Heston Blumenthal

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Heston Blumenthal
Heston Blumenthal, London, June 2010
Born(1966-05-27) 27 May 1966 (age 47)
London, England, United Kingdom
EducationJohn Hampden Grammar School
Official website
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Heston Blumenthal
Heston Blumenthal, London, June 2010
Born(1966-05-27) 27 May 1966 (age 47)
London, England, United Kingdom
EducationJohn Hampden Grammar School
Official website

Heston Marc Blumenthal, OBE (/ˈblmənθɔːl/;[1] born 27 May 1966) is an English celebrity chef and owner of The Fat Duck, a three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Bray, Berkshire, which has been voted Best Restaurant in the UK and received a perfect score of 10/10 every year since 2007 by The Good Food Guide. He has also written many cookery books as well as doing televised cookery programs.


Born in London and raised in Buckinghamshire,[2] Heston Blumenthal attended the Latymer Upper School in London [3] and St Johns C of E school in Lacey Green, Buckinghamshire.[4] Blumenthal completed his studies at John Hampden Grammar School, High Wycombe.[5] His surname comes from a great-grandfather from Latvia.[6]

Blumenthal was self-taught. His first paid job as a chef was when he opened his own restaurant, The Fat Duck. Prior to this, he says his only experience was "three weeks in a couple of professional kitchens",[7] including a one week long work experience in Raymond Blanc's kitchen at Le Manoir, where he worked alongside, but was not taught by, Marco Pierre White.[8][9]


The Fat Duck was Blumenthal’s first restaurant which he opened in 1995 in Bray, Berkshire. It won many awards and has consistently been rated as one of the top restaurants in the world. Blumenthal was a proponent of multi-sensory dining, which was evident in many of his dishes at The Fat Duck. In 2004, The Fat Duck was awarded its third Michelin star.[9]

The Hinds Head, also in Bray, is located a short distance from The Fat Duck. Blumenthal acquired the Hinds Head in 2004. It is located in a 15th-century former tavern and serves traditional seasonal cuisine and historic British dishes. It has received many awards for its food. In 2011, it was named the Michelin Pub Guide’s "Pub of the Year".[citation needed]

The Crown at Bray was Blumenthal’s version of a British village pub. Blumenthal bought it in June 2010. It is located in a 16th-century former inn and serves traditional pub food.[citation needed]

In January 2011 Blumenthal opened his first restaurant outside of Bray, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in London. The Times food critic, Giles Coren, called it the best restaurant in the world. Blumenthal and his team worked with historians to help to develop the restaurant’s dishes which are inspired by historic British recipes. It was voted the 7th best restaurant in the world of 2013. It received a second Michelin Star in the 2014 Michelin Guide.[10]

In 2013 Blumenthal announced he would launch a new restaurant in London Heathrow Terminal 2 (T2) which opens in June 2014.[citation needed]

Television shows[edit]

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 six thousand schools in the UK and Ireland. To date, it is the most successful book ever produced by the Society. He was ranked third chef by caterersearch.com in the same year.[11]

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 were followed by Blumenthal's research and varied re-creation of classics of British cuisine and World Cuisine. The first series had seven episodes and included bangers and mash - sausages and mashed potatoes, fish and chips and spaghetti Bolognese; the second ran to eight episodes, and featured chicken tikka masala, hamburgers and Peking duck. 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 by falling off a roof at the age of ten.[12] In the Christmas special of the second series of In Search of Perfection, Blumenthal milked a reindeer in Siberia to make ice cream and harvested Frankincense in Oman.[13]

Blumenthal signed a two-year deal with Channel 4 in March 2008, joining the channel's clan of celebrity chefs which already included Jamie Oliver, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Gordon Ramsay. In January 2009 a three-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[14] in the hope that his recipe ideas would be introduced in all 193 outlets.[15] A follow-up programme was broadcast in October 2009. Following Blumenthal's restructure of the menu, Popham's Little Chef earned an entry in the Good Food Guide. The Little Chef group extended Blumenthal's menu to 12 branches but, in 2013, removed his dishes from all restaurants. A spokesman for Little Chef said, "The problem is that no one wants his food. None of his dishes are popular. As of Monday, we’ve dropped all his dishes from the ten restaurants where his food was available."[16]

In March 2009 Blumenthal began a short series of hour long programmes, called Heston's Feasts, showing Victorian (Alice in Wonderland-inspired), Medieval, Tudor, Christmas (including dormouse and venison) and Roman themed dinner banquets with various celebrities as guests. A second series of this was commissioned and began a few days after Easter 2010. In this series he created, among others, a Charlie and The Chocolate Factory-style feast,[17] a Fairytale feast and an Edwardian style feast was based on the last meal eaten on the Titanic.

