instantly drawn in by his certain “je ne sais quoi”. However, after over 40 years of living in the UK, it’s clear he now sees himself as an honorary Brit. “British people are starting to reconnect with food and want to know the ethics and where it comes from,” he said. “We are at a lovely stage where we understand the true values.”
Blanc’s new Brasserie Blanc in Farnham will remain true to the local values of food. “This restaurant will be part of the town as much as a museum, university, cinema or park – part of the culture, lifestyle, vibrancy and joie de vie of the town. I always wanted to create a brassiere with the same values serving local, fresh food. The specialities are changed every week, all the food is sustainable and will be cooked here-we even smoke our own fish.”
As well as local cuisine, Blanc is equally passionate about family dining at Brasserie Blanc, whereafull children’s menu, of 12 dishes, is available. “I was the first restauranteur in 35 years to actively welcome children and to do that I had to fight food writers, travel writers, lifestyle writers and managers who did not want children because they said they did not understand gastronomy. I didn’t want gastronomy, I just wanted children to know what good food was all about – it’s about fun, health, deliciousness, enjoying a special moment. I want families to come and children will not only be accepted but actively welcomed.”
By welcoming children in his restaurants Blanc hopes to overcome the common problems faced by parents of fussy children. “All over the world children eat what their parents eat and it is the parents here who make them fussy. Children are adventurous – Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese and Indian children eat everything. Don’t force them, but try to reconnect them with food.” These family ideals were passed on to Blanc by his parents, who actively involved him in the food process. I remember sitting with family at mealtimes and they were talking about sex, politics, religion and other things and would not get down until I was told to leave, which was a good thing because it taught discipline.”
Q: Dream person to cook for? A loved one, it’s as simple as that.
Q: Most unusual thing eaten? Crocodile and octopus which was chopped alive in North Korea and the suckers stuck to my throat and I nearly died – serves me right. I love eels. I have eaten all the food of the world – I am a hungry Frenchman.
Q: Food hell? I don’t like Marmite. I have eaten fast food -I have eaten two burgers in my life and I’m glad I didn’t have too many because I would have eaten horse.
Q: Best piece of cooking advice? Eat simply and follow the seasons.We still do not understand the seasons because we have such an odd relationship with food. Eat close to home.
Brasserie Blanc is at 5 Castle Street. Call 01252 899970. Visit www.brasserieblanc.com.