There was great excitement in Abingdon on Saturday. Raymond Blanc was coming to Mostly Books to do a signing – one of only a handful around the country for his autobiography A taste of my life . I got there half an hour early and was about 15th in the queue. By the time he arrived, five minutes late due to the awful Abingdon traffic system, it stretched right down the road for at least 50 yards, if not more – that is big for Abingdon!
Dressed casually in trademark jeans, blue shirt and jacket, he was completely charming and friendly with all these strangers. He wowed all the kids, asking them about what they’re cooking! He chatted with everyone and posed for photos – urging us all to come to Le Manoir for lunch (which he deliberately keeps more affordable) if we couldn’t afford the full works dinner – I’ve not been yet, and have been dying to go ever since we moved to the area – soon I hope… We also found out that the losing finalists, James and Alastair, from his TV series ‘The Restaurant’ are currently working at Le Manoir for 3 months to learn the trade properly!
I am really looking forward to reading his book which is a mixture of autobiography, interspersed with recipes and thoughts about cooking, and dedicated to Maman Blanc who has played a huge part in his life. Blanc has always been my favourite of all the top chefs in England for many reasons – for having the courage to come to England for a start!, for always promoting seasonal produce and sustainable and quality methods of food production, for loving cooking for kids (he had the children eating out of his hands at the Abingdon food festival last year), and never swearing on TV!
P.S. I popped into Mostly Books this lunchtime and found out that he’d signed books for over 3 hours! You can see a full report plus loads of pictures on the shop’s blog here.