The Lost Orchard: A French Chef Rediscovers a Great British Food Heritage
A French chef rediscovers a great British food heritage
'I began to dream about an orchard filled with thousands of fruit trees...
Beyond the large cast iron gates, which are always open, at the entrance to Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons four large espalier apricot trees adorn the fifteenth-century yellow Oxford-stone walls. I wanted to pass on a very powerful message to my guests: "You are about to enter a magical place of beauty where food, and the growing of it, are at the heart of everything."
Today we have an orchard with over 150 ancient varieties of fruit. Together they tell the story not only of what we have lost in Britain, and also in France, but what we could regain.
Raymond Blanc is acknowledged as one of the finest chefs in the world. Completely self-taught, his influence on gastronomy has been so great that he is the only chef to have been honoured with both an OBE from Britain and the equivalent of a knighthood from France. His beautiful hotel restaurant, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, has retained two Michelin stars for over 30 years and has been voted the UK's No 1 hotel and Food Hotel of the Year by the Hotelier Awards. Raymond has written more than ten books and presented many television shows. He is also Culinary Director for Eurostar Business Premier, Chef Director of the Arsenal Diamond Club and Brand Ambassador to Kenwood for their kitchen appliances in the UK and Asia.
Raymond is renowned for his passion for seasonal, sustainable and organic produce. When sourcing food for Le Manoir, he makes sure to know everything about its provenance. With his gardeners, he has cultivated herb beds, a two-acre vegetable garden, a mushroom valley and heritage orchard. Raymond champions an ethical approach to cooking with sourcing and seasonality at the heart of it. He is involved in many movements and is honorary President of The Sustainable Restaurant Association and Vice President of Garden Organic.