RESTAURANT 2009 RETURNS TO BBC
& COOKING ARTICLE
the huge success of Raymond Blanc's The Restaurant over
the last two years the internationally renowned chef
returns in 2009 for the third series to find a winning
couple to go into business with him.
to The Restaurant
chef and restaurateur Raymond Blanc returns to BBC
Two on Thursday 29 October at 8.00pm in his third
series of The Restaurant, with nine couples hungry
for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to open a restaurant
From their first meeting with the Michelin-starred
maestro the nine couples are in at the deep end facing
a series of increasingly tough challenges. All are
designed to test the creativity and practical skills
they need to display before they get the keys to their
own restaurants. Get it wrong and the doors are closed.
Tough times on the high street mean Raymond Blanc
is not in the market for dreamers and the pressure
is on to show him they have what it takes to survive.
"The industry is under tremendous difficulty,"
says Raymond. "Every day restaurants are closing
down. I must tell you that the customer has become
demanding, picky... he wants the best value for money
and expects great things. So the pressure is on us
all. We must aim higher. We must do better."
Throughout this series Raymond Blanc is a regular
presence in the couples' restaurants scrutinising
their relationships, business ideas and cooking skills.
No disasters or triumphs go unnoticed as the couples
fight to keep their restaurants open.
Upping the pressure are Raymond's eagle-eyed industry
experts: Sarah Willingham and David Moore who, as
investors in this year's prize, are looking for a
strong brand concept and service excellence.
The filming of the series takes place in Bristol
in the competitive market of a typical UK high street,
with couples eager to prove they can cut the mustard
in this culinary minefield.
Executive producer Chloe Solomon says: "The
ability to grow is what Raymond is looking for. He
is driven by an incredible work ethic and is inspirational
in part because he knows a dream is not enough
success depends on sound business sense and
hard work, as much as creativity.
"Having nurtured more Michelin-starred chefs
and front of house managers than any other chef it
is an undeniable privilege for our couples to learn
from one of the best."
Born in Besançon, France, in 1949, Raymond
Blanc is acknowledged as one of the finest chefs in
the world. His exquisite cooking has received tributes
from every national and international guide to culinary
Raymond Blanc arrived in England in 1972 to work
as a waiter at the Rose Revived Restaurant near Witney.
When the chef became ill he took over and, two years
later, the restaurant gained entry into the Michelin
At the age of 28 Raymond Blanc opened his first restaurant,
Les Quat' Saisons, in Summertown, Oxford. After just
one year, the restaurant was named Egon Ronay Restaurant
of the Year and a host of other accolades including
Michelin Stars and Pestle & Mortar awards followed.
It was in 1984 that he fulfilled a personal vision,
creating a hotel and restaurant in harmony when he
opened Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons in Great Milton,
Oxford. Le Manoir is the only country house hotel
in the UK which has achieved two Michelin Stars for
a total of 22 years.
In 1986, Raymond opened his first Brasserie Blanc
in Oxford his aim was to be the best within
the brasserie scene in England, serving good quality,
affordable food. He now has eight brasseries across
Passionate about sharing his knowledge, in 1991 Raymond
Blanc established his eponymous cookery school, welcoming
both enthusiastic amateurs and professional cooks
to the kitchen. The school provides the opportunity
to develop your own skills while learning some of
Raymond's own kitchen secrets.
In 2008, he was awarded an honorary OBE (Officer
of the British Empire) in recognition of his services
in promoting culinary excellence and for raising awareness
of the importance of healthy food as a central element
of family life.
Raymond has also written a host of best-selling cookery
Inspector, Sarah Willingham
Sarah Willingham is one of the youngest, most
successful people in the food and leisure industries.
Sarah was recently acknowledged by Management Today
and The Times as one of the "35 most successful
women under 35" in the UK; she joined the Courvoisier's
top 500 in 2007; Who's Who of Britain's business elite
in 2008; and was voted as Business Weekly's Young
Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2007.
Sarah has three business degrees including an MBA
from Cranfield University.
