with celebrity chef Raymond Blanc
Guilty pleasure? I don’t believe in guilt, especially when it comes to food. I devour life with both hands. Where is home? I’m from Besançon in eastern France, but for 45 years I have lived in England, where I have a beautiful 1920s house in Oxford with my partner Natalia. Career plan B? My priority is to make sure that my hotel and restaurant, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, has a future beyond me and can maintain its level of excellence, then spend more time doing consultancy. Who would play you in a movie of your life? Dudley Moore, who ate at Le Manoir many times. Biggest bugbear? Technology – it fascinates me, but I can never master it. Earliest memory? Getting a model plane for Christmas when I was three. I’d seen it in a shop window with my maman, but thought it was too expensive for my poor parents to buy. Secret to a happy relationship? Kindness, humour, forgiveness – and maybe compromise, but not too much. Your best quality? A childlike curiosity. And your worst? I’m a perfectionist and that can sometimes tip over into obsessiveness. Last meal on earth? A family dinner in my home town in France, including seasonal crudités, smoked ham, cheese soufflé, rabbit, the local comté cheese, floating islands and pinot noir wine. Dream dinner-party guests? Sophia Loren, Angelina Jolie, Catherine Deneuve, the Obamas, new French president Emmanuel Macron, and Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton – although I would separate them and put Liz on my right. Most memorable meal? A 42-course tasting menu at Spain’s legendary El Bulli restaurant with my two sons, Olivier and Sebastien. Cat or dog? I had a magnificent german shepherd, Prince, for 15 years. I was in tears as I buried him in the grounds of Le Manoir. I tried other dogs afterwards, but I could never love them like Prince. Starstruck moment? Giving the actor Omar Sharif a hug when I spotted him in a Paris hotel when he was about 80. He was in one of the most beautiful movies ever, Doctor Zhivago. Big break? While working as a waiter at a picturesque inn by the River Thames, the chef fell ill and I had to take over in the kitchen. Six months later I opened my first restaurant. Career highlight? Carrying the Olympic torch on part of its journey to the 2012 London Games. Favourite tipple? 1949 Clos de Vougeot, a pinot noir, would be my wine choice for a very special treat. Hangover cure? About ten years ago I was introduced to bacon sandwiches with HP Sauce and that seemed to work. Top of your bucket list? I would love to drive a Formula One car. One thing that would make your life better? Fewer responsibilities. Philosophy? Treat people the way you would like to be treated. First record you bought? ‘The House of the Rising Sun’ by The Animals. Most extravagant purchase? A silver-grey Mercedes 500SL coupé. Happiness is... Having some quiet time to yourself, free from stress, pressure and the expectations of others.