Last night Heston Blumenthal made a guest appearance on Australia’s MasterChef and surprised those up for elimination with a seemingly simple request: Make me a burger, shake and fries.
But then, nothing is ever simply simple with Heston.
We could only look on enviously as the MasterChef judges and contestants tasted Heston’s burger. Their oohhs and ahhs were a very real testament to the unusual genius of this man. If you have ever watched an episode of Heston’s Feasts you’ll know just how much thought and work goes into making his wonderful dishes.
If you’re an adventurous cook, if you’re bored with ordinary food and want to try something usually beyond the reach of mere mortals – then we suggest you take a look at these great titles by Heston Blumenthal.
Shock your family and friends with your (borrowed) brilliance…
IN SEARCH OF PERFECTION: Acclaimed restaurateur Heston Blumenthal reinvents kitchen classics, such as Fish and Chips, Bangers and Mash and Spag Bol, in his inimitable way.
Perfection is an eight-part prime-time BBC TV series hosted by Heston Blumenthal. The series focuses on eight classic dishes – Fish and Chips, Bangers and Mash, Spag Bol, Risotto, Roast Beef, Steak and Salad, Pizza and Treacle Tart and Ice Cream. Heston will look at the provenance of these dishes, how to source the best ingredients and what to look for, and of course, how to cook them to ‘perfection’.
This tie-in book of the same name contains all Heston’s recipes for the classic dishes and all his hints and tips on how to cook the very best ingredients, as well as fascinating information on the background to these dishes.
HESTON’S FANTASTICAL FEASTS:
The book of Heston Blumenthal’s hugely successful TV series Feast.
This is the book of Heston Blumenthal’s hugely successful television series Feast. Having already recreated the impossible ‘Drink Me’ potion from Alice in Wonderland and reinvented Henry VIII’s mythical ‘Cockentrice’, Heston is back for a second series of 6 incredible new feasts inspired by history, literature and legend.
Each chapter charts the realisation of a feast, with its challenges and ideas, culminating with the final recipes. This time, the feasts are based on themes which range from the whimsical to the phantasmagorical: Willy Wonka Feast; Fairytale Feast; Edwardian Feast; Gothic Feast; 1970’s Feast; and, Feast of the Future. Heston stretches all these themes to the limit of culinary possibility. Delving into the dark fairytales of the ‘Brothers Grimm’, he creates poison apples, transforming pumpkins and Edwardian gingerbread houses with sugar windows. Dr Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham would tempt even Sam, while Roald Dahl’s Lickable Wallpaper is an interior designer’s gastro dream. In the ‘Feast of the Future’, we are introduced to the Futurist Cookbook which advised 1930’s housewives that they should be dishing up ‘Italian breasts in the sunshine’, a recipe which Heston has resuscitated in all its scandalous glory.
Feast is a mind-boggling and mouth-watering foray into the realms of the imagination. With characteristic inventiveness and attention to detail, Heston creates glorious feasts the likes of which the rest of us can only dream (or read).
Heston’s Fantastical Feasts As Reviewed By Toni Whitmont, Booktopia Buzz Editor: Once upon a time there was a Chef called Heston who opened a small restaurant called the Fat Duck. At first, he served only simple French classics but gradually, as is the way of things, the Chef’s curiosity got the better of him and he began thinking up more unusual dishes, such as Snail Porridge and Chocolate Wine. There was even talk of a meringue that made diners snort plumes of vapour, like a dragon.
Word spread and reached the ears of the executives who ran a television channel, and they summoned the Chef to their glass fortress. “We command you to create six Fantastical Feasts,’ they said. “These must be based on history, but you may draw on fairytales and legends. We should warn you that the Quest will involve journeys to Transylvania in search of the legendary Leech Recipe of Sibiu, and to the Black Forest to eat the eyes of the Wild Boar of Münstertal. You must resist the temptations of the Burlesque Girls, and you must turn chocolate cake into a raging fireball and chicken’s testicles into jelly beans. There will be hunting for hallucinogenic mushrooms and cooking with Play-Doh. Out of this, you must create the most magical dishes imaginable.’
‘Oh, and once you have achieved the Quest, you must bring us proof, in the form of a Book. But not just any Book. We want tales of extravagant ingredients, of revolutionary techniques, of familiar kitchen appliances put to unfamiliar uses. We want to see what you see. Taste what you taste. In short, we want complete and unparalleled access to your fantastical world.’ I couldn’t get enough of this completely engrossing, over the top series. I can’t wait to re-live it all with the book. And no, I am not going to try and actually make that Alice in Wonderland Drink Me Potion.
THE BIG FAT DUCK COOKBOOK: In this enormous, beautiful book, we hear the full story of the meteoric rise of Heston Blumenthal and The Fat Duck, birthplace of snail porridge and bacon-and-egg ice cream, and encounter the passion, perfection and weird science behind the man and the restaurant.
Heston Blumenthal is widely acknowledged to be a genius, and The Fat Duck has twice been voted the Best Restaurant in the World by a peer group of top chefs. But he is entirely self-taught, and the story of his restaurant has broken every rule in the book. His success has been borne out of his pure obsession, endless invention and a childish curiosity into how things work – whether it’s how smell affects taste, what different flavours mean to us on a biological level, or how temperature is distributed in the centre of a soufflé.
In the first section of The Big Fat Duck Cookbook, we learn the history of the restaurant, from its humble beginnings to its third Michelin star (the day Heston received the news of this he had been wondering how exactly he would be able to pay his staff that month). Next we meet 50 of his signature recipes – sardine on toast sorbet, salmon poached with liquorice, hot and iced tea, chocolate wine – which, while challenging for anyone not equipped with ice baths, dehydrators, vacuum pumps and nitrogen on tap, will inspire home cooks and chefs alike. Finally, we hear from the experts whose scientific know-how has contributed to Heston’s topsy-turvy world, on subjects as diverse as synaesthesia, creaminess and flavour expectation.
With an introduction by Harold McGee, incredible colour photographs throughout, illustrations by Dave McKean, multiple ribbons, real cloth binding and a gorgeous slip case, The Big Fat Duck Cookbook is not only the nearest thing to an autobiography from the world’s most fascinating chef, but also a stunning, colourful and joyous work of art.
Of course I want to create food that is delicious, but this depends on so much more than simply what’s going on in the mouth-context, history, nostalgia, emotion, memory and the interplay of sight, smell, sound and taste all play an important part in our appreciation and enjoyment of food.
About the Author
Heston Blumenthal has been described as a culinary alchemist for his innovative style of cuisine. His work researches the molecular compounds of dishes so as to enable a greater understanding of taste and flavour. He is also fascinated by the memory, nostalgia and celebration surrounding food, something which he explores to the full in Perfection.
Entirely self-taught, Heston Blumenthal is the most progressive chef of his generation.
In 2004 he won the coveted three Michelin stars in near-record time for his restaurant The Fat Duck, which has twice been voted the Best Restaurant in the World by an international panel of 500 experts. In 2006 he was awarded an OBE. He lives in Berkshire with his wife and three children.
About the Contributor
While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. Now, as the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection.