Celebrity chef talks to St Albans food producers

Raymond Blanc, right, with Mandy James and farmer Howard Roberts.

Raymond Blanc, right, with Mandy James and farmer Howard Roberts.

First published in News St Albans & Harpenden Review: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

Celebrity chef Raymond Blanc visited Redbourn today to meet local producers in preparation for the opening of his new restaurant.

The television personality spent the morning looking around Redbournbury Mill in Redbourn Road, talking to people who grow and make food products in the district.

During his visit he was on the lookout for ingredients to use on the specials menu in his new restaurant, Brasserie Blanc, which is due to open in Verulam Road later this month.

He said: "My job as a chef is to help the farmer reconnect with his craft.

"There is good produce around here.

"It is so important for these crafts to be kept in our villages and towns.

"If we lose our crafts we will have to import it."

As part of his tour, the TV chef had the chance to try some of the products on offer to St Albans residents.

Mandy James, who owns the mill, said: "It is quite flattering to have somebody so famous come here.

"It has been great. "The restaurant will attract people into the town."

Elizabeth Harris, from Childwickbury Goats Cheese, was one of the local producers to attend today’s meeting.

She said: "It is encouraging to have someone like Raymond come down and be so interested in local produce.

"He is so passionate about it - it is very exciting."

Mr Blanc is getting to know the district as final preparations are made for his restaurant opening.

The chef has taken over two vacant units to create his new site.

He said: "I want to create a place that is happy and that sells good food.

"Eating is not just filling your belly it is about sharing a moment.

"St Albans is a fantastic city - it is lovely.

"I feel at ease here.

There are a lot of people who love their food.

"I think we will do well here."

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