There was a buzz of excitement in the air when Junior attended the launch party for Henri Le Worm at Raymond’s Blanc restaurant in Covent Garden today.
But while the balloon modelling demos, delicious breakfast pastries and cookery classes with the famous French chef had the young guests enthralled, they reserved their biggest enthusiasm for the star of the show – the app.
Launched on iTunes last week, Henri Le Worm is the first in what will be a seasonal series of apps developed by Raymond’s son, Oli, and actress Charlotte Salt, which combine good old-fashioned fun with strong educational features in an intelligent way.
A cast of comedic creepy crawlies engage young users from ages two to 10 with stories, music and games, while at the same time introducing them to seasonal garden produce, the insect world and serving up Raymond’s recipes to cook with mum and dad.
The much-loved chef was the inspiration for the main character, flamboyant worm Henri, displaying all of his Gallic charm and passion for good food. He was brought to life by actor Simon Pegg, who attended the party with his daughter, Tilly.
“I have a small child so I know this is something really important,” he told Junior. “These characters are so much fun and I love the format of the app. My daughter will be doing all the recipes.”
So how did the Hot Fuzz star feel about having to recreate Raymond’s famous accent? Were you worried he would be offended? “Well, I did my best cod French accent. I love Raymond, he is such a great guy. He is so enthusiastic, there is something about him that is fantastically infectious.”
Also part of the Henri team was nutritionist Amanda Ursell. She told guests at Brasserie Blanc: “There is so much wrong with our nutrition in the UK today. The level that you need to target is children. Get them away from fish fingers and onto something that is real. That is a lesson they will take for life.”
But what was the verdict of the intended audience?
Edward, 6, and Eleanor, 3, were both entranced by Henri Le Worm. Their mum, food writer Ren Behan, said, “It is very engaging. We have had a lot of apps where they play for a few minutes and have done it all. They both like cooking, especially my son, whereas my little girl absolutely loves technology. This keeps them both happy.”
The app was also big hit with Joseph, 4, who politely ignored the enthusiastic French balloon modeller to focus on Henri instead. “It’s so calming – look at the way he is quietly enjoying it,” said his mum, artist Emma Alcock. “There’s nothing sinister about the characters. I love the colour and the balance, it’s brilliant.”
Henri Le Worm is available from iTunes, priced at £2.99
Raymond Blanc and son Oli talk to Junior about their new app
Make Raymond Blanc's delicious chocolate mousse
Junior Design Awards 2013 app of the year