Laura and Jess, children's entertainers from London,
and Royal Marine chef Jeremy and his wife Jane, a
trainee teacher from Devon, made it to the grand final
of BBC Two's The Restaurant.
two remaining couples had to battle it out for the
unique opportunity to go into business with legendary
chef and restaurateur Raymond Blanc.
Raymond: "I have been enormously impressed by
how much effort all nine couples have put in to the
competition their determination to make it
work has been obvious. In this final challenge I wanted
to test the couples' flexibility and resilience.
I opened my first restaurant in Oxfordshire I brought
a little bit of France to the UK, so I wanted the
couples to take a little bit of Britain to France
and see how they fared. It is all credit to them that
they made a good impression. They had to create something
at the drop of a hat and they all did really well.
final couples have shown fantastic teamwork, winning
restaurant of the week more than once along the way.
They have excellent concepts and they have shown strength
together, becoming driven teams who are able to pass
on their knowledge."
couples started out in the competition and to test
their skills all the couples had to run their own
restaurants for the very first time. But to help him
make the ultimate decision, Raymond told the finalists
to take their restaurants to his home town of Besançon
in France the place where he grew up and started
his own career.
two couples, however, were shocked to learn that they
had less than 48 hours to reopen their own restaurant
there for one night, and introduce the French to their
proved to be the toughest of all the challenges the
couples had been given during the series. They had
to come up with a menu that would appeal to the French,
negotiate for ingredients in Raymond Blanc's hometown
market, and train their new French team.
were tears and tantrums as the kitchen and front of
house struggled to cope with the packed restaurants,
as well as pleasing Raymond, his family and, most
of all, the woman who taught him to cook . . . his
mother Anne Marie.
she like her first whole-food burger served by the
twins' Brown And Green restaurant, or would she prefer
Jeremy and Jane's taster menu extravaganza served
from Eight In The Country?
Raymond: "My Maman tasted her first lamb burger
and she asked for the recipe an accolade indeed."
stake was the chance of a lifetime a restaurant
in partnership with and backed by Raymond Blanc.
is a life changing decision to take part in this programme
it is not just a game. They are making many
sacrifices without even knowing if they are going
to win", says Raymond Blanc
the eight week series every decision, every mistake
the couples make, every argument they have, will be
caught on camera. They are working and living together
twenty-four hours a day, under enormous pressure.
of the nine couples takes over an empty restaurant,
makes it their own and will open their doors to the
paying public. It is up to them to create the right
week each restaurant is visited by Raymond's panel
of "inspectors" restaurant industry
experts Lee Cash, Sarah Willingham and John Lederer.
will then select the three restaurants he judges to
be the worst performing. One of these restaurants
will be closed at the end of the week.
three selected restaurants are given a tough specific
challenge. They must prove in this challenge that
they are good enough to stay open.
week, one of the restaurants will be eliminated from
the competition by Raymond, acting as judge and advised
by his panel. The restaurant that fails the challenge
will have its doors shut. Raymond's decision is the
one that counts.
the end of the series just one couple and one restaurant
will be left open. The winning couple will be able
to run their own restaurant financially backed and
personally supported by Raymond Blanc. Raymond is
investing a six figure sum in the new business.
show is a brutal insight into the business of running
a restaurant and the incredible pressure of living
and working with your partner.
for the top prize are Martin, a prison caterer and
his fiancé Emma who works in a bingo hall;
Jeremy, a chef in the Royal Marines and his wife Jane;
Lloyd and Adwoa, an engaged couple who run market
stalls selling food; jazz drummer Sam and his wife
Jacqui, an actress/waitress; Eddie and his older brother
Michael, a communications consultant; advertising
copywriter Grant and his wife Laura; sisters and children's
entertainers Jess and Laura; Nicola, a home cook and
successful businesswoman, and her son Tom; and mature
university students Chris and his partner Jade.