In 2004 Sarah raised the finance to buy The Bombay
Bicycle Club, where she turned a heavily loss-making
business of six restaurants into a very profitable
group of 17 establishing the largest chain
of Indian restaurants in the UK. She successfully
sold them in 2007 and is currently working on a number
of other business ventures.
Inspector, David Moore
David is the long-standing creative force behind
London's Pied à Terre restaurant, which opened
He began his career under the leadership of Raymond
Blanc at Le Manoir Aux Quat' Saisons. His superlative
front-of-house management skills have taken him to
some of the most illustrious dining establishments
including The Box Tree in Ilkley, the Louis XV in
Monaco and La Belle Otero in Cannes, France.
It is a love of French haute cuisine that drives
David forward. Since its launch, his restaurant has
achieved two Michelin Stars.
In 2007, he opened a sister restaurant, L'Autre Pied,
with business partner, Shane Osborn, and Chef Marcus
Eaves from Pied à Terre.
As befits a consummate front of house professional,
David prides himself on his attention to detail and
can even be found rearranging objects in other restaurants
to improve the aesthetic. Extolling the virtues of
a well-organised waiter station, he is an expert multi-tasker
who insists on keeping an air of mystery in his restaurants,
adding to the magic of the dining experience.
In the past year, as well as working on his first
cookery book, David has also backed an ex-Pied à
Terre chef, Tom Van Zeller, in opening his restaurant.
Barney and Badger
(Chef) and Badger (Front of House)
Barney and Badger (Gary and Barrington) are from
Essex and Kent.
These former military men, with a combination of
35 years in army service, see modern English cuisine
as the order of the day.
They want to create "a relaxed and informal
dining experience", but they intend to operate
both front and back of house with military precision
as they share the same work ethic "to
get the job done" and see running a restaurant
as the same as running any army operation.
Badger was in the army for 22 years, serving as a
Barney is a sergeant with 13 years as an army chef
and an NVQ 3 in catering. While head chef at the barracks
in Colchester, he was cooking for 400 soldiers on
a budget of £1.97 per person each day.
He is dedicated to honing his skills and regularly
organises large catering functions within the army.
He's also cooked for royalty, including Princess Anne
and Prince Harry.
The pair joined forces to take part in The Restaurant
they've known each other for just six weeks
after Badger head-hunted chef Barney to apply with
him to create an unbeatable combination.
On the menu in their self-named eatery, Barrington
and Badger, would be signature dishes including pan-fried
sea bass, slow-roasted pork belly and lobster-stuffed
"My dream is to own a Michelin starred restaurant,
if I be truthfully honest," says Barney.
Chris and Nathan
(Chef) and Nathan (Front of House)
Chris and Nathan are from Kent and London.
These best mates from South East London want to serve
Modern British cuisine in a restaurant where the atmosphere
is laid back with a youthful, lively vibe, serving
top-class food at mid-priced eating.
Chris is currently a chef at a weight-loss boot camp
in Wales but has been in the catering industry for
Nathan, meanwhile, trained at Westminster Kingsway
College in catering but then moved on to the London
College of Fashion, specialising in hair design, and
is now working as a hairdresser.
Chris has an NVQ Levels 1-3 in cookery and hospitality
management and a food hygiene and health and safety
certificate. His current role entails cooking nutritional,
healthy meals as part of an expensive and respected
Chris and Nathan have been friends since high school
they used to pot-wash in a kitchen together!
Neither is afraid of a bit of hard work and they can't
believe their shared dream of opening their own restaurant
could be turning into a reality.
For Nathan, front-of-house charm comes courtesy of
his current role as a hairdresser where chatting with
clients and making them feel relaxed is second nature.
He has also got a year's training at catering college
in basic food knowledge and front-of-house skills.
A typical dish from their restaurant would be lamb
rump with 3-pepper ketchup and sweet potato chips.
Also on their menu are a coconut and amaretto parfait
and a strawberry strudel with white chocolate ice
"We feel good food shouldn't have to break
the bank. Our concept gives affordable food
almost like a champagne lifestyle with a lemonade
pocket," says Nathan.
