Heston Blumenthal's Profile


Heston fell in love with cooking and the idea of becoming a chef from an early age, but it took him over a decade to realise his dream. By day he worked in a variety of jobs – photocopier salesman, debt collector, credit controller – but at night he worked his way through the classical repertoire of French cuisine, perfecting the techniques and seeking out the best ways to harness flavour.

Every summer he spent two weeks crisscrossing France, visiting restaurants, suppliers and wine estates, learning about gastronomy and banking flavour memories for the future. This formed Heston’s culinary apprenticeship. Apart from three weeks in a couple of professional kitchens, he is entirely self-taught.

After four years of reading, cooking and researching, however, he bought a book that made him look at cooking in a different way. The book was On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee. It encouraged Heston's natural curiosity, showing him the benefits of using a scientific approach to food.

In 1995 Heston bought a 450-year-old pub in Bray. Small, with an impossibly cramped kitchen, only one door, no view, an outside toilet and a reputation as the hotspot for every drinker banned from other pubs in the area, it was hardly the ideal choice for a restaurant, but it was all he could afford.

At this stage, there was no thought of Michelin stars. With its beams sandblasted and a U-shaped copper bar installed, The Fat Duck opened as a simple bistro serving French classics. With time, science and experimentation Heston’s cooking style moved beyond the bistro classics to multi-sensory eating.
After The Fat Duck received its first Michelin star the restaurant had to be redesigned to cope with increasing public demand. In 2000 the place was refurbished and re-opened with its first multi-course tasting menu.

The tasting menu offered the opportunity to present all kinds of dishes that didn’t fit easily into a conventional format. All of Heston’s ideas about multi-sensory perception, British gastronomy and scientific techniques, had an opportunity to shine. In two years, the new-found freedom to explore and create resulted in Heston's second Michelin star. And, two years after that, he received a third.