Raymond Blanc - Thames's New Publican! -
WORLD CLASS CHEF, Raymond Blanc, told party guests at the opening of his new proteges' restaurant, The Thatch, that he had always wanted to run an English pub, and that he would now have to grow a nice Belly!
"It just shows that a Frenchman can be humbled!" he added.
Raymond was speaking to 350 invited guests, including some of the other contestants, to celebrate with his TV programme competition winners, Jane and Jeremy Hooper.
"The last three months on TV, I have spent much of my time closing down restaurants," he said. "So, it is with immense pleasure that I am now opening Eight At The Thatch with Jeremy and Jane.
"I will support and help them to achieve their dream of running their own restaurant. They are great people and with a great team around them, I am sure it will happen."
Jane told ThameNews.Net: "Tonight is all about 'warming' our restaurant and making it feel like home."
"We have been on a journey towards our dream that has not stopped since January. Tonight our dream has become a reality. We are still amateurs with a lot to learn and the journey is going to be long.
"We want to settle in Thame and be open to everyone - not just celebrity, and like Raymond, we want to support local producers."
Speaking about the strains on him over the last few hectic months, Jeremy, who has kept his option to return to the Royal Marines after a year, said: "I got more sleep in the sand dunes of Iraq than I have since all this began. Now, after tonight, I can't wait to just get on with it."
Among the guests from Thame were Butchers, Michael and Tom Newitt, who will supply much of the meat to the Thatch's kitchen and who have been helping develop the menu. Also sharing the excitement was Hair dresser and Town Councillor, Adam Buckland, Jewelller, Matthew Cundy and Hadley Gallery owner, Bob Hadley, who presented the Hoopers with a picture for the restaurant.
The interior of the 16th Century Grade 11, listed building has been completely redesigned to bring a freshness and warmth to the new restaurant. The designer, Jo Eames, who was at the party, said:"One of the main challenges was to create an instant link beteween the Tudor and modern part of the building, the new restaurant area, so that the two would sit harmoniously together. We achieved this by opening up the central bar area enabling diners to see right through to the other side, and by creating an inviting walkway into the new eatery."
The new restaurant is in a new extension to the original building, and the aim of blending the old and the new seems to work, though it was difficult to get a real feel for the place with so many people crammed into the building!
There is a welcoming bar area just as you enter the building and Jane was very keen to point out that they want local people to feel that they can use the place as a pub and just come in and sit and have a drink. There are open fires in every section of the establishment maintaining a cosy feel, and yet extra light has been created by re-painting the previously red walls, with a very pale, matt cream finish.
The 'nibbles'which were taken round by several very polite young Thame teenagers lucky enough to get jobs at Thame's newest restaurant, included pork pie and some wonderful, French oysters! All washed down with Cava.
And what of the views of the locals as to the prospects for Jane and Jeremy in achieving their dream? ThameNews.Net quizzed a few of them:
"What a transformation? - Amazing!"
"A bit disappointed to be served Cava! (from a local wine importer). Also, I am not sure that Jane and Jeremy are the right couple for the type of clientelle the restaurant is aimed at."
"Just what Thame needs, and I wish them all the luck in the world."
"It all looks wonderful; let's hope that when the honeymoon period is over, and the baby has arrived to bring them down to earth, Jane and Jeremy can keep the drive and energy needed in this industry to make a success of it. I hope so."
Photos: Jane and Jeremy in Party mood last night at the opening of their new restaurant, Eight At The Thatch, in Thame.