Raymond: "Opening a restaurant is one of the
most popular start up businesses, everyone thinks
they can do it. Likewise, our couples also think they
know how to run a restaurant business, but most of
them will soon realise how complex and tough it is.
inexperienced couples will be thrown in at the deep
end as they go into an empty restaurant and in one
week must open to the public; so they will have to
series is an uncompromising, but entertaining, insight
into the business of restaurant management, bringing
with it the incredible pressure of living and working
with a partner, learning how to cook, managing staff
and a reminder that the customer is always right.
chef and restaurateur Raymond Blanc has rarely been
tempted by reality television. Agreeing to work on
BBC2's The Restaurant, therefore, meant breaking a
promise he had made to himself.
said I would never do a reality TV programme, I am
a people person first and foremost, I want to inspire
and create, to believe in people, not bully, humiliate
and crush them. But as soon as I saw that the series
concept shared my values I agreed to this wonderful
opportunity so never say never.
feel I could have written this programme myself because
for eight years I had a scholarship at Le Manoir aux
Quat' Saisons which offered young talented people,
who like me had received no formal professional training,
a chance to realise their dream of owning their own
flamboyant Michelin-starred restaurateur was so convinced
by the programme idea that he has put up a six-figure
sum of his own money, as well as committing his time
to the project and placing his reputation on the line.
participants are couples with a dream, not industry
professionals, some have only ever entertained guests
at home yet the winners of the series will
come away running a restaurant business personally
and financially supported by Raymond.
of young people dream of owning their own restaurant,
a few manage to save enough money to do it, and even
fewer succeed. On top of winning a share in a business
with me what they will gain is my experience, my team's
experience and myself guiding and supporting them.
am very excited about this series, I think it will
make fascinating viewing for all the right reasons.
I would like any aspiring restaurateur to realise
that the business, however demanding it might be,
can also be incredibly rewarding. It does not by necessity
involve unbridled masochism and egotism for
me true creativity cannot flourish in that sort of
environment. I want to see joy not just pain!
hope the series will inspire many people because at
the end of it is this huge prize. I'm putting serious
money into this new restaurant and if the winners
make it successful, they will have a share in a great
business. I'm committing myself to it and I know my
reputation is at stake."
nine couples competing for the dream prize will face
a journey fraught with difficulty, as Raymond explains:
a restaurant may look really sexy, but that wonderful
image is deceptive and very different to the real
world. The first lesson to learn is to balance your
ideas with the reality. If your head is in the clouds
your dream could easily crash down and become a nightmare
and you will become one of the statistics.
second piece of advice is to learn all the facets
of this amazing world which means understanding your
customers, becoming a good businessman and a good
communicator, marketeer and trainer turning
your restaurant into an experience and, of course,
learning how to be the perfect host. You must do your
homework. Part of what also makes a great restaurant
top of that you need a good-natured philosophy on
life to deal with the problems that arise out of these
huge challenges, together with plenty of energy and
stamina to deal with all the pitfalls you will encounter.
It's a constant balancing act. You need to be able
to get back up and smile about what has happened and
most importantly learn from it.
a restaurant is one of the most popular start up businesses,
everyone thinks they can do it. Likewise, our couples
also think they know how to run a restaurant business,
but most of them will soon realise how complex and
tough it is. These inexperienced couples will be thrown
in at the deep end as they go into an empty restaurant
and in one week must open to the public; so they will
have to learn fast."
working with someone you love sounds like a wonderful
idea The Restaurant will bear witness to how the relationships
of the couples fair under pressure. During the show
they will live and work together 24-hours a day. Every
decision, every mistake and every argument they have
will be caught on camera.
Raymond: "It is very demanding in the kitchen,
the stress of the heat, proximity, demands from the
guests, stress of co-ordination, sourcing the right
produce, training, marketing, timing
course making a profit. There are so many different
pressures, and the first thing they will have to do
is cope with that stress working together as partners.
The strength of the couple individually and together,
and how they complement each other, will be the platform
of their success."
Blanc is totally self-taught. Today he is one of the
country's most respected chefs and restaurateurs and
has been recognised this year with an OBE.
laughs: "Not bad for a little French man who
arrived in Britain with absolutely nothing!"
started his career in England as a waiter at the Rose
Revived Restaurant, and when the chef was taken ill
one day he took over.
son of a working class family from Besançon
near Dijon, Raymond understands the many challenges
facing the participants. In 1977 he risked his savings
to start his own restaurant Les Quat' Saisons in Oxford
alongside his first wife Jenny. They put together
all their meagre savings and mortgaged their house
to raise the cash.
is how most young people start their business risking
everything in order to achieve their dream.
restaurant was a humble little place on the wrong
side of the city on the wrong side of the road within
a dreary concrete shopping precinct between a ladies
underwear shop and Oxfam. We bought second-hand equipment,
decorated the restaurant with simple red and white
tablecloths, and cheap prints of Paris on the walls.
