Raymond Blanc OBE tells April Waterston how provenance and sustainability are at the heart of Eurostar’s Business dining
For the last six-and-a-half years, I have worked with Eurostar, training young people onboard. It’s important for the team to be aware of the food they are serving and to be proud of what we are doing.
We are the first transport company to have achieved a three-star rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association but I have always had these values.The first thing my mum taught me was:’Raymond, you shall waste not!’
We have done a tremendous amount of work on sourcing. We have three production centres in England, France and Brussels. We have about 30 rotations a week of different food, that’s 30 different menus including meals for vegetarians, vegans, pescatarian (not forgetting the carnivorous, of course), gluten-free, halal, children – it goes on.
Focus on provenance
Each of these dishes are created for seasonality. Seasonal means close to home, and if the produce is close to home then there’s better flavours, colours and texture. If you’re using locally-sourced ingredients instead of moving it thousands of miles, you don’t have to account for transport pollution. It’s also cheaper, meaning we have been able to keep our budgets very tight whilst increasing the quality. In the past seven years customer satisfaction has gone up by about 70% our guests appreciate what we do.
Responding to veganism
We are really responding to veganism – it’s not just a fashion. It’s a complete lifestyle choice which responds to the extraordinary abuse of food and the way it is consumed and produced. We need to eat differently for our health, and for the health of the planet.
There are some amazing things to be done with pulses, with seeds, starches, wheat, bulgar wheat and quinoa. There are ways to create a beautiful risotto with barley and herbs and spices. The plan is for all of our starters to soon be vegetarian. The modern guest is changing, and veganism is here to stay.
If you don’t respond to challenges and empower your team with knowledge, you won’t see good results. I see all of my values in Eurostar, but those values were already here. All I’ve done is help grow them with an amazing team.