As well as being the Culinary Director of the Raymond Blanc Cookery School, Mark Peregrine has the distinction of being the first apprentice taken on by Blanc in the kitchen of the chef’s first UK restaurant, Les Quat’Saisons in Oxford, back in 1979. After four and a half years, Mark’s culinary adventures took him first to France, then to London, where he discovered a passion for teaching at Le Cordon Bleu and indulged his love of patîsserie by setting up and running The Pastry Shop, supplying the likes of John Lewis and Harvey Nichols. Eventually, however, the wheel came full circle, and in 2010, Mark returned to the Raymond Blanc family, and today, he leads the tutor team at Belmond Le Manor aux Quat’Saisons…
How did you end up teaching cooking?
After working many years in the kitchen an opportunity arose at Le Cordon Bleu in London. That was where I fell in love with teaching.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
I don’t really have one. I do like challenges.
…and the best?
Watching the students leave the courses with confidence to try things they may not have done before.
Do you have a favourite course or topic that you teach?
I love both patisserie and fish.
What do you think is the trickiest dish/technique that your teach in your classes?
On the chocolate course, the Raymond Blanc classic: The chocolate coffee cup.
How would you describe the atmosphere in the school kitchen?
Relaxed and fun.
What do you think makes the school at Le Manoir stand out?
The school is in the kitchens of a two-Michelin-star Michelin restaurant. We also have the use of the amazing gardens and produce.
Do you think some people are just bad cooks? Or can everyone be saved?
I believe most people can cook to varying degrees.
Be honest now: are there any ingredients that you use in your classes that you don’t actually like?
No. But although I teach the chocolate course, I cannot eat it!
How often do you introduce new classes, and how do you decide what to teach?
We add two to three new classes a year. Subjects are decided by talking to guests, visiting other schools, and keeping up to date with current topics.
What are your three desert-island dishes?
Poulet aux morilles (chicken with morelles), Iles Flottantes (floating islands) and sushi/dim sum.