From 22 February 2011, Channel 4 began airing Heston's new show, titled Heston's Mission Impossible, in which Heston targets lacklustre food served in various industries and aims to upgrade the food to meals that people enjoy to eat. These included Alder Hey Children's Hospital, Cineworld, British Airways and The Royal Navy (aboard the HMS Turbulent).[18]

Blumenthal has appeared on seven episodes of Masterchef Australia, in series 2 and in series 3 called (Pressure Test 4)—Craig, Michael, Shannon and Rachel faced a Heston Blumenthal creation: a seemingly simple burger with chips and a milkshake. "[Masterchef Australia]" had a week called "Heston Week" in 2013, in which Heston appeared in every episode. He also appeared as a guest judge for series 5's Heston Week where the contestants were challenged to produce dishes in Blumenthal's style.

In January 2012, How To Cook Like Heston, aired on Channel 4. The programme was aimed at home cooks and featured some of the more approachable techniques employed by Blumenthal.

In November 2012, Blumenthal fronted a television program for Channel 4 entitled Heston's Fantastical Food, in which he created enormous versions of everyday foodstuffs, such as a biscuit, a pot of tea, a sandwich and a can of fizzy drink.

Cooking methods[edit]

Blumenthal is a proponent of modern cooking; he opened his own research and development kitchen in early 2004. It could be said that he is a molecular gastronomist, though he disliked the term, believing it made the practice sound "complicated" and "elitist."[19] He holds multiple honorary degrees in recognition of his scientific approach to cooking.[20][21]

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 it can 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 °C (140 °F) 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 improves the flavour and texture of the meat.

Multi-sensory cooking[edit]

Heston’s cooking is famously a multi-sensory experience.[22] He is at the forefront of the multi-sensory dining experience.[22] He first became interested in multi-sensory cooking when he was 16 and his parents took him to a two Michelin starred L’Oustau in Provence.[22]

Of multi-sensory cooking, Blumenthal says, "Development is where my heart is focused because eating is the only thing that we do that involves all the senses. We eat with our eyes and our ears and our noses. You think about some of the most memorable meals you've ever had; the food will be good but it will often be about locating a mental memory and taste is inexorably linked to all the other senses and memory, so ultimately it is all about taste."[22]

"It still surprises me that more people are not focusing on this area because it's so obvious - eating is a complete sensory experience. It's the only thing we do that engages all of our senses. What I try to do is play with this idea to extend and deepen one's interaction with food."[23]

Blumenthal is working with Oxford University psychologist Charles Spence on studying the relationship between our enjoyment of food and our senses.[24] Prof Spence is currently working with Blumenthal's team to inspire a dish featuring bitter and sweet flavours, with a matching soundtrack. The research invites participants to match bitter and sweet flavours with musical instruments and different pitches. The Fat Duck has produced a dish based on the research, but it has not yet reached the table.[23]

Signature dishes[edit]

Blumenthal's signature dishes include snail porridge, bacon and egg ice cream and parsnip cereal, mock turtle soup (which combines a multi-sensory experience with historical references), Meat Fruit, and his Sweet Shop petit fours.[25]

He has pioneered the use of sound as part of the dining experience with his Sound of the Sea dish where diners listen to a recording of the seaside – crashing waves with occasional sounds of distant seagulls, children's laughter and the horn of a ship, while they eat a dish of king fish, konbu cured halibut, ballotine of mackerel with 5 different seaweeds, sea jelly beans and monks beard served on "sand" made from tapioca starch, toasted Japanese breadcrumbs, miso paste and dried seaweeds.[26]

Blumenthal is also known for his use of scented dry ice.[citation needed] Blumenthal and his restaurant "The Fat Duck" have been credited as instigators of the bacon dessert "craze". He was preparing sweet and savoury bacon-and-egg ice cream as early as 2004, and news "about the intriguingly odd confection quickly spread through the food world."[27]

Historic influences[edit]

Blumenthal is known for using British history in his dishes, television work, and books. He first became interested in British culinary history in 2000 when he was writing his first book "Family Food". The first dish he created based on a historic recipe was Quaking Pudding, which is on the menu at the Hinds Head.

