Maman Blanc - my greatest influence
"The best cook I know is Maman Blanc. Food for her is not just a creative act, but an act of love."
Maman Blanc has always been Raymond's greatest inspiration, both in the kitchen and in life. She taught her family to enjoy life, to eat the best and most seasonal food, and to celebrate every meal.
She is now 89 and stands only four feet two inches. Her eyes shine with love and compassion and she speeds around her kitchen, still cooking her wonderful food. Raymond's sons, Sebastien and Olivier, call her 'Mother Theresa on speed'!
Although Raymond Blanc did not become a chef until he was nearly 28, he served a long and fruitful apprenticeship at his mother's side. From an early age, he watched her prepare simple, delicious meals for the Blanc family to share. As a boy, Raymond would venture out hunting, foraging and fishing: whatever he returned with - be it wild asparagus, a basket of wild mushrooms, snails, fish, frogs or berries - would make its way onto the table, be sold to local restaurants, or taken to market to sell.
Raymond took Maman Blanc's simple tomato salad and turned his memory of that into his famous 'Essence of Tomato' at Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons. The simple dishes she set before Raymond and his brothers and sisters are the foundation on which his cooking and philosophy are built - both in the gastronomy of the two star Le Manoir, and in the affordable French cooking which is at the heart of Brasserie Blanc.
Raymond's book 'A Taste of my Life' is fondly dedicated to Maman Blanc.