Your very good health! Blanc’s slap-up dinner for NHS heroes
WHEN Raymond Blanc was struggling to breathe with Covid-19 in intensive care, he was unsure he would survive. Now, the celebrated chef is recovering but has not forgotten the NHS staff who saved his life.
I hear he invited around 50 doctors and nurses for a slap-up champagne lunch at his two Michelin-starred restaurant, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, where diners usually pay around £250 a head. The secret thank-you is estimated to have cost more than £12,000.
‘Throughout my stay, I received the most extraordinary care,’ Blanc tells me of the weeks he spent at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.
‘I think that’s part of what saved me. I am completely humbled by what everyone did and how
kind they were while still being totally professional.
‘I was in awe at their care, their competence and the way they passed on knowledge to each other. However busy they were, they always
made time for the patients.’ Blanc, 71, who is in a relationship with 49-yearold nutritionist Natalia Traxel, adds: ‘When I was in hospital, I kept thinking that when I was better, I want to organise a thank-you party for everyone who helped me — et voila! It was a lovely afternoon, we were all in the outside in the garden and it gave me a chance to spend time talking to such lovely people and thank them
properly. We had some champagne, the sun made an appearance — it was a good day.’
The lucky guests dined on his signature burgers, trout tartare and lemon macarons in the manicured hotel gardens in Oxfordshire.
Blanc had refused to be put on a ventilator for fear of never waking up. Though he waxes lyrical about the excellent care he received, he was unimpressed by the culinary offerings at the Oxford hospital, describing the food as a ‘shock’.
There was one saving grace, however — the pudding. He said the ice cream was ‘excellent’ and the custard and plums were ‘always amazing’.
Perhaps he could send a care package of ready meals to the hospital kitchen?