Overall ranking: 8 (9)
Chef ranking: 3 (3)
Heston Blumenthal – Snapshot
Heston Blumenthal is one of just three British chefs to win three Michelin stars. His reputation rests upon an innovative cuisine that combines classical French styles with a highly scientific approach to techniques and flavours known as molecular gastronomy.
Heston Blumenthal – Career guide
The self-taught chef who was born at High Wycombe in 1966, opened his Fat Duck restaurant in the Berkshire village of Bray in 1995. In 2002 he became a partner in the nearby Riverside Brasserie with former Arsenal footballer Lee Dixon and Alfie Hitchcock. Two years later, Heston Blumenthal sold his stake to Fat Duck colleague Garrey Dawson to focus on his Michelin-starred eaterie and his nearby pub and hotel, the Hind’s Head, which specialises in reviving classic British dishes.
Heston Blumenthal – What we think
Heston Blumenthal has been described as a “culinary alchemist” and his fascination with molecular gastronomy (or kitchen science, as he prefers to call it) has made him one of the most unconventional and revolutionary of chefs. His cutting-edge yet palatable flavour combinations include snail porridge, bacon-and-egg ice-cream, white chocolate and caviar buttons, nitrogen-cooked green tea and lime sour, and cuttlefish cannelloni of duck.
Born in London in 1966, Blumenthal discovered a passion for food whilst on a family holiday to France. He spent the next decade learning about food from books and from visits to France while working as a credit controller. In 1995 he took the plunge and opened the Fat Duck with no backing from investors, working up to 110 hours a week to get the business off the ground.
The Fat Duck gained its first Michelin star just four years later in 1998, its second in 2001 and its third in 2004. It has held five AA rosettes since 2001, scored 9/10 in the Good Food Guide in 2003 and, in 2005, was awarded the top score of 19/20 in the first round-up of London restaurants by French guide Gault Millau.
Blumenthal’s many awards include Catey Chef of the Year 2004, Catey Independent Restaurateur of the Year 2002, AA Guide Chef’s Chef of the Year 2002, AA Restaurant of the Year 2001 and Good Food Guide Chef of the Year 2001.
He is as likely to hobnob with scientists and psychologists as with fellow chefs. The former includes food science guru Harold McGee, whose book On Food and Cooking: The science and lore of the kitchen was pivotal in leading Blumenthal down the molecular path.
2005 saw Blumenthal intensify his research programme when he sponsored a pioneering three-year PhD course on creative gastronomy run by the University of Nottingham. Science graduate Rachel Edwards-Stuart’s research – which includes novel flavour release mechanisms using nanotechnology – has been feeding into the Fat Duck’s cuisine since January 2005 and Blumenthal completed his long-desired lab (across the road from the Fat Duck and Hind’s Head) in November.
2006 bought Blumenthal an OBE for services to the hospitality industry along with an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Reading University and an honorary fellowship of the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Blumenthal also finds time to contribute a column to the Sunday Times on a regular basis (following a stint with the Guardian). His latest book – In Search of Perfection – is published in October 2006.
The Independent’s 2006 list of Britain’s richest chefs put Blumenthal in 10th position with a £2m fortune.
Blumenthal was named honorary vice-chairman for Hospitality Action’s Ark Foundation, which addresses the widespread alcohol and drug problems in industry, in 2004.
Heston Blumenthal official websites
Heston Blumenthal on the web