Since opening its doors more than 30 years ago, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons has been a hugely fertile training ground. Twenty eight Michelin starred chefs have emerged from Raymond Blanc’s kitchen. And all of them have been instilled with his Himalayan standards of sustainability.
Among the best known and like-minded of the alumni, Bruno Loubet. Well, now the sorcerer (or should that be sourcerer) has finally pulled rank on his apprentice. Raymond’s restaurant, at what is now known as Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, has wrestled the National Restaurant Awards’ Sustainable Restaurant Award from Bruno’s Grain Store, two-time winner of the prize.
For as long as the doors of Le Manoir have been open to diners, Chef/patron Raymond and his team have striven to prove that luxury and sustainability can be the most comfortable of bedfellows. When you apply the same incredible level of care and attention to detail required to maintain Two Michelin Stars for more than 30 years, to ensuring that every plate of food served is a demonstration of the finest standards of sourcing, as they do at Le Manoir, then you’re a long way towards award-winning standards of sustainability. Add to this the Le Manoir team’s dedication and commitment to ethical and responsible practice, and the job is done.
Dine at Le Manoir in summer and there’s a good chance that half of the ingredients on your plate will have come just yards from the restaurant’s stunning two-acre kitchen garden, where almost 100 types of salad and vegetables are grown organically. Micro herbs and mushrooms also make that tiny journey from the ground to the kitchen. Meat, fish and other produce come from some of the UK’s finest producers with whom close relationships have been built over decades. Only the most sustainably grown, reared or fished ingredients reach the table.
Chefs make frequent trips to meet the suppliers to ensure they are fulfilling not just the exacting standards of quality – but also to check that they are being produced the right way.
As well as the home-grown fruit and vegetables, the daily changing menus feature free range meat and impeccably sourced seafood.
But what makes Le Manoir so special is that its dedication to combining luxury with sustainability goes way beyond the food it serves. It does this by regularly supporting local and national charities, such as Oxford Children’s Hospital and Hospitality Action. It also provides excellent benefits to its staff, such as subsidised healthcare and a profit share scheme, as well as paying them the Living Wage.
Raymond’s hatred of waste, drummed into him by his mother when he was a small boy growing up in France, means Le Manoir belies luxury restaurants’ poor reputation for waste. They use organic waste as compost for the garden and are working towards 5% waste reduction targets every year.
Raymond Blanc said: “As chefs, restaurateurs and hoteliers, we have a duty to give our guests food which adheres to a strong set of ethics, by demonstrating that we care about seasonality and local values, operate strong sustainable practices and work closely with one’s community.”
So after four years which have seen this award flop-flop between THE PIG Hotel in Brockenhurst and Bruno Loubet’s Grain Store, Le Manoir has proved it truly is the sustainable restaurant for all seasons.
It was also brilliant to see Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles named Scottish Restaurant of the Year.