Raymond Blanc praises St Albans as restaurant set to open

CHARMING celebrity chef Raymond Blanc is a self-confessed food-lover and there is nothing he likes more than locally sourced produce.

So he was in his element on Wednesday when he visited Redbournbury Watermill and Bakery, in St Albans, to admire their hand-made bread ahead of his much-anticipated restaurant launch this month.

And the culinary genius promises to bring a touch of ooh la la to the city by serving fresh French-inspired food at his new Brasserie Blanc, which will open on Verulum Road on Saturday, August 18.

Raymond, who has picked up several Michelin stars during his career, said: “I wanted to bring my restaurant to St Albans simply because it is an ancient city, with a fantastic past and it has beautiful buildings.

“It has a genteel lifestyle but it is very alive, it loves its food and knows its food. I have never seen a city with 600 pubs and so many restaurants.”

“We want to be your local restaurant and be the place where you choose to celebrate a family event. It is not an expensive restaurant, all the food we take is home-cooked in the premises.

“We only buy produce which has come from sustainable sources that can be traceable and they help the local community. Those values have always been with me.”

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The self-taught chef described Brasserie Blanc as an affordable family-friendly restaurant, which is in keeping with his love of the relaxed French lifestyle.

And diners can expect to feast on the likes of grilled soused Cornish mackerel, slow-cooked belly pork, and the famous ‘flaming’ baked Alaska.

Raymond also recommend the Maman Blanc’s miscellany of salads, which was a dish his mother, who was the inspiration behind the recipes, rustled up every Sunday.

Eagle-eyed guests may even spot goats cheese made in Childwickbury by Elizabeth Harris, as Raymond hopes to add a few local cheeses to his menu.

The seasonal food enthusiast explained: “People should be supporting all that is local because I can’t tell you how important it is. If it is seasonal it’s fresh and it has a better taste, colour and nutrients, and if it’s local then it helps the farmer and our local economy.

“I think supporting a sustainable economy is going to become more and more important in the future.”

Raymond added: “The restaurant is looking fantastic, it is a beautiful old building and it is in our style of a brasserie. A brasserie means a place that is casual, very friendly and very fun, and not formal at all.

“Opening a restaurant is something I always find exciting because you become part of the institution and part of the community and part of the culture. We will be involved in a big way with the community, we are not going to stand aside as a French entity. I look forward to welcoming our guests.”

To book a reservation call 01727 890410.