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4.8 out of 5 stars44
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 5 March 2012
What a wonderful autobiography! This is just magical; whether you are a 'foodie' or not, Monsieur Blanc's memories of growing up in the Besancon area of France simply sing with a freshness and zest of expression and a real appreciation of what it means to be well-fed within a large, exuberant and loving family. And to add a touch of 'seasoning' to an already well-peppered dish, it is very, very funny!

Raymond gives a recipe for rabbit in mustard and says that this meat divides France and Britain - in France the lapin is a meal, in the UK it is a pet. I have only eaten rabbit once ( at 'Rules' in Covent Garden and boy! was it good! ) since my childhood in Yorkshire, and I have never cooked it; yet my Mother, a working-class mill-hand from Leeds, used to make a rabbit stew with carrot gravy to die for, served with the creamiest mashed potatoes and Yorkshire Puddings ( as only a Yorkshire-person who knows the very simple but vital secret ingredient can make...). So there I was, transported by Raymond Blanc's Lapin a la Moutard back to the days of my childhood in the '50's, longing to acquire a bunny and cook it like my mother did. Alas, she died many decades ago, so I will never be able to ask her whether she pan-fried and sealed it before putting the jointed rabbit into the tin casserole pot with baby onions and carrots - the mystery remains.

For everyone who can appreciate the turn of the seasons and the food they each bring to perfection, this is a brilliant book. Bon appetit, and Raymond - merci beaucoup et sante!
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on 29 October 2008
This is a wonderful book - full of great stories about the food in Raymond's life and the life in his food. You learn something amazing about food on every page, all framed in the story of the great man's life. Anyone with even a passing interest in what they eat will find something here to get their juices flowing...
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on 24 February 2011
I have many many books - especially cook books - & have to rate this as one of the nicest & most inspirational I have read recently.
Apart from the quality of writing that other reviewers have described along with the general gist of the book, I would like to add that I have tried many of the given recipes interspersed within the text & found nearly all of them to be delicious & well explained.
The most useful being the marvelous method for cooking any veg quickly, healthily & tastily (with a knob of butter, hardly any water & a high heat) - not really a recipe I know, but it's great when you can take away a really useful tip from a book that you can use on a regular basis without further reference.
Highly recommended.
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on 22 January 2009
A humble insight into the upbringing and life of a Michelin star chef who really cares about where he has come from, his childhood inspiration for cooking and how a planned visit to a Michelin start restaurant at the age of 18 (blowing his whole fortune on a meal) inspired him to great achievements. Having been to Le Manoir and also living in Oxford I was intrigued as to who he 'really' is and this book reveals all the highs and lows endured to reach the top.............and stay there for decades.
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on 25 May 2011
Remembrances of garden tomatoes ripening on our window sill came back to me while reading Raymond Blanc's memoir - I'd forgotten...
I never did learn to taste dirt as a child.
Perhaps I would be in the kitchen instead of at the drawing board if I had.

Altogether a warm and very personal look inside growing up in provincial France. And thusly how the joys of quotidienne French country life in a small village led to fine restaurants, glamour and excellent cuisine.
Captivating!
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on 28 September 2010
Excellent book with recipes as a bonus. You can see from his determination why he has become the person he is. Just one example: when he was a waiter in a borderline restaurant, he made sure his tables were the cleanest, with the crockery and glasses gleaming. He always makes the most of whatever the situation is, to improve. You will want only to cook your own food after reading this and never buy a ready made meal.Organic and fresh food is now high priority. A great read.
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on 8 July 2010
What a wonderfull book, before reading it I had a great fondness for Raymond Blanc, but now I feel a true respect for one of the worlds great chefs, businessmen,father and a person who has a passion to share his knowledge.
Not only do you learn about the man but you improve your own cooking skill, and understand the power of shearing.
Hard work and focus must be tempered with careing. One of my best reads ever.
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on 3 February 2013
I found the story of Raymond Blanc's life a gripping read. The recipes here can be quite complicated but he dishes out good tips that any aspiring chef would find useful. However, it is not the recipes or tips that make the book so great but rather it is the story about his life that I found most inspiring. Through his life story and the ups and downs that he relates, I can really appreciate and admire his perseverance, determination and his doggedness in sticking to his principles. I was very moved by how he sought to be best waiter back in France and would take pride in serving his customers well even when carrying out mundane tasks, and how he would polish the glasses till they shone. He took such great pride in his work; it is both inspiring and humbling to read. This kind of work ethic is sorely lacking in today's young and if I could, I would make every young person read this book when they first venture out to the working world.
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on 22 February 2010
I've always been fascinated by Raymond Blanc; why did he come to the UK, why has he stayed, how did he get started - it's a fascinating story. But, don't expect a connected narrative; it is more a collection of stories, ideas and recipes and is very cleverly put together so that each informs the other in the sequence of his life. I'm guessing that M. Blanc does not get much time for writing and wants to make it count!

I found particularly interesting some of the general comments on cooking; Chapter Twenty-four is called Thought and is about salt and seasoning in general. And not the least is the observation which I have known, mutely, all my latter cooking life, that when you add seasoning during the progress of the cooking, it will differ in strength and effect. I know that's obvious, but boy, does it need saying. With some dishes if you forget an ingredient it behoves you to think long and hard about the effects of adding it in later; garlic and salt are two things that spring to mind where the effects are totally different, if added at the start or at the end. Worth buying for the generic advice alone.

The insight into his childhood and French country life is fascinating to a francophile like myself (and for more of the same in visual form, watch the beautiful and poetic Etre et Avoir; it's subtitled, but very much worth watching).
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on 9 January 2012
Excellent book detailing how and why Raymond Blanc became an exceptional well respected chef as he takes you through his life with interesting points along the way.
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