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Heston Blumenthal
Heston Blumenthal cooking demonstration in 2008.jpg
Born 27 May 1966 (1966-05-27) (age 43)
High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom
Education Self-taught
Official Website

Heston Marc[1] Blumenthal OBE (born 27 May 1966 in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire) is the chef and owner of The Fat Duck, a three-Michelin-starred restaurant in the village of Bray in Berkshire voted Best Restaurant in the UK by The Good Food Guide 2007 and 2009, and voted Best Restaurant in the World by fellow chefs in 2005. Since then he has been a perennial runner-up to Ferran Adrià of El Bulli in the world rankings. Blumenthal (pronounced /ˈbluːmənθɔːl/) is famous for his scientific approach and has been described as a culinary alchemist for his innovative style of cooking.

Contents

Biography

Heston Blumenthal attended the John Hampden Grammar School, High Wycombe and Latymer Upper School, London. Apart from a week's work experience in Raymond Blanc's kitchen and a short time in Marco Pierre White's, he is self-taught. According to an interview with The Observer in 2004, he has been cooking "seriously" since the mid-1990s. In that year he sold his share in The Fat Duck to colleague Garrey Dawson, having two years earlier invested in the nearby Riverside Brasserie with former Arsenal FC footballers Lee Dixon and Alfie Hitchcock.

Blumenthal has four books published: Family Food: A new approach to cooking in 2004, Heston Blumenthal: In Search of Perfection in 2006, Heston Blumenthal: Further Adventures In Search of Perfection in 2007 (in which he attempts to find the best way of preparing classic dishes, including fish and chips and Black Forest gateau) and The Big Fat Duck Cook Book in 2008 edited by Bloomsbury. His take on traditional British cuisine is served at the Hinds Head Hotel near the Fat Duck.

In 2005 he produced a series of six half-hour television programmes called Kitchen Chemistry with Heston Blumenthal which were transmitted on Discovery Science along with a book Kitchen Chemistry, published by the Royal Society of Chemistry and distributed to 6,000 schools in the UK and Ireland. He was ranked 3rd chef by caterersearch.com in that year[2].

This was followed by two BBC series called Heston Blumenthal: In Search of Perfection and Heston Blumenthal: Further Adventures In Search of Perfection. These series had higher production values, and followed Blumenthal's research and varied recreation of classic British cuisine. The first series had seven episodes and included bangers and mash, fish and chips and spaghetti Bolognese; the second ran to eight episodes, and featured chicken tikka masala, hamburgers and Peking duck.

Blumenthal signed a two-year deal with Channel 4 in March 2008, joining the channel's roster of celebrity chefs which already included Jamie Oliver, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Gordon Ramsay. In January 2009 a 3-part series of television programmes on Channel 4 covered his efforts to revamp the menu at a Little Chef motorway restaurant on the A303 road at Popham[3] in the hope that his recipe ideas would be introduced in all 193 outlets.[4] A follow-up programme was broadcast in October 2009. In March 2009 Blumenthal began a short series of programmes, called Heston's Feasts, showing Victorian, Medieval, Tudor, Christmas (including dormouse and venison) and Roman themed dinner banquets with various celebrities as guests.

Blumenthal is a devotee of neuro-linguistic programming.[5]

In the "Chili Con Carne" episode of the series In Search of Perfection he said that he was unable to participate in the MRI study of chili's effect on the brain as he had a metal plate inserted in his back after hurting it falling off a roof at the age of ten.[6]

Cooking methods

Blumenthal is a proponent of modern cooking; he opened his own research and development kitchen in early 2004.

One of his signature techniques is the use of a vacuum jar to increase expansion of bubbles during food preparation. This is used in such dishes as an aerated chocolate soufflé–like dessert. The reduction in air pressure inside the jar causes bubbles to grow to a larger size. He has experimented with amplification to enhance the sounds, such as the crunch, created while eating various foods.

Blumenthal is a proponent of low temperature, ultra–slow cooking, whereby a joint of meat is cooked for up to 24 hours so as to contain the fat content while preventing collagen molecules from re-forming within the meat. In his In Search of Perfection series, he cooks a Bresse chicken at 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit). Ultra-slow cooking does not melt the fat or release many juices, making the creation of gravy impossible, but Blumenthal says that gravy is unnecessary as the meat itself is sufficiently moist.

Blumenthal is also a proponent of the Sous-vide cooking technique. Sous-vide, which means "under vacuum" in French is a technique that entails cooking something that has been vacuum sealed in a plastic bag. The sealed bag is placed in a thermostatically controlled water bath and held at a relatively low temperature for long periods of time. In the case of Beef steak cooked using the Sous-vide method, the steak is held at around 60° Celsius or 140° Fahrenheit for a minimum of thirty minutes. The steak is then removed from the bag and is then seared in a very hot pan. Searing the outside of the steak not only improves the flavour and texture of the meat, it also kills the harmful bacteria on the outside of the steak that survives the water bath.

