Raymond Blanc on the importance of sustainable food

World-renowned chef Raymond Blanc OBE was involved in launching the Food Made Good campaign – encouraging a more responsible way of eating out. He tells us why sustainable food is important…

Raymond Blanc OBE founded two-Michelin-starred Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and owns the Brasserie Blanc restaurant chain. As president of the Sustainable Restaurant Association, the Food Made Good campaign is close to his heart; awarding restaurants for improving their societal and environmental impact…

Raymond Blanc on sustainable food…

You’re president of the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), why is this subject so important to you?
Food connects with everything – our landscape, our soil, our heritage, our health and the kind of agriculture and society we are creating for tomorrow.

How do restaurants qualify for the Food Made Good Diners’ Guide?
Sustainability in restaurants is not just about the provenance and sourcing, but also the environmental and social impact of our food. As a chef, it is my responsibility to ensure that the next generation gets to enjoy the same things that we have been lucky enough to eat.

What steps have you taken to ensure your own restaurants are supporting a more sustainable way of producing food?
Developing a close working relationship with your suppliers is absolutely key – as I know from working with the same butcher and vegetable suppliers for more than 30 years. Also, developing the same relationship with your team and your customers are as valuable.

What gives me the greatest pleasure is to serve my guests at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons with dishes made with vegetables grown in our very own kitchen garden, alongside free-range meat from a supplier who I have worked with for over 30 years, served by highly-trained and knowledgeable waiters.

The more we talk about sustainability and how it’s a vital ingredient in great food, the more it will become a natural part of what chefs do

In what way is the food/catering industry different now to when you started out, are we more or less wasteful?
In the last decade, we have witnessed a food revolution and it is incredibly exciting to see the changes in people’s consciousness as they are being empowered by knowledge.

We are looking at food as more than just a commodity. In this country, we have now as many types of cheeses as France has and there are thousands of amazing producers, craftsmen and artisans, and now, even wine makers.

How can people be persuaded to go along with your campaign; what do they get out of it?
Already there is a huge change going on in the way we eat out in Britain. Our customers are today driven by knowledge so they are more aware of food and good provenance and are asking where the food they are being served comes from.

But the revolution needs to go further if we are to ensure that our grandchildren enjoy the things we have been fortunate and foolish enough to take for granted.

Millions of people take great care over the food they buy, cook and eat at home, but for some reason less so when they eat out. So when you go out to eat, do ask if your eggs are free-range or your fish is line-caught. Be mindful to ask the provenance, the quality, the variety.

What’s great is that sustainability is synonymous with good food – local and seasonal produce, high welfare meat, great customer service and so on. Diners can really enhance their experience and put their passion for good food into action by choosing sustainable restaurants.

In a dream world, what does the future of food and eating out look like to you?
It is exciting that chefs are today reconnecting with the true value of gastronomy. They are reconnecting with their terroir, their history, their landscape, their varieties, their suppliers so to create a circle of strong ethics and good practices.

The more we talk about sustainability and how it’s a vital ingredient in great food, the more it will become a natural part of what chefs do.

Follow Raymond Blanc on Twitter: @raymond_blanc

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