The Raymond Blanc Chef Scholarship Programme will expand on the chef’s existing Ascot Service Academy at the racecourse’s Panoramic Restaurant. Blanc, owner of Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat'Saisons in Oxfordshire, has advised on the site’s menu design, staff training, and service standards for the past three years.
The new programme will focus specifically on the chef team, and offer Ascot chefs the chance to work closely with Blanc and his team at Le Manoir throughout the year.
Chef Matt Shipley, who began as a sous chef at Ascot, will be Blanc’s apprentice for its inaugural year. His training will include one-on-one training demonstrations, cooking at Le Manoir with Blanc himself, and working alongside him at each of the five race days at Royal Ascot.
Front line teams in the restaurants will also receive a more rigorous skills training, focused around wine and barista skills, as well as working alongside key suppliers and sponsors.
Phil Howard joins Blanc in new menus
The scholarship programme comes as Blanc and fellow high-profile chef Phil Howard – formerly two-Michelin-starred chef at Mayfair’s The Square, now at Elystan Street ‒ have joined Ascot to cook at the fine dining sites The Panoramic Restaurant and On 5, respectively.
During Royal Ascot, each chef will work with executive chef Gemma Amor to produce original and seasonal menus.
"I am honoured to return to Royal Ascot for another year with a fresh new menu," Blanc says. "The standard and expectations are always high at such an iconic event but I know my team and I can deliver."
"I feel prepared and enjoy rising to the challenge," says Howard. "When planning the menu, seasonal British produce was at the forefront of my mind to create dishes that are both delicious and visually stunning – in keeping with such a prestigious occasion. It’s a privilege to have my dishes served at the Royal Meeting once again."
Best of British
The training also coincides with Ascot’s renewed focus on promoting ‘the best of British’, sustainable produce, including products created by or very close to the Ascot racecourse.
This will include rainbow trout from Hampshire’s Chalk Stream for the Ascot private boxes, plus a selection of British seafood and fish in the Parade Ring restaurant.
There will also be pork from the Royal Estate, and condiments from Highgrove House in Gloucestershire, home to Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.
British wagyu beef will feature on the restaurant menus, as will new artisan-style ewe’s milk cheese, ‘Duttamore’, which is exclusive to Ascot.