Raymond Blanc has been announced as the latest signing at Arsenal Football Club.
The French chef will head up what is being heralded as the most luxurious food offering in football, a 110-seat restaurant at Arsenal's new 60,000-seat Emirates Stadium.
The stadium is scheduled to open at the start of the 2006-07 football season in August.
Only the 166 members of Arsenal's exclusive Diamond Club will be able to dine at the new restaurant. Costing £100,000 per head, membership provides two seats to every match at the stadium for three years, plus the use of its restaurant and bars.
Members will be able to eat from a complimentary menu, including house wines and Champagne, with an opportunity to upgrade to an à la carte menu and select extra wines for an additional charge. There are currently still 84 memberships available.
"It is wonderful to be involved in this very exciting, bold venture," said Blanc, who has been a devoted Arsenal supporter for 18 years. "Arsenal is creating a great stadium - one of the best in Europe - and they want the food to be part of the experience."
Blanc will have £19 per head to spend on ingredients for every meal served at the Diamond Club and he intends to use it to obtain high-quality, seasonal produce, buying organic where possible. "We will produce simple, light, delicious food," he said.
The chef said he intended to be present at the restaurant on as many match days as possible, but is currently selecting a member of his brigade from the two-Michelin-starred hotel and restaurant, Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons in Great Milton, Oxfordshire, to stand in for him when unavailable.
Blanc will be working as a consultant to Delaware North UK, which has a 20-year contract to run the entire catering offering at the Emirates Stadium.
By Janet Harmer
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