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June 18, 2024

Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons introduce Executive Head Chef Luke Selby

Raymond Blanc was born in 1949 near Besançon in Franche-Comté – a region in France near the Swiss border. One of five children, the family worked together throughout the year to grow organic vegetables, fruit and herbs in their garden, and forage and hunt in the nearby woods and lakes. His mother was a huge inspiration and a great cook, who daily recreated French classics, adapting the abundance of seasonal produce available to her.

In 1972, Raymond came to England and settled in Oxfordshire. Initially starting as a waiter, he was soon drawn into the kitchen and by 1978 alongside his wife had opened a restaurant in the city of Oxford he called Les Quat’Saisons (The Four Seasons). The restaurant earned 2 Michelin Stars and was voted the Best Restaurant in England.

When the opportunity arose to expand and purchase a large neglected country manor house with extensive gardens near Oxford, Raymond did not hesitate. In 1984, after a full renovation and refurbishment, he opened to the public and Le Manoir aux Qaut’Saisons was born. Almost immediately, it was awarded 2 stars by Michelin and has retained them now for almost 40 years.

Now boasting 32 individually designed bedroom suites, eleven stunning gardens set over 27 acres as well as the internationally acclaimed restaurant, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, a Belmond Hotel, retains the air of a quintessential English manor house, but with a creatively evolving and passionate French heart and soul. Not only does Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons boast a world-class reputation for culinary excellence, but is an inspirational destination for gastronomes and gardeners alike.
Find out more here.

Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, a Belmond Hotel is housed within a historic Grade II listed manor in the village and civil parish of Great Milton, 11 kilometres east of Oxford in England.

Purchased by the acclaimed Chef Raymond Blanc in 1983, the manor house was converted into a restaurant and hotel and opened the following year. Almost immediately the restaurant was awarded 2 stars by Michelin and has retained them each year since.

Much improved over a 40-year tenure, the 27-acre property now boasts a Gardening School and a Cookery School, pristine gardens including a striking lavender-lined footpath, manicured lawns and picturesque flower beds for guests to enjoy, extensive organic kitchen gardens, an orchard and most recently, a newly rooted vineyard.

Over the years, Le Manoir has helped pioneer cuisine in Britain and beyond through Raymond’s ethos of sustainability and inclusivity. Seasonality, foraging and a no-waste approach instilled in him from childhood have driven the development of his dishes throughout his career.

An original farm-to-table project, Le Manoir’s ever-evolving menus are inspired daily by the produce grown within the property’s grounds with Executive Head Chef Luke Selby, guided by Raymond Blanc as Chef Patron, bringing a renewed perspective to the offering and the garden-to-plate ethos.

In addition, the kitchens have been centres of training and mentorship since the restaurant opened, where up-and-coming talent has been raised to progress and place their own stamp on the gastronomic world.

Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons introducing Chef Patron Raymond Blanc and Executive Head Chef Luke Selby

Luke Selby

Born into a multi-cultural world in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Luke Selby and his two brothers were raised by their English father and Filipino mother.

As a boy, his family relocated to West Sussex in England, where his father took his boys foraging, fishing and hunting, returning home to prepare and cook together. The satisfaction of sourcing ‘wild food’ and preparing and cooking for the family, was an education that quickly became an infatuation and one that followed him into adulthood.

These early experiences would prove pivotal in shaping the direction of his culinary career. At 16, while still at school, he began working part-time in local restaurants and entering cooking competitions. Entirely self-taught with no formal culinary training, Luke’s evident talent and promise caught the attention of the chef judging panels, including the acclaimed chef, Raymond Blanc, at the Rotary Young Chef of the Year competition (2008) when Luke was just 17. After a week-long internship immersed in the philosophy and principles of Chef Raymond Blanc, Luke had found his home. The respect was reciprocated, and in 2009, Luke joined Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons as Commis Chef, working directly with Chef Raymond in his kitchen.

As he gained in experience and technique, he continued entering competitions, winning the Academy of Culinary Arts Annual Awards of Excellence in 2012, the Annual Craft Guild of Chefs Graduate Awards in 2013 and the Young National Chef of the Year in 2014.

In just 4 years, he had attained the position of Sous Chef and his brothers, Theo and Nat, had joined him in the kitchen brigade. The trio worked together for two years before Luke’s departure in 2015.

The six years he had spent at Le Manoir, had given Luke the strongest of foundations to strive forward with his career. and a lifelong respect for his mentor. Not only that, but the kitchens there had become like a second home to him, especially working alongside his brothers. It was, however, time to spread his wings.

From Oxfordshire, Luke headed to London, under Clare Smyth, where he worked at 3 Michelin-starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay as Junior Sous, before moving to a Senior Sous position under another ex-Le Manoir chef, Ollie Dabbous at his 1 Michelin-starred restaurant, Dabbous.

In just 6 months, Luke had been promoted to Head Chef and won another competition – the coveted Roux Scholarship on his first attempt in 2017. As a Roux Scholar, he could choose any restaurant in the world to complete a fully funded, three-month stagiaire position. Luke chose 3 Michelin-starred Nihonryori RyuGin in Tokyo, under Seiji Yamamoto.

Working and living in Japan, not speaking the language and learning to master a new set of culinary techniques, took Luke out of his comfort zone. It was to prove, however, a career-defining experience and one he still considers had the greatest impact on him as a chef, changing the way he viewed ingredients, produce, dishes and ultimately, his craft.

When Luke returned to the UK, he also returned to Chef Ollie Dabbous. This time as Head Chef at Ollie’s new restaurant, Hide in Mayfair, which had been open for just 2 months. Within weeks of his return, he entered another competition and won the National Chef of the Year 2018. 3 months later, Hide was awarded its first Michelin star. Having experienced the restaurant from its early stages of design and concept through to execution, growth and all the accolades that followed in the coming years, Luke decided it was time to venture out on his own path.

He stepped away from HIDE in May 2019 and, joined forces again with his brothers, Theo and Nat, and went into partnership with The Paskin Group. Together, they helped design and transform the cellar of the popular The Blue Posts pub on the edge of London’s Chinatown into a small 12-seat intimate counter called Evelyn’s Table. Tucked away in the basement, Evelyn’s Table announced Luke and his brothers would be heading up the restaurant from October 2020. Serving an evolving menu of the finest British produce and ingredients, Luke melded the techniques he had crafted in Japan with the classic French training he and his brothers had acquired over the years. Evelyn’s Table was awarded a Michelin Star in the UK & Ireland 2022 edition of the guide, with the three brothers jointly sharing the Michelin Young Chef Award 2022.

In early 2023, Luke Selby returned to Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, stating it was “like a true homecoming” to the place where his career began. Luke left London to return to the countryside and that direct hands-on connection to nature he missed. Now Executive Head Chef with his original mentor Raymond Blanc as Chef Patron, Luke brings a renewed perspective to the menus and the garden-to-plate ethos of this beloved destination restaurant. His respect and understanding of the game-changing sustainable gastronomic soul of Chef Raymond Blanc, married with his own culinary journey and experience, has evolved this most special of restaurants in the heart of rural Oxfordshire.

W: Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons
A: Church Rd, Great Milton, Oxford OX44 7PD
T: 01844 278881

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