The Raymond Blanc effect

Enthusiastic opening for new Paris lounge

February 6, 2017

Eurostar’s new Business Premier lounge opened last week in Paris, Gare du Nord overseen by culinary director, Raymond Blanc. Jo Austin took a look.

It’s infectious, but in the best of ways. Everyone was catching the fever – it went viral in minutes. I am talking about the ‘Raymond Blanc effect’. A man with so much energy, passion, enthusiasm and belief in all the good things in life, that it is impossible not to catch the bug.

Michelin Star chef, Raymond Blanc OBE, has been Eurostar’s Business Premier culinary director for the past five years, and I met him on the top floor of Gare du Nord in Paris at the opening of Eurostar’s new Business Premier lounge.

This completely new space above the station has taken on an elegant yet comfortable look with the feel of a Parisian apartment. There are snug seating areas, sofas, a marble fireplace and contemporary art curated by the Hospital Club in London, showcasing French artists.

Formerly offices and then a hotel, this light and airy space with domed ceilings and huge windows offering views across Paris can now welcome up to 160 Eurostar Business Premier travellers. Raymond’s role is to ensure they are all supremely well fed.

The open-style kitchen with wooden tables and back-lit refrigerated shelves features a mix of savoury and sweet, hot and cold dishes including gluten-free chocolate cakes, a colourful array of canapés on platters, seasonal soups, houmous and salads accompanied by breads and seeded sticks. Raymond has worked closely with the catering team at Festins de Bourgogne, a highly regarded traiteur in Dijon, to advise on high-quality seasonal and sustainable dishes that combine the best of British and French cuisine. After all, says Raymond, “The best thing that ever happened between France and the UK was the building of the Channel Tunnel”.

Passengers can help themselves to hot or cold drinks and a special English feature introduced by Raymond is a bespoke Cornish smoked manuka Earl Grey tea created by Tregothnan, Britain’s first and only tea producer.

The sunken cocktail bar adds another dimension to the lounge, providing an atmospheric space and a selection of cocktails designed by London Cocktail Club. ‘Toujours 21’ is a hand-crafted gin designed exclusively for Eurostar by Raymond in partnership with artisan Silent Pool Distillery and is a main ingredient of Angelique, one of Raymond’s signature cocktails for the bar.

The opening of the business lounge in Paris is part of Eurostar’s wide-reaching programme of investment in its stations and I can’t wait to see the next. Perhaps Raymond will have to ‘go Dutch’ when Eurostar launches its new service to Amsterdam at the end of the year?