The acclaimed chef patron of two-Michelin-starred hotel-restaurant Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons shares five of his favourite reads ahead of his return to Royal Ascot this summer
The most romantic book I have ever read. Set in the 19th century, Hervé Joncour leaves his wife and his home in France, embarking on an adventure to obtain uncontaminated silkworm eggs. In Japan, he falls in love with a woman… though there is no touching or even speaking. A powerful, dreamy novella which flows like a calm, gentle stream. I want to read it again.
The enthralling autobiographical classic about a man who refuses to be a captive. I was in awe of the mighty daring and strength of Papillon, feeling as if I was there with him, experiencing the horrors and struggles. I’ve never read a book that took me to so many places so quickly. It’s a giddy journey. One moment, the prison on Devil’s Island; the next, a wretched raft on shark-infested seas.
Cooking in Ten Minutes
Edouard de Pomiane
A well-fed, bald-headed scientist with a big moustache and an even larger sense of humour. That was Pomiane, connoisseur extraordinaire. I was a young man when I came across La Cuisine en Dix Minutes, and I was instantly hooked. For me, however, this book is not really about his recipes, but instead his compelling, quirky, witty, conversational style. In fact, his ‘voice’ partly inspired my own book, Simply Raymond.
Bernard Loiseau: Mon Mari
Bernard Loiseau was a great chef, a pioneer of nouvelle cuisine. How sad that he took his own life in 2003, and what a terrible loss. This biography is written lovingly by his widow, Dominique. I remember Bernard as a forceful character, full of laughter. As with many great chefs, however, there was fragility, the fear of losing it all. His name lives on as Dominique took over the business. Indeed she’s opening a restaurant, Loiseau du Temps, in my home town, Besançon.
The Heart of a Dog
This was recommended to me by my partner, my wonderful Natalia. It may well be the funniest book I’ve ever read. A satire of Bolshevism, this is the tale of a surgeon who transforms a dog so that it becomes part human. Surreal, absurd, hilarious. I remember reading it on a train, tears of laughter running down my cheeks – the other passengers stared at me as if I was crazy!
Simply Raymond: Recipes from Home, published by Headline Home, is priced £25. Raymond returns to the Panoramic at Royal Ascot this summer as chef ambassador to the racecourse.