Me and my travels: Raymond Blanc, restauranteur

Raymond Blanc, restauranteur

I had a great gastronomic experience in ...

Sydney. It's such an exciting city and has wonderful food and lovely architecture. I spent three days there with my son. We went to the very, very good fish market and visited Tetsuya's where we had a fantastic meal. We also ate at Bécasse, the restaurant of a young man, Justin North, whom I trained. It's a really creative place. It was great to see one of my protégés doing so well.

I was a bit disappointed with ...

Hamilton Island. I wanted to see the Barrier Reef, but it is dying. The whole place was very average and I hate average. I'd rather something was really bad or really good. The food at the hotel was average - I'd wake up dreading breakfast!

One of my most memorable meals was in ...

Australia. I ate some wonderful primitive food. Emu has a wonderful rich, deep flavour. Kangaroo is fantastic too but crocodile is tasteless.

My favourite hotel is ...

Le Club de Cavalière in the south of France. I love it. I go there for 10-12 days every summer when I'm absolutely knackered. I play tennis at 6am, then go down to the beach after the most incredible simple breakfast. My day is then broken with a traditional lunch - with lots of rosé of course.

The highlight of my holidays is ...

Reading. As a restaurateur [he is owner and chef at Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons, Oxfordhsire], I'm always too tired to read at the end of the day. My resolution this year is to read one book a month. In the summer I read a very depressing book by Zola and The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov. I love that black Russian humour.

My first trip abroad was to ...

Switzerland, aged 14. I expected the grass and sky to be a different colour! I had a very insular, regional and family-oriented upbringing. That was one of the reasons I came to England - I wanted to see different things, taste different foods and meet new people.

I would love to go to ...

South America - Colombia and Brazil. I'd love to revisit Africa too. I've been to game reserves in South Africa and Cape Town. I was shown Table Mountain in a helicopter by an ex-Vietnam pilot - it was the craziest flight of my life.

My most embarrassing travel moment was ...

In South Africa. I was flown out to give a cookery demonstration for about 50 journalists. I had drunk some of the water and was feeling ill. I started cooking and then felt terrible and ran to the loo. But I'd forgotten to turn off my microphone!

I always bring back ...

Ideas and things for the hotel or restaurant. Shells or Chinese furniture. From Vietnam I brought back some wonderful paintings by Dinh Quan and beautiful lacquers which I knew would fit well at Le Manoir.

• Raymond Blanc's A Taste of My Life is out now (Bantam Press, £20). The Restaurant is on BBC2 on Wednesdays at 8pm.


Carl Wilkinson

The GuardianTramp

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