British culinary history formed the basis for Blumenthal’s Feast Series. One of Blumenthal’s signature dishes at his restaurant, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, is Meat Fruit which he first developed for the Feast Medieval episode. Blumenthal said in the programme," When I first started looking at historic recipes, particularly recipes from medieval times, there was one dish that really attracted my attention, just because it was completely mad: Meat fruit. Literally, you took some meat and turned it into fruit. People in the Middle Ages believed fruit and vegetable were considered to have diseases unless cooked. With a typically wicked sense of humour, medieval chefs played on this fear by forming and painting meat to make it look like raw fruit. The idea being to shock and delight their diners."

Blumenthal has worked extensively with historian Ivan Day and then those at Hampton Court Palace to research British culinary history. Blumenthal is writing and researching a book based entirely on historic recipes.


Blumenthal has collaborated with scientists, including:

Blumenthal is also a mentor for the British Airways Great Britons Programme,[29] and mentored an up-and-coming chef to produce a dish served on board flights in the run up to the London 2012 Games.

He was selected to provide the picnic meal for participants in Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.[30] In recognition, he was a guest in the Royal Box at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concert in June 2012.[31]

In 2012, Blumenthal signed up with supermarket chain Waitrose to assist with advertising and launched a number of products for sale in-store, including a ready-meal range.[32] In 2013, he did the same with the Australian chain Coles Supermarket.[citation needed]

Honorary degrees and recognition[edit]

Blumenthal holds multiple honorary degrees in recognition of his scientific approach to cooking. In January 2006, he was awarded an OBE by Her Majesty The Queen in the New Years Honours List for his services to British Gastronomy.[33]

In July 2006, Blumenthal was presented with an honorary Doctor of Science degree by Reading University in recognition of his unique scientific approach to food and long-standing relationship with the University’s School of Food Biosciences.[34] Also in July 2006, Blumenthal was the first chef to be awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the Royal Society of Chemistry.[35] Blumenthal received an honorary Master of Science from Bristol University in 2007.[36]

In December 2013, Blumenthal was presented with an honorary Doctor of Science degree by the University of London, the honour recognises his pioneering research and achievements in his field.[37]

Coat of arms[edit]

In June 2013, the College of Arms granted Blumenthal a personal coat of arms.[38] The blazon is:

Arms: Sable issuant in pall three dexter cubit Arms vested Or each charged with a Rose Gules and cuffed Argent the hands appaumy proper between in chief an Apple slipped and leaved and in base two Lyres Or. Crest: A Duck wings elevated and addorsed Or holding in the dexter foot a Magnifying-glass proper the frame and handle Gules and in the beak three Stems of Lavender flowered proper tied Gules. Badge: A Duck's Leg erased à la quise Or.

The design of the arms and crest represents the five senses, which Blumenthal considers should all contribute to the enjoyment of food. The hands stand for touch, the apple for taste, the lyre for hearing, the lavender for smell, and the magnifying glass for sight and scientific examination. The duck in the Crest and the duck's foot in the Badge allude to Heston Blumenthal's restaurant The Fat Duck and the three roses recall its three Michelin stars.

Personal awards[edit]

Television and book awards[edit]

Restaurant awards[edit]

The Fat Duck

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal


As well as writing books, Blumenthal has written columns for The Guardian, T2, The Times and GQ. Along with scientists on the faculty of Reading University, he had co-written an academic paper on the taste and flavour of tomatoes called "Differences in Glutamic Acid and 5'-Ribonucleotide Contents between Flesh and Pulp of Tomatoes and the Relationship with Umami Taste" [41]


