Wednesday, 18 March 2009

as mad as a bag of frogs...heroes part 3

Well, here we are in another posting in the little series I like to call Heroes - people who inspire me and make my brain get all tingly and excited.

So, who do we have today?

This gentleman has gained the reputation of being a bit of a wild card in the cookery world - seemingly mad concoctions of food linked with the most extraordinary theatre and performance.

My next hero is...Heston Blumenthal.

Now, anyone who has been awarded the coveted title of 'the best restaurant in the world' must be pretty good. Sling in three Michelin stars and you have got a pretty sound guarantee that the food will be up to scratch.

But what I adore about Heston is the way his brain seems to work in ways that other chefs brains do not. For some, food is about food, for Heston the meal is an experience - taste, sight, smell, and sometimes sound. We are often told that we eat first with our eyes, and true enough, you can go to many fine restaurants across the land and sample some beautiful looking plates of grub.

But what about the rest of the senses? In one dish at The Fat Duck you are given a seashell containing a recording of the sea to listen to as you tuck into your wave like foam and sand like crumbs. It is this sense of delight and surprise that takes the eating experience to another level.

Unfortunately I have not had the eating experience for myself yet, but the whole concept of his 'performance food' appeals to me as a designer. Can I get this element of delight into my own designs? How can I lift a space from the nice to the extraordinary?

In some of his recent 'Heston's Feasts' he has lifted this performance and delight to new levels. My particular favourite was the 'Mock Turtle soup' course in the Victorian Feast episode.

Based on both a real recipe and the book 'Alice in Wonderland', Heston created a super concentrated beef stock that was set into life size pocket watch moulds with a tea bag string dunker. These were then coated in edible gold leaf and served sitting in a bone china tea cup. Diners then poured boiling water into the teacups and dunked the watches a-la-Mad Hatter Style until they had dissolved to form the soup, which was then poured into an awaiting bowl filled with illusionary mock turtle eggs and accompanying vegetables.

And don't get me started on the magic that was the 'drink me drink'

Food as theatre - meals as performance and not just sustenance. Fun and delight. Heston is a true genius of the experience of eating.

If I can get even a glimpse of this delight into my own designs I will be happy...


  1. Did you see him do the Little Chef thing? How he kept his calm was entirely beyond me. How can you resist a man with such a passion. Love him. Great post!

  2. Yep - Big chef does Little Chef - excellent watching, although I did find myself screaming at the TV on his behalf. He should bottle the essence of this calm and sell it. (I'm sure he had a little rant off camera though...!)

    And he doesn't seem to swear much, which is another refreshing change to some other (still brilliant) TV chefs...