The Mail on Sunday - You - - In This Issue -

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.

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