Honorary OBE 'served up' to 'formidable' French chef Raymond Blanc
Raymond Blanc was presented with an honorary OBE (Officer of the British Empire) on 27th October, 2008, by Culture Secretary Andy Burnham, in recognition of his services to the British food industry.
Andy Burnham, Culture Secretary presenting the award to Raymond, said:
"I am delighted to present Raymond Blanc with this honorary OBE. His restaurant and country house hotel are by-words for excellence and quality. Raymond has done an outstanding job in promoting culinary excellence not only to the British public, but for Britain itself, and has helped to raise awareness of the importance of healthy, nutritious food. By basing his superb restaurant and hotel in Oxford, Raymond has helped to build the reputation that this country as a whole has as a place for fantastic food, with not only the most diverse varieties, but the best quality food in the world."
Raymond Blanc said:
"I am both proud and delighted to be awarded this honour by Her Majesty the Queen for my contributions to the food industry in Britain. Being French, I have an almost innate love of the best cuisine and produce. I am thrilled that building my successful career in cooking has grown alongside building an awareness and appreciation of good food, healthy dishes and quality produce for British palates. I am proud to have my contribution to the British food industry recognized in such a privileged way and I look forward to contributing so much more in the future. "
Légion d’Honneur & Mérite Agricole
On 27 June, 2013, Raymond Blanc OBE was presented with the insignia of Chevalier in the Ordre National de Légion d’Honneur, the highest French decoration. The award was presented by M. Bernard Emié, French Ambassador to the United Kingdom.
For over 200 years the insignia has recognised outstanding services rendered by citizens to the French nation.
Raymond also received the insignia of Chevalier in the ministerial Order du Mérite Agricole, for services to agriculture.
The Ordre National de Légion d’Honneur was established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, and the Order du Mérite agricole is an order of merit, which was established by Minister of Agriculture, Jules Meline in 1883.
French Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Bernard Emié delivered a speech in which he said:
“By becoming such a remarkable chef, and by constantly offering this gift for the pleasure of all those who step inside your restaurant, you have vastly broadened your family circle and kitchen space. French gastronomy offered to our British friends!
"You know better than anyone that it’s not enough to love cooking or to be a good chef, because one rarely cooks alone; one must want to offer other people what one can do best, and no doubt achieve greater satisfaction from others’ pleasure than from one’s own.
"I believe you embody a cuisine that is synonymous with a passion for sharing, goodness and the perpetual quest for excellence.”
Accepting the awards, Raymond said:
“I am both proud and delighted to be awarded these honours by my good friend Bernard Emié.
“As a Frenchman, I have an innate joy and curiosity when it comes to food and cooking. After all, wasn’t it in 2013 that UNESCO added France’s traditional gastronomic meal to the world’s intangible heritage list? That was the first time that gastronomy had made it onto that list. To me, the choice is totally tangible!
"Having lived in Britain for so long, I have definitely learnt to laugh at myself more and I am so happy that I have managed to build my successful career whilst inspiring others. There is nothing that makes my heart fuller than teaching the new generation and spreading the joy of cooking.
"I am proud beyond belief to be a Chevalier to my home country and accept the Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur and the Ordre du Mérite agricole with joy and humility.”
Oxford Brookes University
In 1999 Raymond was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Business Administration by Oxford Brookes University.
In October 2007 The UK's first dedicated centre for the study of food, drink and culture was launched at Oxford Brookes University.
Oxford Gastronomica draws together some of the most influential figures from the food and drinks worlds and academics from a variety of universities.
Oxford Gastronomica founder Donald Sloan, Head of Department for Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism Management at Oxford Brookes, says: "Oxford Gastronomica brings together people who share a desire to improve society's relationship with food and drink in pursuit of good health, environmental sustainability, social cohesion, and the maintenance of our distinctive culture."
Over 150 people from the industry attended the launch on 11 October at the Institute for Contemporary Arts in London including Oxford Gastronomica patron, Raymond Blanc OBE, who described the institute as 'exciting, timely and relevant'.
Activities planned include:
Education - both for industry professionals and the public. A new distance learning MA in Food, Drink and Culture, and a series of non-accredited short courses which engage a wide audience.
Extending understanding of food and drink issues through academic enquiry - becoming a hub for academics from around the world who share a concern for improving the quality of the food we eat.
Consultancy - working closely with business and public authorities to promote an ethical and sustainable approach to food production, supply and consumption.
Public events - a series of public lectures and discussions will be held throughout the year which place food and drink at the centre of our culture.
The Founding Patrons of Oxford Gastronomica are Raymond Blanc OBE, Robert Cook, Sheila Dillon, Geraldene Holt, Ken Hom, Lauraine Jacobs, Madhur Jaffrey, Peter Kindersley, Prue Leith OBE, Paul Levy, Jill Norman, Michael Radomir, Craig Sams, Professor Graham Upton and Tom Wright CBE.