Will Raymond Blanc really stand up for poor? Maybe

Bill Heine

Bill Heine

First published in News

Can we still use the phrase ‘pot calling the kettle black’ or does that contravene the rules of political correctness? Maybe. I ask because the latest local example of this involves a man called, strangely enough, White, or as most of us know him, Raymond Blanc, celebrity chef.

M Blanc runs the two Michelin Star restaurant Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Great Milton, probably the most expensive restaurant in Oxfordshire.

He is now standing up for the poor and is arguing that the organic movement costs so much only the wealthy can afford their products. “It has shot itself in the foot by creating a movement that has become elitist by being so expensive,” he says.

“Normally my heart is organic. All of Le Manoir is totally organic. The moment I came in, there were no chemicals. But it’s easier on vegetables than it is for fruit. Organic uses lots of copper and sulfates and I don’t like that. It leaves permanent copper residues in the soil which are very undesirable if you’re trying to keep chickens.

“I will abandon my principles and the new Le Manoir orchard won’t be organic, but LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming).”

LEAF is a charity which sets voluntary sustainability standards for farmers.

The Soil Association hit back. Peter Melchett, its policy director, pointed out that “Raymond Blanc is out of date. In England hundreds of schools and some hospitals have included some organic food without needing to increase the cost of the meal, and in some cases have even saved money by sourcing locally and seasonally”.

It’s a finely balanced argument, but a bit rich coming from Raymond Blanc running a restaurant where a meal for two could cost over £200.

The last organic purple sprouting I bought from Charles Bennet’s organic farm in Sandy Lane, Tiddington, cost less than £2 and the PYO at Rectory Farm in Stanton St John is very good value.

Of course I wouldn’t know if the food at Le Manoir is very good value for money because I haven’t eaten there. The closest I came was having a cup of coffee… maybe.

I was interviewing Raymond Blanc and arrived in a distinctly un-Le-Manoir-like car with the hole in my exhaust pipe announcing my arrival. The receptionist said M Blanc would be down shortly, but would I like to wait in the sitting room?

This was pleasant enough and so was the waiter who asked if I would like a cup of coffee. “Yes, decaffeinated, no sugar and a little milk.” As he departed to prepare it, M Blanc arrived. “Bill, how good to meet you. Let me show you around the room,” he said in that extraordinarily thick French accent and gave me the grand tour of the room including the windows, the curtains, the sofas and the carpet.

After 10 minutes the coffee arrived and exactly at that moment we left for a tour of the lawn. While we stood in the middle of the yard, a waiter arrived carrying a table, plonked it in front of us and asked if I would like a cup of coffee. So I ordered a second time. As soon as it arrived M Blanc jumped up and said I must see the kitchen.

The kitchen was indeed a revelation and the staff obviously adored their boss and were eager to offer us a cup of coffee. The arrival of this beverage was a signal for M Blanc to show me the garden.

It was glorious, a living example of his ideas about being organic. Here was a man in control of his ideas. He put them into practice.

He was also in control of his waiters who followed us and asked if we wanted a cup of coffee in the middle of the leek bed.

They arrived with the pot as we finished inspecting the Le Manoir pool and M Blanc started our journey to inspect the new apartments he had designed.

These were dripping in sensuality, several had no doors inside so you could always see the object of your desire. Fortunately I could also see the object of my desire, the ever patient waiter asking if I would like a cup of coffee. “Yes,” I replied, a bit too eagerly. He disappeared and Raymond and I explored four different exotic suites.

When the coffee arrived Raymond said he would taste it first. It was not hot enough for him and he sent it back. I waved goodbye reluctantly to the coffee and to M Blanc. After five cups of ‘almost’ coffees it was time to go. I was a bit confused.

Was I in Raymond Blancs’s magnificent restaurant or in Woody Allen’s most malevolent movie? And would this man who caters for the rich stand up for the poor? Maybe.

Comments (7)

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10:56am Fri 8 Aug 14

xenarthra says...

There's no scientific evidence that organic food is safer, healthier or tastier than conventional food. It is bought by rich Luddites. The organic movement has shot itself in the foot not by being expensive (of course inefficient farming is going to be more expensive than modern farming) but by making unsupported claims for the supposed benefits of its food and farming methods.
There's no scientific evidence that organic food is safer, healthier or tastier than conventional food. It is bought by rich Luddites. The organic movement has shot itself in the foot not by being expensive (of course inefficient farming is going to be more expensive than modern farming) but by making unsupported claims for the supposed benefits of its food and farming methods. xenarthra
  • Score: 3

11:41am Fri 8 Aug 14

Oxwatch says...

