Raymond Blanc sweeps across the floor of Chichester’s Brasserie Blanc with the flair and confidence of a consummate showman.
At a special dinner to unveil the new spring menu, he makes a point of speaking to every paying guest before making a speech.
It’s a courageous time for the restaurant business, with many household names reporting tough trading.
Mr Blanc said: “I am here today because it’s a wonderful opportunity to tell each of my guests what’s going to happen in these coming years and meet my wonderful team who have given to our community a wonderful quality of service.
“We can have a bit of a celebration – even in the Brexit time we can still have fun.”
He accepted that it was not easy: “In Britain it’s a big problem, a mega issue that affects all of the service industry, whether you are a restaurant, health service, agriculture departments - it’s big.
We have 70 per cent less people coming from Europe. It is a disaster for our service.
“But at Chichester and all the Brasserie Blancs we feel ready for the onslaught because we have created a restaurant which has heart, which is based on training, which is based on quality material and creativity.”
The new menu pushes new boundaries – both in terms of its geographic inspiration and its sense of spirit.
Mr Blanc said French classics remain but alongside them are more exotic dishes.
He also discussed the importance of training: “I am a self-taught chef and I came to Britain 46 years ago. It’s a long time.
“Because I was not trained I could see all the wrongs and rights in the industry.
“There was so much to change. I feel that training and supporting young people would be a big plus to your business and for example here we have 20 people who have been here more than five years and about seven more than 15 years.”