Top chef Raymond Blanc believes Birmingham could emerge as the gastronomic capital of England over the next decade with the potential for as many as five Michelin-starred restaurants.

The city was about to "take its destiny in its own hands" and might eventually rival Lyon - known as the belly of France - as a place famed for exceptional food, he said.

Blanc said Birmingham, as the second largest city outside of London, had a huge future and he expected the quality end of the restaurant sector to grow very quickly.

A unique selling point would be Birmingham's position on the dividing line between the north and the south of England, he believed.

He was speaking at Brasserie Blanc in Brindleyplace, the restaurant he opened 10 years ago, at a reception to mark the launch of the bmibaby lunch club - a venture designed to cash in on Birmingham's reputation as a lunchtime networking city for the business sector.

Shrugging off the latest edition of the Good Food Guide, which features Simpsons in Edgbaston as the only Birmingham restaurant in the country's top 40, Blanc said he was certain the city's culinary fortunes were about to change.

Blanc, who is currently fronting The Restaurant on BBC 2, has trained 22 Michelin-starred chefs. He said: "London claims to be a city of gastronomy, but there are more Michelin-starred restaurants outside of London than there are inside. That is a very interesting and important fact.

"OK, there is only one Michelin-starred restaurant in Birmingham, but I would love to bring one of my proteges here. I am thinking very seriously about it.

"The layers of excellence in Birmingham are many and we have all the micro-infrastructures in place. There has been high investment which has brought confidence and generated new life in the city.

"I think Birmingham will get another Michelin-starred restaurant soon. Then there will be three and then five. All these things are possible."

Simpsons is the only Birmingham restaurant to hold a Michelin star. Blanc said it was possible that Purnells, recently opened in Cornwall Street, could attain a star rating soon.

He believed Britain had undergone a food revolution since he arrived as a young chef in 1972 - when strikes and the three-day week almost brought the country to its knees.

"When I came here, England was in the abyss. The three-day week, all of England's great brands were under pressure. There was a food chain which was heartless. Food became a commodity and being cheap was almost a virtue. Now we know the consequences in terms of the environment.

"We are re-connecting with food. Gastronomy is reconnecting with its soul and we are getting a more ethical and better food chain," Blanc added.

Asked about his recipe for a successful restaurant, Blanc said: "All of the factors are the same, whether you are running a coffee bar or a top class restaurant. You have to create a great team around you, a manager and a chef who can work together, and remember the human element is at the heart of success. This applies at the front of house or at the back of house.

"In my business people are at the heart of our success. It is a people industry. To me, a restaurant should be part of the culture of a city as much as a museum or a bank. A place where people come to celebrate a special moment in their lives or for a quick business lunch.

"Of course, you have to make a profit because if you do not make a profit you have no business."

Dave Hodgson, marketing director at Marketing Birmingham, which is helping to promote the bmibaby lunch club, said Birmingham was increasingly being recognised as a "culinary force to be reckoned with".