Yorkshire Life Reader Event - Raymond Blanc on the Belmond Northern Belle
PUBLISHED: 00:00 07 December 2015
There's nothing quite like a luxury train journey to bring out the best in passengers, as Esther Leach discovers. Photographs by Andy Bulmer
There was laughter, music and magic on the 5.32pm Belmond Northern Belle leaving platform 10 at York Station on a journey hosted by Michelin starred-chef Raymond Blanc. The privately charted, period-style carriages rattled along the tracks while uniformed stewards served, almost continuously, food and drink to the 200 or so guests.
Yorkshire Life readers joined the party enjoying a menu created by Raymond Blanc who worked alongside his development chef Adam Johnson and their team in the tiny galley. Dishes were served with fine French wines as professional musicians serenaded guests and a magician baffled everyone with clever card tricks.
Singing and laughter spread throughout the carriages, personal stories and celebrations were shared and new friendships made. The Northern Belle stopped somewhere beyond Skipton (it was on the Ribblehead Viaduct) but no one seemed concerned where as they watched a magnificent firework display from their carriage seats, organised just for them.
All too soon it was time for the Northern Belle to make the return journey to York but there was still more food to be served and wines to be poured. This was the chance too to meet and talk to Raymond Blanc about almost everything from his new book Kew on a Plate (many copies of which he signed) to the changing face of Leeds. ‘It’s so good to see so much development going on in Leeds,’ said Raymond whose own Brassiere Blanc bistro in the city has just reopened after a complete refurbishment.
The celebrated chef, who never seems to rest, disappeared into the next carriage, stopping to talk to everyone, posing for photographs, signing books. It didn’t seem long before the Belmond Northern Belle was back in York and guests reluctantly disembarked after what was a wonderful train travel experience but there was no sign of our host who may well have been finishing the working day back in the kitchen galley with his team.