I was lucky enough to meet Raymond Blanc (very briefly) last year at a signing for this book. All in the room found him completely charming and his passion for food was totally infectious. He took time with everyone, gossiped about his TV series ‘The restaurant’, asked the children there what they liked to cook, all the while encouraging us to come for lunch at Le Manoir – he has long had a policy to keep lunch an affordable treat!
His autobiography A Taste of My Life is just like he is in person – you can hear his lovely French accent and enthusiastic English. The book combines episodes from his life with stories from the trade and lots of thoughts on food and eating; interspersed amongst the chapters are many tempting recipes to try.
For a totally untrained chef, he is a complete natural in the kitchen. He is a real champion of quality produce and seasonal food – he does an awful lot locally in Oxfordshire. All this comes through in the stories of growing up helping his beloved Maman, through getting a glimpse of being a chef whilst waiting tables, and then grasping the mettle of cheffing for real when he moved to England in the 1970s where finding good produce was a problem. He started at a local pub – the Rose Revived, before opening his own restaurant – the first Les Quat’ Saisons in Summertown, Oxford. Luckily for us – he has stayed.
He has worked incredibly hard to get where he is, and comes across as one of the nicest cooks in the business. This book is a read that will get you seriously thinking about good seasonal food.