Sunday, 9 March 2014

5 Questions - Henri Le Worm, featuring Olivier Blanc

If someone had said to me just three years ago that I would be writing a blog and spreading the word on foodie based businesses, I would never have believed them. More so, who would have thought that my mobile phone would have become such an important tool in helping spread the word of what is now Gerry's Kitchen? Certainly not me - but I suppose that's just technology doing as technology does.
This next post comes on the back of me stumbling upon a story on Twitter that I felt needed to be shared. One night on my commute home from work, I noticed that world famous chef Raymond Blanc had shared a Tweet about something called 'Henri Le Worm'. Intrigued, I followed the thread and found myself reading about an animated, chefs hat wearing, French invertebrate, with a passion for cooking!
Henri Le Worm is a French cooking worm extraordinaire initially inspired by Raymond Blanc, mirroring his passion for healthy and seasonal produce. 
Henri Le Worm is the brainchild of Raymond Blanc's son, Olivier Blanc and with the help of actress Charlotte Salt, they have developed the app for the children of today and the foodies of tomorrow, it features specially created recipes by Raymond Blanc, interactive games, fun facts and music.
Henri Le Worm and his fantastic friends, a gang of bugs and insects, are brought to life by Simon Pegg and take children on a journey through the Forest of Plenty in the search of "The Missing Cookbook".
With over 61million Google searches for children and food, Henri Le Worm is in a perfect position to encourage children to explore the connection between food and nature, as well as highlighting the importance of good produce and sustainability.

Here's Olivier's story;
How did you get started?
I saw a satirical newspaper cartoon of a politician's head on the body of a worm and I liked the image. The character essentially came from my dad, Raymond Blanc, well his best bits, so passion for good food and nature, cheekiness, French flair and a hint of Inspector Clueso! My girlfriend at the time who is now the co-creator and my business partner, Charlotte Salt, drew sketches of the character concepts I had and Henri was born. We then very rapidly began to create a host of friends for Henri and to create the magical world they live in. I have a passion for food and children so the idea of creating a fantastic story that entertains whilst educating kids really excited me. It was Charlotte's idea to use tablets and apps as a way to showcase Henri and with the interactive aspect of the tablet and the fact that children are growing up in a digital age, made it the ideal platform. We then worked on characters and creating the first story app, with Charlotte doing the initial artwork and myself focusing on the script. We found some great developers in Milo, and we created a fantastic team from our illustrator Nick Stoney, through to Simon Pegg, who voices the characters and Raymond Blanc who supplies kid friendly recipes which are accessible from within the app.

What's the best bit of business advice?
There are a lot of people out there ready to take your money and not necessarily give value in return. I wish we had taken more time in certain areas to really shop around and compare services on offer. My one tip is that big name companies whether it be developers, PR or marketing doesn't necessarily mean best, find someone who really understands your project and can offer a service that works for you.

Where would you like to see your business in 5 years?
Ideally we would like to become a recognised and trusted brand like Peppa the Pig. The potential of Henri is enormous, but whatever happens we will always stay true to our core values and not sell out, famous last words I know!

If you could cook one of your own recipes, what would it be and why?
So much to choose from but I love simplicity, so perhaps grilled peaches with vanilla, it's a three step recipe, and like with most warmed fruit, the flavour and texture of the warm peach is heavenly! What is lovely is that you really get a flavour of the peach with just some subtle tones of vanilla, serve it with some crème fraiche. It's also great to show kids that deserts doesn't have to be cake or ice cream, that you can have some natural delicious food.

You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal – Who would it be and why? …and what’s on the menu?

Tough one again but I think that great conversation and lots of laughter are always welcome at my table so maybe Charlie Chaplin he was a fantastic performer and wrote one of my favourite songs "Smile" which he would perform after desert. So onto the food , to start with Essence of tomato, a really stunning yet clean starter with amazing flavour, followed by breasts of chicken poached in a creamy sherry and morel mushroom sauce and because it's fantasy to finish I would have a giant grand marnier soufflé.
Olivier kindly sent me a couple of codes so that me and my 8 year old niece Abby, could download the app and have a play about. The animation on the app is fantastic and the brightly coloured character are very engaging. Abby loved Henri Le Worm and enjoyed working her way through the puzzles and games, but perhaps more importantly, Abby keeps returning to the app when she gets a spare few minutes in the hope of helping reunite Henri Le Worm with his long lost Missing Cookbook. Abby is now looking forward to getting a little help in the kitchen from her Mum and trying out some of the way recipes.
The app is being rolled out across schools and actively being used as a teaching aid. With cooking being taught of the curriculum from September 2014 for Key Stages 1-3, (in England and Wales), now is the ideal time for parents to introduce Henri to their kids and give them a jump start in the kitchen! You can download Henri Le Worm from the Google Play Store for Android devices and from the Apple App Store for iPhone and iPads.
So with a world famous chef writing the recipes and a Hollywood actor providing the voices for Henri & his friends, it seems that Olivier and Charlotte have some of the finest ingredients available to help produce the next generation of budding chefs.
I would like to take this time to thank Olivier Blanc for taking the time out to answer '5 Questions', and for sending me the launch pack to help me get a bit of background on Henri Le Worm.
Keep up to date with Henri Le Worm on Twitter. Henri also has his own blog where he keeps his fans up to date. You can also keep up to date with Raymond Blanc on Twitter.


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