When one thinks of a French chef passion comes to mind. Raymond Blanc is no exception.

As BBC Two launches a new addition to its food season, Kew on a Plate, I met the chef, who has two Michelin stars to his name, to discuss the programme.

Kew on a Plate focuses on growing and cooking seasonal produce, using the Victorian kitchen gardens that haven’t seen fruit and vegetables sown for 100 years. The Kew gardeners grew the produce and it was Raymond’s job to create something fabulous with it.

Seasonality is a subject close to Raymond’s heart. Many of the ingredients he uses in his famous Oxfordshire restaurant, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, come from the adjacent two-acre kitchen garden that is home to some 90 types of vegetable and an impressive 70 varieties of herb.

The garden at Kew is also clearly very important to him, “The programme was all about seasonality, it was about Kew, the science, the heritage at Kew. It is history but also at the heart of it is seasonality and there is no better way to show that than to grow food over the old royal garden.”

While Raymond’s passion was evident, the way he displayed it was surprising. The chef put on his glasses, opened up one of his many over-flowing files stuffed with reports and got down to figures.

His obsession is with the details; he was determined to find the statistics on the gooseberry crop, one of the few failures of the garden. Raymond talked of breeding plants, the science behind it, the numbers and yields.

“Often you think heritage varieties are good, hybrids are bad. However we have to recognise the science behind hybrids. Through cross-breeding we can eventually produce plants immune to more disease, with better flavour and will also have a good shelf life.”

He applied this when choosing strawberry varieties at Kew, “I always love the English old-fashshioned strawberries like ‘Sovereign’, but I also wanted to show newer varieties like Buddy and Marshmallow.”

When he paused between numbers, Raymond allowed a rare question about the British and their eating habits. His face lit up, “The British consumer is at last demanding flavour. They are a much more responsible, knowledgeable consumer.”

Read more: Raymond Blanc on growing veg and the British food “revolution”

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