Daisy and Nadine
(Chef) and Nadine (Front of House)
Daisy and Nadine are from Herefordshire and London.
Best friends since secondary school, Daisy and Nadine
share a passion for food and a dream of running a
Although not Nigerian themselves they would like
to open a rustic Nigerian restaurant called D'Soirée
and with their motto, "greatness achieved through
excellence", they want every customer to leave
with a smile on their face!
Daisy, who currently works for TFL (Transport for
London), was taught by her mum, who has been cooking
"forever". She's a voracious dinner party
host with a diploma in Events Management and is currently
studying for a Level 2 Professional Cooking certificate.
Meanwhile, coping with all the trials and tribulations
as a midwife means nothing should be able to faze
Nadine which, combined with her bubbly, vivacious
personality, should ensure front-of-house success.
For both, running a profit-making restaurant should
be a cinch with their strong business credentials.
On the menu would be classic Nigerian dishes such
as okra soup, pounded yam, jollof rice and fish with
plantain. They want to emphasise their colourful choice
of cuisine with unusual meat dishes peppering their
menu including guinea fowl, goat meat and duck.
"My main aim is to put Nigerian food on the
map to capture the true taste of Nigeria,"
Janet and Sean
(Chef) and Sean (Front of House)
Janet and Sean are from Berkshire.
Partners in life and in business, Janet and Sean
want to put their tried and tested skills and impeccable
teamwork to a new venture.
The couple are hoping to incorporate Swedish cuisine
into their menu (Janet lived in Sweden in the Eighties)
with an emphasis on seasonality and an aim to update
their menu regularly.
Their motto is "less choice and more quality".
Janet is a keen amateur cook. She strongly believes
in seasonality in cooking and grows her own fruit
and vegetables on an allotment, and in their garden
she grows herbs and fruit.
Sean is the host with the most and a self-confessed
born entertainer. Together, the happy couple host
dinner parties most weekends, plus the occasional
party for clients, creating and serving three-course
dinners for upwards of 20 guests.
The couple's love and knowledge of all things floral
will be a main feature within the interior décor
and also in the food. Edible flowers are something
Janet would like to incorporate into savoury and sweet
dishes to give their restaurant extra panache.
"It has been a dream for many years now to
have our own restaurant. At this stage in our lives
this would be such a huge step up on the ladder,"
JJ and James
(Chef) and James (Front of House)
JJ and James are from London.
Friends, housemates and business partners, the hugely
ambitious pair boast a host of management and marketing
credentials between them.
Currently co-owners of a cocktail bar in London,
the two are hoping to expand into the culinary world
with The Picnic Club a picnic platter concept
where diners would be invited to choose classic picnic
snacks and grilled items, which are brought in hampers
to their tables to create the "perfect picnic
Front of house, James is Australian and met award-winning
cocktail maker JJ 10 years ago on a rugby tour. They
often throw dinner parties for friends and come from
big families who are passionate about cooking.
JJ has successfully competed in various cocktail
and bartending competitions.
Food will be classic style British food but the presentation
will be Tapas and Thali in style mini scotch
eggs, corn on the cobs, pork pies, quiches, etc, with
an extensive selection of home-made sauces available
to accompany the dishes such as apple and pear,
red-wine gravy and fresh tomato chutney.
They want an extensive cocktail list including an
ex-pat drinks menu with beverages dedicated to Britain's
"We've got confidence in the fact we're going
to win this competition for sure. We don't take anything
on unless we're going to go at it 100 per cent,"
Sarah and Joe
(Front of House) and Sarah (Chef)
Sarah and Joe are from Devon.
This mother-and-son partnership are sure that their
solid relationship will help them succeed with a French-English
menu comprising simple dishes packed with lots
of seasonal flavour despite having not worked
The look and feel of their place will be modern,
unpretentious, warm and inviting.
Sarah is a part-time cook with 12 years experience
in the restaurant trade responsible for everything
from menu-planning, cooking, sourcing and ordering
food to organising staff. She also has five years
in a vegetarian eatery, plus a season working on board
a French boat in Antigua and her 'foodbook' of food
styling and recipes to help her.
