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4.8 out of 5 stars
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 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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VINE VOICEon 9 March 2009
I was lucky enough to meet Raymond Blanc (very briefly) last year. All in the room found him completely charming and his passion for food was totally infectious. He gossiped about his TV series 'The restaurant', asked the children there what they liked to cook, all the while encouraging us to come for lunch at Le Manoir - he has long had a policy to keep lunch an affordable treat!

This book is just like he is in person; combining episodes from his life, with stories from the trade and lots of thoughts on food and eating; and interspersed amongst the chapters are many recipes to try.

For a totally untrained chef, he is a complete natural in the kitchen. He is a real champion of quality produce and seasonal food. All this comes through in the stories of growing up helping his beloved Maman, through getting a glimpse of being a chef whilst waiting tables, and then grasping the mettle of cheffing for real when he moved to England in the 1970s where finding good produce was a problem. Luckily for us - he stayed.
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on 25 August 2010
I was totally immersed in this book from Page 1 - a fabulous read - what a man - what a life!
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on 1 May 2015
I thoght it was a book with interesting recipies but it was Raymond's biography. If you are big fan of this chef this book is perfect for you, but for me it didn't work. And that is my fault as I didn't do research before purchase.
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on 8 September 2009
I have been lucky enough to taste Raymond Blanc's cooking and, reading this book, it was easy to understand why the food tasted so good!

This autobiographical book is written in a plain, simple style that, despite a ghost-author sharing the writing credits, is highly reminiscent of the way that Raymond speaks, as far as I can tell from his television appearances. It is a charming account of his early life and his progress to become a restaurater. He has a wonderful sense of humour and uses it well.

There are numerous recipes listes throughput the book: I have not tried these (yet!), I think they would challenge a better cook than I! However, I see the book as his autobiography and it works very well as that.
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on 2 January 2009
This is a thoroughly enjoyable read for anyone interested in food and the restaurant trade. M Blanc has a jovial entertaining style and lots of good stories to tell. I have had the pleasure of dining in several of his restaurants including Le Manoir and reading this book brings back those special memories to me as it does encapsulate the atmosphere he generates in his restaurants. Anyone interested in France will also enjoy the early sections of the book which give some insight into how our french cousins (or for many of us expats - neighbours)develop their respect for food and their attachement to their regional cuisine.
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on 2 November 2013
What an inspiring book. Raymond Blanc is a very honest man - very refreshing to find in this day and age. What I particularly like is that Monsieur Blanc does not try to whitewash his business failures and challenges. Everything is told - warts and all!
It would be difficult not to admire such dedication. As you would expect from a master chef, his recipes and explanations of the techniques behind them are very informative. Unlike some other recipe books I have found the recipes in this book work just as they are written (although our oven temperature is not precise, but we have learned to adapt in all our baking cooking).
If you are interested in cooking I am sure you will find this a good read.
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on 4 February 2014
A friend lent me her copy of this book and I had to have a copy of my own. This is the best book about food, family and love that I have read in as long as I can remember.
Raymond Blanc is truly gifted and the way he writes about his childhood and growing up in France is wonderful. Whilst this is NOT a cookery book, the techniques, background and recipes have helped me understand how to improve my cooking. His dedication to improving and perfecting things is fascinating.
However the most fundamental part of his story is, for me, about his love of family, friends and his passion and integrity for food and the terroir.
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