TUESDAY 28 FEBRUARY 2012 HOTELYMPIA LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Hotelympia Lifetime Achievement Award
Yesterday was a busy day: busy, exciting, fascinating, thrilling and humbling.
I was at Hotelympia 2012, which is the biggest exhibition for restaurateurs, hoteliers and all those involved in foodservice and hospitality. I was there as part of the judging panel for the British Culinary Federation Chef of the Year award. However, I was informed recently that I was also to be honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award and join the Hotelympia Hall of Fame. This is no small honour, and I’m extremely proud to have been recognised in this way.
During the morning, I was interviewed on stage by Mark Lewis, editor of Caterer & Hotelkeeper, the industry publication. We discussed a great many things in front of an inspiring and enthusiastic audience. It was wonderful to see so many young people at the event: interested and engaged, full of ideals and aspirations. These young people are our future; they will create the standards of tomorrow and it is them that we must reach out to. You can read more of this interview on the Caterer website by clicking here.
We talked about my new BBC2 television series, The Very Hungry Frenchman. Everyone was very enthusiastic about the programme, in which I travel to different regions of France with my two young commis chefs, Kush and Katie-Beth. I hope that we have shown how inspiring it is to connect with the regions, with regional food and culture: we can do the same thing here in the UK.
We also talked about the issues facing those who want to enter the hospitality industry today. We need to address the reasons why young people don’t want to join us – without going the way of the 35 hour working week prescribed in France, no-one should have to work an 80 hour week. We need to persuade our young recruits that it is an exciting, rewarding and realistic career. There are many jobs in the hospitality industry: how can we demonstrate that they are worth having?
Then, on to the judging of the BCF Chef of the Year, sponsored by the magnificent butchers Aubrey Allen. My fellow judges were Turner CBE (also compering), Alain Roux (The Waterside Inn), Ashley Palmer-Watts (The Fat Duck/Dinner), Roger Narbett MOGB (Chairman), Idris Caldora MOGB (Academy of Culinary Arts) and Matt Cheal – previous winner (Simpsons Restaurant, Birmingham).
The standard was unbelievably high: a fantastic standard of cooking and creativity by all the entrants, who have already achieved so much by reaching the final. Our deserving winner was Simon Webb from Restaurant Associates, Merrill Lynch.
A young and very talented member of the team at Le Manoir, Naoko Sugekawa, also won a prize, for her magnificent fat sculpture of an angel. She took the gold medal in the competition and I’m sure you can see why!
I believe that I have been lucky in my career: a bit of daring, a lot of good luck and a great deal of hard work! There are so many talented young people in our industry, and I hope that they will be inspired to achieve the very best that they can. Thank you to everyone who has helped, encouraged and guided me.
PS Please tell me what you think of my blogs and my website: I want to hear from you!
Raymond Blanc's new book, Kitchen Secrets, featuring
recipes from Kitchen Secrets Series 1 & 2 and many more, was
published by Bloomsbury on 14 February and is available to buy online
from Amazon, from Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, Brasserie Blanc, Maison Blanc, and from online and retail bookstores.
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