Heston Blumenthal: The Culinary Geek [Part 2]

In part one of this series I discussed some of Heston Blumenthal’s approaches to more common dishes. Today we’ll take a look at his more outlandish professional work.

Blumenthal made his name with his triple-Michelin star restaurant The Fat Duck, which has been voted the second best in the world (behind El Bulli in Spain.) To show how popular it is, the £150 (approx US$225) price tag has not deterred demand so strong that there is a two-month waiting list for a dinner reservation.

(I should make clear that I have not eaten at the Fat Duck and that I have no connection with the restaurant other than that I would kill to visit it.)

The main option is the tasting menu, which contains around 13-17 courses. So intricate are the dishes that the official cookbook of the restaurant runs to 400 pages. The main theme, if there is one, is playing with expectations and preconceptions of the diner. For example, one course is simply two squares of orange and beetroot jelly (Jello across the Atlantic). However, the one colored orange is beetroot-flavored (made from the lesser-known yellow beetroot), while the one colored purple is orange-flavored (made from blood orange).

Later in the meal, diners receive a glass of tea. What they don’t realize until they drink it is that one side is hot and the other cold: a sensation that remains true even as it slips down into the stomach. The explanation is that the cold side is in fact a fluid gel broken down into so many pieces that it appears to be an identical liquid to the hot tea.

(Picture credit: Flickr users nako)

Perhaps most famously, the series of desserts are presented in the style of breakfast, complete with boxes of cereal (the flakes are parsnips rather than corn) and the infamous bacon and egg ice-cream. It is in fact nothing more than scrambled egg which has been cooked through cold (namely liquid nitrogen) rather than heat.

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