It is the effect on the environment of conventional farming which is the real issue. The use of neo-nicotinamides and the like remove the wildlife from our country side. Everyone must know by now that bees and animals like hedgehogs are dying out. The price of peas is one issue - whether your children will know what a songbird is or see a hare is another. Wake up before it's too late. profit is not everything, especially in an nation where it is the poorer people who are suffering most from obesity.
It is the effect on the environment of conventional farming which is the real issue. The use of neo-nicotinamides and the like remove the wildlife from our country side. Everyone must know by now that bees and animals like hedgehogs are dying out. The price of peas is one issue - whether your children will know what a songbird is or see a hare is another. Wake up before it's too late. profit is not everything, especially in an nation where it is the poorer people who are suffering most from obesity. Oxwatch
  • Score: 1

11:58am Fri 8 Aug 14

xenarthra says...

Oxwatch wrote:
It is the effect on the environment of conventional farming which is the real issue. The use of neo-nicotinamides and the like remove the wildlife from our country side. Everyone must know by now that bees and animals like hedgehogs are dying out. The price of peas is one issue - whether your children will know what a songbird is or see a hare is another. Wake up before it's too late. profit is not everything, especially in an nation where it is the poorer people who are suffering most from obesity.
Such loss of wildlife is sad, I agree.

However, if you ask the majority of people in our country whether they would prefer cheaper food or for there to remain songbirds in the countryside, I can guess what the answer would be. (Well, people may _say_ they would prefer the songbirds, but their purchasing decisions will tell a different story).

Cast your eyes beyond our shores, and concern for hedgehogs and songbirds will feature very low on the agenda in countries where children are frequently malnourished and hungry.
[quote][p][bold]Oxwatch[/bold] wrote: It is the effect on the environment of conventional farming which is the real issue. The use of neo-nicotinamides and the like remove the wildlife from our country side. Everyone must know by now that bees and animals like hedgehogs are dying out. The price of peas is one issue - whether your children will know what a songbird is or see a hare is another. Wake up before it's too late. profit is not everything, especially in an nation where it is the poorer people who are suffering most from obesity.[/p][/quote]Such loss of wildlife is sad, I agree. However, if you ask the majority of people in our country whether they would prefer cheaper food or for there to remain songbirds in the countryside, I can guess what the answer would be. (Well, people may _say_ they would prefer the songbirds, but their purchasing decisions will tell a different story). Cast your eyes beyond our shores, and concern for hedgehogs and songbirds will feature very low on the agenda in countries where children are frequently malnourished and hungry. xenarthra
  • Score: 0

12:02pm Fri 8 Aug 14

xenarthra says...

As for tackling obesity, you're not going to encourage people to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables by making them more expensive (by promoting organic food standards). Better education and higher tax on unhealthy food seems like a better approach to me.
As for tackling obesity, you're not going to encourage people to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables by making them more expensive (by promoting organic food standards). Better education and higher tax on unhealthy food seems like a better approach to me. xenarthra
  • Score: 3

12:10pm Fri 8 Aug 14

yabbadabbadoo256 says...

Last time I checked our environment is global. I wonder why the do-gooder's have to force us in this country to pay for expensive foods, energy, car tax you name it all under the guise of "Environment" or "Climate change" how about we send all the environmentalists and do-gooders over to China, Indian and Russia to get them to apply the same rules as what we are forced to use?? I can tell you one thing - they wont get far - And sadly its one reason the western world just cannot compete anymore .
Last time I checked our environment is global. I wonder why the do-gooder's have to force us in this country to pay for expensive foods, energy, car tax you name it all under the guise of "Environment" or "Climate change" how about we send all the environmentalists and do-gooders over to China, Indian and Russia to get them to apply the same rules as what we are forced to use?? I can tell you one thing - they wont get far - And sadly its one reason the western world just cannot compete anymore . yabbadabbadoo256
  • Score: 0

2:37pm Fri 8 Aug 14

Oxwatch says...

Please try to think about it. If the other animals die, humans will follow. It's not about do-gooders and being forced to follow rules. It's about keeping the world a place where we can survive as well as other animals. Of course there are worse problems in other countries but that doesn't mean we have to accept lower standards here. And don't imagine that the food obese people eat is not grown by farmers - it is actually. The grain fields and the potato fields and the pig rearing units etc etc are all grown you know.
Please try to think about it. If the other animals die, humans will follow. It's not about do-gooders and being forced to follow rules. It's about keeping the world a place where we can survive as well as other animals. Of course there are worse problems in other countries but that doesn't mean we have to accept lower standards here. And don't imagine that the food obese people eat is not grown by farmers - it is actually. The grain fields and the potato fields and the pig rearing units etc etc are all grown you know. Oxwatch
  • Score: 2

2:56am Sat 9 Aug 14

The New Private Eye says...

To be honest the only time you will notice the difference in a blind taste test, is between factory farmed Chickens and Pork and their Organically farmed equivalent. Most of the rest as Mr Blanc pointed out is an overpriced con, I buy Organic Veg when it is "yellow stickered" and TBH I can't really tell the difference.
To be honest the only time you will notice the difference in a blind taste test, is between factory farmed Chickens and Pork and their Organically farmed equivalent. Most of the rest as Mr Blanc pointed out is an overpriced con, I buy Organic Veg when it is "yellow stickered" and TBH I can't really tell the difference. The New Private Eye
  • Score: 0

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