Blumenthal's signature dishes include snail porridge and parsnip cereal.[7]

Blumenthal and his Fat Duck restaurant have been credited as instigators of the bacon dessert "craze". He was preparing sweet and savory bacon-and-egg ice cream as early as 2004, and news "about the intriguingly odd confection quickly spread through the food world."[8]

Collaborations

Blumenthal has collaborated with scientists, including:

Cookbook

The Big Fat Duck Cookbook is a 532 page cookbook written mostly by Blumenthal. The book is divided in 3 parts. The first part contains an essay by Blumenthal recounting his history and that of The Fat Duck. The story is interspersed with semi-abstract illustrations by artist Dave McKean, relating to the story. The second part contains recipes, all of which were at one point on the menu at The Fat Duck, as well as a short story explaining the inspiration behind each dish. The third part is devoted to the science of cooking, with essays contributed by his collaborators.

2009 food scare

On 28 February 2009, Blumenthal closed The Fat Duck temporarily after a number of customers claimed to be unwell after having dined there.[10] Later reports put the number of affected customers at over 400.[11] The restaurant was eventually given the all-clear by the Thames Valley Health Protection Agency to reopen on Thursday 12 March 2009, two weeks after it was closed. However environmental health officers had still not discovered the cause for the diners' symptoms.[12] On 20 March it was announced that the cause was probably an outbreak of norovirus for which three staff and five customers have tested positive, an infection causing diarrhea and vomiting, passed through contact and food and most likely to affect people with type O blood.[13][14] The Fat Duck had received negative publicity regarding health standards before, when The Guardian reported in 2005, that during a food and safety test in 2004 "three out of the four samples were found to be unsatisfactory". In subsequent tests, however, all samples were found to be satisfactory.[15] Although a health report released in September 2009 found the cause of the outbreak to be due to contaminated oysters, poor staff hygiene and a delayed response in informing the authorities, health officials decided not to take legal action against Blumenthal.[16]

References

  1. ^ "Bristol University - Mr Heston Blumenthal". Bris.ac.uk. 2007-02-20. http://www.bris.ac.uk/cms/go/hon-degree/feb2007/blumenthal.html. Retrieved 2009-06-15.  
  2. ^ Heston Blumenthal, caterersearch.com, 12 May 2005, accessed 27 December 2009
  3. ^ "Heston Blumenthal's Little Chef: the menu". The Guardian. 28 November 2008. http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2008/nov/28/heston-blumenthal-little-chef-menu. Retrieved 2008-12-26.  
  4. ^ "Heston Blumenthal to transform Little Chef - Daily Telegraph News". http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2008/03/27/nchef127.xml. Retrieved 2008-03-27.  
  5. ^ "Like a kid in a sweet shop: the use of generative metaphor". http://www.cleanlanguage.co.uk/MikeDuckett-Sweetshop.html. Retrieved 2006-12-10.  
  6. ^ "Daily Mail: Heston Blumenthal I injected my head chef with a dangerous dose of chilli oil". http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/live/live.html?in_article_id=481790&in_page_id=1889.  
  7. ^ Simpson, Aislinn (1 Mar 2009). "Heston Blumenthal gets welcome boost amid Fat Duck food poisoning scare". The Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/4903519/Heston-Blumenthal-gets-welcome-boost-amid-Fat-Duck-food-poisoning-scare.html. Retrieved 2009-04-26.  
  8. ^ Susan Russo Bacon gets its just desserts December 1, 2009 NPR
  9. ^ "World's best chef and Oscar-winning director receive honorary degrees". http://www.reading.ac.uk/about/newsandevents/releases/PR3868.asp.  
  10. ^ "Fat Duck shuts after food scare". BBC News. 2009-02-28. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7916305.stm. Retrieved 2010-01-05.  
  11. ^ "Fat Duck sicknesses rise to 400". BBC News. 2009-03-06. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/berkshire/7927715.stm. Retrieved 2010-01-05.  
  12. ^ "'It's good to be back,' says Blumenthal as Fat Duck reopens". http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/mar/12/heston-blumenthal-fat-duck.  
  13. ^ "Winter vomiting bug hit Blumenthal (From Hampshire Chronicle)". Hampshire chronicle.co.uk. 2009-03-20. http://www.hampshirechronicle.co.uk/uk_national_news/4218532.Winter_vomiting_bug_hit_Blumenthal/. Retrieved 2009-06-15.  
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ "Day the Fat Duck failed to impress | UK news". The Guardian. 2005-05-02. http://www.guardian.co.uk/print/0,,5183966-103690,00.html. Retrieved 2009-06-15.  
  16. ^ Wardrop, Murray (October 26, 2009). "Fat Duck food poisoning: Heston Blumenthal will face no action". Telegraph.co.uk. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/6430858/Fat-Duck-food-poisoning-Heston-Blumenthal-will-face-no-action.html.  

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