THURSDAY 24 MAY 2012 GROWING BRASSERIE BLANC WITH A GREAT TEAM!
Growing the Brasserie Blanc restaurants - with a great team!
Within the next 10 months we are going to expand our Brasseries from nine at the start of this year to 20. Eight of these sites will be in London. We have already opened Tower of London and St Pauls, and last week we opened the jewel in the crown at the Opera Terrace in Covent Garden.
I remember vividly being a very young RB, having just arrived in England, I ventured to Covent Garden and the market there. I saw this extraordinary cake of light and I was struck by the sheer magnetism and beauty of the immense glass dome on the top of Covent Garden. And I said to myself, completely under a spell, "one day I will be the chef here" (you notice, that I didn't say that I would own it - because I was not an ambitious person and I couldn't even contemplate such a thing!)". Today, that dream has come true.
CEO Mark Derry & me outside Brasserie Blanc Covent Garden
Of course the first thing I should do is thank the whole amazing team we have, such as our board, and within it, such amazing skill levels in every facet. Mark Derry, our CEO, is of course a financial brain, and our chairman, Ian Glyn, is probably one of the most resourceful and smart businessmen and strategists I know. Core Capital were also hugely instrumental in supporting us in our acquisition of this incredible collection of great individual restaurants.
The operating team is one of the best in Great Britain: led by our MD John Lederer, who is probably the best operations direction that you could ever dream of having. He holds the vision that is Brasserie Blanc, which is a huge responsibility and is ably supported by his right hand man, Rory Marthinusen.
What is that vision? The vision was always to create a group of restaurants which offer a tremendous experience, yet is affordable. And I felt that there was plenty of room in this country to create such an experience. Of course, children and families would be actively welcome, along with businessmen in a hurry who need an excellent meal - but quickly. And at the heart of this, is the desire to create a Blanc culture, be it towards your team or your guests. To create the finest hospitality, and around that, delicious food which is light, authentic, simple, rustic and delicious: taken from responsible, sustainable sources.
Of course Clive Fretwell started with me when he was a 20 year old boy (not so little, he was already 1m80!). He became my head chef at Le Manoir for 14 years, then joined Brasserie Blanc as the Executive Chef. Clive gives me the comfort and assurance that my food and my vision will be translated in a responsible manner. He is ably supported by his assitants, Mark and Manoj and, of course, by the wonderful head chefs in every Brasserie Blanc kitchen.
It goes without saying that our managers (and chefs) have been with us for a long time. They too share this vision and pass it on to our guests and to their teams both front of house and in the kitchens.
To have a team like this around you is a joy and pride.
We were so lucky with the opening at Covent Garden: the skies showed their stars and the beautiful girls danced the magnificent can can - a total display of Frenchness - and of course a little bit saucy - and why not?! I tried my best but I couldn’t really compete – I couldn't lift my legs high enough – I had to give up or I would have suffered another broken leg!!!
As I have said, if Le Manoir is a delicate waltz, then Brasserie Blanc is vibrant French can-can!
It was an extraordinary evening where hundreds of guests including Terence Conran and Britt Ekland mingled and celebrated.
Today, with great pride, we are operating seven days a week in 14 locations with further openings planned throughout the rest of 2012.
I hope you will join me in raising a glass to the whole team at Brasserie Blanc: santé!
PS: on Tuesday 29 May please join me and thousands of others for a mahoosive can-can in the Piazza outside Brasserie Blanc in Covent Garden.
This dazzling spectacle is being held to celebrate the recent opening of the culinary maestro’s flagship Brasserie Blanc that is located, fittingly enough, in a gorgeous French style listed conservatory overlooking the Royal Opera House.
In addition, grab one of the special branded baguettes that the dancers will be giving out throughout the day for a chance to win one of a selection of fabulous prizes, that will be give away each hour, including bottles of champagne and dinner for two at Brasserie Blanc Opera Terrace.
The festivities will begin with a colourful demonstration by professional can-can dancers at 12.30pm, 1.30pm and then at 2.30pm and 3.30pm. Having been shown how it’s done, the crowd will then be invited to strut their stuff alongside Raymond himself at 4.30pm and 6.30pm.
In addition, I will be signing copies of my Kitchen Secrets book and chatting to fans in the piazza from 5pm until 6pm. Adding to the excitement will be some fascinating food demos and culinary tastings.
You can also win cooking lessons with me by tweeting a photo of yourself doing the can-can to @metrouk. For more details see: http://www.metro.co.uk/raymond-blanc
PPS Please tell me what you think of my blogs and my website: I want to hear from you!
DVD of Raymond Blanc's hugely successful five part series - The Very
Hungry Frenchman - broadcast on BBC2 earlier this year, is now on sale.
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