Joe, who has a GNVQ in both catering and business
studies, has also been a head chef, a head waiter
and is now working at a successful garden centre.
He also has his own allotment.
Their menu includes warm reared beef with salsa verde
and new potatoes, and raised field mushrooms roasted
with spinach, peppers, garlic and goats cheese. They
want their cuisine to only ever incorporate healthy,
fresh food and there's plenty of room on the menu
for lots of Sarah's signature salads.
"We thought of a few names like Blanc-ity
Blanc but we didn't think Raymond would like
that very much!" says Joe.
Frances and Lucy
(Chef) and Lucy (Front of House)
Frances and Lucy are from Gloucestershire.
They describe themselves as "country girls"
who have been brought up on local produce and feel
very strongly about incorporating this element into
their restaurant model.
Their concept is for rustic, farmhouse dining with
"a touch of modern elegance" using only
Currently studying biology, Frances spends her spare
time working for a catering company and running a
small catering business of her own with skills gleaned
from a four-week intensive cookery course during her
gap year. She also has silver-service waitress experience
and never dines out without her notepad and pencil
so she can record the pros and cons of each restaurant
Young and ambitious, the girls have been firm friends
since meeting at Cheltenham College in their teens.
Lucy would love to apply her strong marketing skills
to the restaurant trade. No stranger to the front
of house experience, she has worked as a waitress
during holidays since the age of 16.
On their menu would be whole baked bream, herb-crusted
rack of lamb and grilled rib eye steak, with an extensive
wine list and staff fully briefed on which wines best
accompany which dishes.
"Our concept is British contemporary food
using locally produced seasonal ingredients. If it
wasn't local it wouldn't go out," says Lucy.
Natalie and Sandy
(Chef) and Sandy (Front of House)
Natalie and Sandy are from Yorkshire. Mother and
daughter have worked side-by-side in the kitchen at
home and feel this will translate well in to a working
Their dream is to serve English-Indian fusion food
celebrating the Forties and the Days of the Raj, called
Missy BaBa, after Sandy's nickname. Dishes would incorporate
the colonial clash of cultures that came together
during that time from the English, Irish, Indian,
Goan, Mauritian and Burmese.
Natalie has 12 years experience in sales and marketing
in luxury four star or above hotels as well
as being a qualified interior designer.
Missy Baba's would have forties style mirrors, chandeliers
and ornaments adorning the interior.
Sandy says she is a "natural host" and
as part of her day-to-day work as a bank manager she
regularly deals with difficult customers. Working
front of house does not faze her.
A daily special will be on offer, with signature
dishes such as Missy BaBa's chicken feast and saffron
rice, pan seared shrimps with fresh chilli and steamed
mussels with cream and lemon glass. Desserts are important
to the girls a patisserie-style display cabinet
tempting diners with fresh pastries will be set-up
near the entrance.
"We see it as a great challenge and a great
opportunity. We're in it to win it," says
Rebecca and Stephen
(Front of House) and Stephen (Chef)
Rebecca and Stephen are from London.
Married couple Rebecca and Stephen want to serve
simple, tasty, traditional British fare that caters
for all the family in a smart, clean and colourful
The order of the day for the couple is real value
for money and a menu providing quality and not quantity.
Stephen has worked for 12 years in the catering industry
and is currently catering manager/head chef at a private
hospital. Although he designs the menu and works as
much as he can in the kitchen he is often tied up
doing more administrative duties and this frustrates
him as it keeps him away from his primary passion:
Rebecca is a former estate agent who loves selling
and loves people. Despite having no front of house
experience she believes she is the best at sales
and that selling houses is the same as selling food
on her husband's menu!
However, though claiming to wear the trousers in
their relationship, she also admits that catering
is her husband's domain and wants to take a step back
now and learn how to bite her tongue!
On the menu would be lamb cutlets, beef and ale pie
and sausage and mash.
"If I can do good food, and she sells good
food as well as she can sell a bad house, we're both
going to be a success!" says Steve.
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