Let’s not avoid the real issue here, that dedicating an entire blog to just one chef is a little bit weird and obsessive. So: why?
Fizzing Fruit, that’s why.
This utterly nuts recipe was my introduction to the extraordinary world of Heston Blumenthal, in a segment for BBC 2’s Full On Food series. My girlfriend and I got together over a shared love of cooking (and Hong Kong gangster movies), Heston’s contributions to the programme made it one of our favourites to settle down in front of on her rare days off.
Up next were 20 hour roasts, hot and cold tea (and of course the ice cream and porridge dishes). Everything came across as insane and amazing in equal measure. Though it can’t have hurt that his laboratory kitchen, deliberately shaved head and chef’s whites made him look like a playful mad scientist, either.
Awestruck and desperate to experience his food myself, I looked up the Fat Duck online. Bray was a 4 hour drive from where I lived, the restaurant had a 2 month waiting list and the menu cost (at the time) £90 per head. A fair stretch when there’s bills to pay. Eating there became a vague ambition left for “one day”.
Until 2008, when my girlfriend took me to the Fat Duck for my birthday. It was, without question, the most incredible meal of my life & I wanted more.
But of course, you can’t have more. Well, I could, because I’d come home with the remaining ¾ of the birthday cake I got there. But really, you can’t. The Fat Duck is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience. It had a profound effect on me. and its fair to say I became pretty obsessed with the chef & his food (apparently it became a bit of a game to see often I’d bring up Heston’s name in conversation on any given day -6.4 on average, I’m told).
From that point on I’ve spent hours in the kitchen, honing my (quite poor) cooking skills. Part kitchen geek, part big-game hunter, it’s become my ambition cook all of Heston’s Perfection recipes, equivalents of the Fat Duck experience for the domestic kitchen (albeit a domestic kitchen equipped with soda siphons and makeshift vacuum chambers).
Heston’s food is an inspiration. And this blog is the perfect excuse for me to indulge that, as well as preserve memories of the exciting, exclusive and expensive meals I’ve had, and provide the perfect excuse for trying out loads of complicated recipes (cataloguing my mistakes, to help you avoid making the same ones). I can’t see myself doing any of the dishes from the Big Fat Duck Cookbook though. I’m still far too clumsy. Plus I doubt I’d improve upon the definitive and spectacular endeavours of Auldo’s The Big Fat Undertaking blog.
Heston Blumenthal has changed my approach to food for the better, and that of many other people too. And that is something worth celebrating and blogging about.
And, hey, no matter how obsessed you think I am, I haven’t started deliberately shaving my head to copy the Blumenthal-look yet. Unlike this guy lurking about in the background of the FDEK during a scene in Did Heston Change Little Chef. That really is dedication.