I have nothing against Raymond Blanc as a man; he is a fine, passionate chef; he clearly loves his mum, he doesn’t have a silly hair cut to televisually define him (although the accent helps), and I dare say he is kind to animals – apart from those gastropods and mammals whose life expectancy is shortened by the fine diners at the Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons .
Raymond Blanc learning the secrets of supersized Garlic from Maman
Indeed, he appears to be that rarity – a Frenchmen I would like to count as a friend – despite his web biography featuring the rather chillingly tautologous lines:Strangely it was the love of people that brought Raymond into restaurants, he arrived in England, in 1972,…By an act of serendipity the Head Chef took ill and Raymond took over the mantle.
My question is what on earth possessed him to get into the branding biz with ‘Brasserie Blanc’? – a kind of McDonalds for the middle classes? True there is a market here, as the denizens of our perfect shires try to recapture the perfect moments of this year’s French holiday by force feeding Harry and Harriet cassoulet (a foodie envelope to disguise their shameful secret that, rather than moules the kids actually prefer beans on toast for tea).
The half-way house that is a brasserie – between cafe and restaurant, should be an ideal playground for us, CBT-wise, to cope with the stress of putting food into our mouths in public. (Odd that in our perfect shires from Bristol, Cheltenham, Bedfordshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire and beyond, we have no such reservation about magicking it back up at pub closing time). But this is the ‘idea’ of a brasserie, managed by scallop counting financial directors and brand agency folk who think a chalky menu, red leatherette seats and a pot of dijon cuts the mustard.
Would you like fries - I mean frites - with that? Blanc Brasserie, coming to a Perfectshire near you soon...?
Like perfectshires themselves, this place has become a parody of what it should represent; “I know” – the agency man says “let’s take some publicity shots, you know a bit Facebook like with some nice Mrs Bosomy-type yummy mum’s having a well-earned break from pilates, and-yes-go-on-I-will have the 175cl glass of wine…”, mix it up with some black-and-white pics of pig trotters (“which of course we’d never serve!”), some sizzling meat for the men, and a food porn pic of a chocolate tart (a sort of foodie replacement for sex toys?), and then watch the demographically targeted punters of perfectshire literally lap it all up.