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

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
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

    Guru Careers: Events Coordinator / Junior Events Planner

    £24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...

    Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: Chief Executive Officer

    Salary 42,000: Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: The CEO is responsible ...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Day In a Page

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?