Cheap maybe, but charming and endearing too, and so
so very French!"
kitchen was another challenge altogether for the couple
when they arrived it was inhabited by a huge
family of rats.
walls were covered in grease and solidified black
tar with broken tiles. My kitchen was nine square
metres of windowless misery. It was covered by a corrugated
roof, and no insulation meant freezing temperatures
in winter and of course boiling temperatures during
the summer. I also inherited a one-legged, four-ring
gas oven, covered with chipped enamel . . . and no
was in this humble place, so dear to me, that we won
so many awards and during those formative years I
discovered pain, sleep deprivation, sweat, money worries,
family worries, health worries and business worries.
But I also discovered with my team the sweetest reward
that anyone can have the knowledge that we
gave our best."
Quat' Saisons was an overnight success, winning him
Egon Ronay Restaurant of the Year, prestigious Michelin
stars and a host of other distinctions. Now relocated
to a sumptuous small country house in Great Milton
and renamed Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons, the luxurious
hotel and restaurant is thriving, as is his chain
of Brasserie Blanc restaurants and a cookery school.
He is also the author of many best selling cookery
Raymond: "The couples taking part are very brave,
they have to leave their families, or change the schooling
of their children, it is a life changing decision
to take part in this programme it is not just
a game. They are making many sacrifices without even
knowing if they are going to win."
pair of contestants takes over an empty restaurant,
makes it their own and is open to the paying public,
responding to weekly surprises and tough challenges
set by Raymond.
job is to inspire people, to give them the tools to
succeed, to support them, as well as being tough with
them when I need to be. Talent is never enough to
want boldness and I want the couples to reveal themselves
and show me completely and honestly who they are and
who they could be. I'm not investing in the finished
article, because it takes many years to make a professional
restaurateur, it's the potential I'm after. In the
nature of being bold you do make mistakes but it's
through those failures that we learn. It's painful,
but I don't know of any success story without pain.
The joy and reward come later."
help him with the difficult task of judging which
couples to eliminate, and selecting the overall winners,
Raymond has the help of his panel of "inspectors"
restaurant industry experts Lee Cash, Sarah
Willingham and John Lederer.
says: "I am so proud of Lee, who had huge potential
when I first employed him as a young waiter. He has
grown so fast and now runs his own very special small
group of pubs.
is a great seasoned professional with only success
behind him running Michelin star restaurants, as well
as small restaurant groups from bistros to fine dining.
Sarah is an amazing businesswoman, one of the youngest
most successful entrepreneurs working in the industry
running 52 high street restaurants. She is also sharp,
witty and loves people."
is hopeful that the eventual winners of The Restaurant
will have a bright future in the industry.
people who win this prize don't just win a business
to run, they win me and my team beside them, nurturing
them and helping them make it right. Whether they
choose to stay with me long term is something else.
This will be a rewarding experience for them, they
will feel enriched and become stronger people.
have to start a restaurant for the right reasons.
You have to be in love with it and be at the very
centre of it. Whatever reasons you may have for starting
a restaurant: food, money or even fame, the founding
sentiment for success will always be the same
love. Most of all, the love of people, not just your
guests but your team too. Love makes the difference,
even when your first restaurant becomes many, without
it that little restaurant will soon become a little
got to be present and completely involved. If you
want to show off or use your restaurant as a status
symbol, you'll soon realise that it can lose you a
lot of money very quickly.
about your market; be clever and creative. Don't be
afraid to be an individual and don't follow the trends
and fashions yet, you must reinvent yourself
all the time because the world changes every ten minutes.
on my love of restaurants and people to young people
over the years has been for me the greatest reward.
My deepest desire for my industry is to train young
people who will also become great managers, managers
of money as much as managers of people who want to
give respectability to our industry it is long