On 25th September, Raymond Blanc’s Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons opened its doors to welcome guests for an exclusive dinner in aid of the Royal Academy of Culinary Art’s Adopt a School Trust. The annual dinner is one of Adopt a School’s most popular fundraising events, with the limited number of tickets selling out almost instantly. Once again, the event provided an unrivalled experience, highlighted by a luxury five-course menu designed and prepared by chefs Gary Jones and Benoit Blin.
The evening was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and witness the impact the Adopt a School Programme has on children’s lives. Pupils from Chalgrove Primary School, whose school is adopted by Gary Jones as part of the Adopt a School Programme, were invited into the kitchen to help prepare and serve canapés to guests upon their arrival, emphasising the raison d’etre of this fundraising event. Chef Thomas Marriage, who also received Adopt a School sessions from Gary Jones when he was at Chalgrove Primary School was so inspired by the programme, he trained to become a chef; seven years later, he has now become Commis Chef Apprentice at Le Manoir. Tom reflected on his experiences of the programme that the evening: “if it wasn’t for Adopt a School, I wouldn’t be here…I thank the programme for where I am now.” Raymond Blanc later described Tom’s experience as a “wonderful local story”.
A phenomenal team of chefs generously gave up their time to produce a sensational menu for the night. Gary Jones and his team initiated proceedings with a terrine of garden beetroot and horseradish sorbet. This was then followed by cornish crab, kaffir lime, coconut and chilli and then jambugo ham, hen’s egg, watercress puree, and toasted hazelnut. Gary Jones’ dishes culminated in a pitch perfect main course of fillet of Angus beef with braised alliums and a red wine essence. The sublime menu was finished off by Benoit Blin MCA, with a bitter chocolate marquise with soft caramel and Curcuma ice cream.
Sara Jayne Stanes OBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts and Adopt a School said: “Food education is key to giving young people the knowledge, practical skills and ability to be responsible for their wellbeing and to adopt a healthier lifestyle through informed choice. This is why programmes like Adopt a School are so important.