  1. ^ "Heston Blumenthal's In Search of Perfection". 
  2. ^ "Bristol University | Public and Ceremonial Events Office | Heston Marc Blumenthal". Bristol.ac.uk. Retrieved 2013-05-20. 
  3. ^ Tibbetts, Graham (2008-10-24). "Harry Potter star Alan Rickman funds school bursary". Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-05-20. 
  4. ^ http://www.stjohn-bucks.co.uk
  5. ^ Interview by Hester Lacey (2011-07-15). "The Inventory: Heston Blumenthal". FT.com. Retrieved 2013-05-20. 
  6. ^ Brian Viner (5 February 2011). "Heston Blumenthal: The alchemist". The Independent. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  7. ^ http://www.thefatduck.co.uk/Heston-Blumenthal/Biography/
  8. ^ http://eater.com/archives/2012/12/01/heston-blumenthal-rejects-the-claim-he-trained-under-marco-pierre-white.php
  9. ^ a b Jay Rayner. "The man who mistook his kitchen for a lab | Life and style | The Observer". Guardian. Retrieved 2013-05-20. 
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  11. ^ Heston Blumenthal, caterersearch.com, 12 May 2005, Retrieved 27 December 2009
  12. ^ "Heston Blumenthal I injected my head chef with a dangerous dose of chilli oil". Daily Mail (London). 23 September 2007. 
  13. ^ "Last nights TV:Heston Blumenthal". 
  14. ^ Smillie, Susan (28 November 2008). "Heston Blumenthal's Little Chef: the menu". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 26 December 2008. 
  15. ^ Cockcroft, Lucy (27 March 2008). "Heston Blumenthal to transform Little Chef". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 27 March 2008. 
  16. ^ Food and Drink. "Little Chef drops Heston Blumenthal from menu". Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-11-28. 
  17. ^ "Heston's Willy Wonka Feast". Tv.sky.com. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  18. ^ "About Heston's Mission Impossible – Channel4 – 4Food". Channel4. 9 February 2011. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  19. ^ "'Molecular gastronomy is dead.' Heston speaks out". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 4 May 2010. 
  20. ^ "Bristol University, Public and Ceremonial Events Office, Heston Marc Blumenthal". Bristol.ac.uk. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  21. ^ "World's best chef and Oscar-winning director receive honorary degrees". Reading.ac.uk. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
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  23. ^ a b Wickes, Nici (18 April 2012). "Heston Blumenthal: The Mad Chef". NZ Herald (Auckland). Retrieved 12 July 2012. 
  24. ^ "Music influences our tastebuds". NZ Herald (Auckland,). 27 April 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2012. 
  25. ^ Simpson, Aislinn (1 Mar 2009). "Heston Blumenthal gets welcome boost amid Fat Duck food poisoning scare". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 26 April 2009. 
  26. ^ Anon. "Seafood served with an ipod:Heston’s latest recipe", The Daily Mail, London, 16 April 2007. Retrieved on 9 July 2012.
  27. ^ Susan Russo Bacon gets its just desserts 1 December 2009 NPR
  28. ^ "World's best chef and Oscar-winning director receive honorary degrees". 
  29. ^ "British Airways Great Britons Programme". Ba.com. Retrieved 2013-05-20. 
  30. ^ Murphy, Victoria (31 May 2012). "Picnic at the palace: Heston Blumenthal rustles up a Diamond Jubilee feast". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 2013-05-20. 
  31. ^ Preece, Rob (5 June 2012). "The princes, princesses, knights of the realm (and a cook): So who WAS who in the Royal Box at the Diamond Jubilee Concert?". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2013-05-20. 
  32. ^ Ramsden, James (12 October 2012). "Heston's new ready meals: hit or miss?". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-05-20. 
  33. ^ "Queen serves up reward for chefs", "BBC News", London, 31 December 2005. Retrieved on 5 December 2012.
  34. ^ "Heston Blumenthal to open the University's new Innovation Lab", "University of Reading", Reading, 25 October 2005. Retrieved on 5 December 2012.
  35. ^ "Royal Society of Chemistry honours leading chef", "Royal Society of Chemistry", London, 26 July 2006. Retrieved on 5 December 2012.
  36. ^ "Bristol University: Public and Ceremonial Events Office - Heston Marc Blumenthal", "University of Bristol", Bristol, 20 February 2007. Retrieved on 5 December 2012.
  37. ^ http://www.sas.ac.uk/about-us/news/heston-blumenthal-be-awarded-honorary-doctorate-school-s-2013-graduation-ceremony
  38. ^ "September 2013 Newsletter (No. 36)", "College of Arms", London, 2013. Retrieved on 11 October 2013.
  39. ^ "BMW Square Meal Award for Best New Restaurant - Spring 2011". squaremeal.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-23. 
  40. ^ http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/historic-heston-9781408804414/
  41. ^ "Umami Information Center". Umamiinfo.com. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 

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