When Raymond Blanc and his then wife Jenny opened their first restaurant, Les Quat’Saisons, in Oxford in 1977 it was a huge success, winning the Egon Ronay Restaurant of the Year award that year. It was in 1984 that Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons as we know it today opened, after Blanc fell in love with what was Great Milton Manor, an historic building set in 30 acres of countryside.
Decades later and the restaurant still carries the same esteem, with many of its former chefs now big names in their own right. To celebrate 30 years of the restaurant (now owned by the Belmond group), Blanc has invited some of his many protégés to cook dinner at Le Manoir for a small group of 40 diners, with Blanc himself presiding over them like a long lost - and verbose - Headmaster. So far the restaurateur has hosted luminaries such as Michael Caines, Ollie Dabbous, Martin Murge and Paul Heathcote. Tonight it is Adam Simmonds’s turn, with more scheduled for the Autumn with Eric Chavot, Bruno Loubet and Alan Murchison. Blanc sees Le Manoir not just as an excellent hotel delivering a unique experience, but in many ways as a training ground for his staff, believing that the most important thing in life is to pass on knowledge. When you look at the roll call of people who have been through his doors it is jaw-dropping; Sat Bains, John Burton-Race and Marco Pierre White to name but a few.