Raymond Blanc: 'These little live eels jump from the bowl and down your throat'


My earliest food memory... A sumptuous Bûche de Noël, which my mother was carving for Christmas. It's the French Christmas pudding: a biscuit you moisten with vanilla syrup, or Grand Marnier for adults. Then you put cream inside – butter-cream or chestnut-cream or chocolate – roll it and put more butter-cream on the top. I was two or three and I remember thinking it was so beautiful.

Store-cupboard essentials... Ceps [mushroom] powder – it can be added to a stock which tastes a bit insipid. Other essentials: carnaroli rice, pasta, mustard, garlic, extra-virgin olive oil and some good rapeseed oil. I also love desiccated mushrooms – anything desiccated is fantastic, as it keeps for ever – and that Bûche de Noël must have had an impact on me because I always have some chestnut purée – sweet or non-sweet, it's one of the things I really love.

Top cookbook... One little cookbook I love is Cooking in 10 Minutes by Edouard de Pomiane: it was incredibly ahead of its time. He was a microbiologist at the Sorbonne, and I love the way he wrote about food: simply, with warmth and humour. Also, the books of Jane Grigson and Constance Spry helped me learn about both food and English – but obviously my English failed miserably!

The kitchen appliance I can't live without... I'm not normally a gadget person but more and more I think a good temperature probe can be a great help when cooking joints of meat. You have no idea what's happening inside, but with a proper probe you can control everything. It's one of the cheapest gadgets, but also one of the most useful.

Culinary tip... When whipping egg whites, add a tiny dash of lemon juice; you can then whip as long as you want to. The lemon juice lowers the pH value and creates a more stable form.

My top table... I love Club Gascon [the Michelin-starred French restaurant in central London]: it's a great exponent of cooking from south-west France, especially if you love foie gras. I also love Zuma [the Japanese restaurant in Knightsbridge]. The food is quite stunning and the idea of having a grill for the carnivores is fantastic. And I'm delighted that Bruno Loubet is back in London [with Bistrot Bruno Loubet] after six or seven years' exile in Australia. He creates wonderful, affordable food.

Desert island dish... Probably escargots with a lot of garlic. I used to hunt them as a child, then cook them with my mum in bouillon, so they bring back a lot of memories. When we eat them in my part of the world, though, we have them not by six or 12 but baked by the hundred.

Dream dining companion... My gorgeous fiancée Natalia. I've had the same dining company for nine years, and I wouldn't change it for the world.

The strangest thing I've eaten... In Japan, I had these little live eels. They brought this beautiful glass water bowl and you could see thousands of these silvery things, no more than 2cm each, moving very fast, and it was put in the middle of the table and they jumped into your bowl. Then you had to swallow them without chewing, as they jumped down your throat. It was really odd, an example of how the Japanese push gastronomy into the perverse.

Pet hates...Malt vinegar. The first time I came to Britain I took a ferry from France and ordered fish and chips, as I thought this is a great British dish that I've never tasted but heard so much about. It came reeking of malt vinegar, which made me cough, and the fish, being fish fingers, was squared-off! That's when I knew I was about to enter a different world.

Chef and restaurateur Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir Aux Quat'Saisons has two Michelin stars. He and product designer Robin Levien have teamed up to create a new tableware collection for John Lewis. The Chanterelle range is in stores and at johnlewis.com

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Life and Style
ebookAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
News
news
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Extras
indybest
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Day In a Page

    Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

    Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

    In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
    Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

    How has your club fared in summer sales?

    Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
    Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

    'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

    Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
    The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

    The best swim shorts for men

    Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
    Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

    Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

    Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup