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Top 100: Heston Blumenthal, The Fat Duck

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Written by:
Top 100: Heston Blumenthal, The Fat Duck

Overall ranking: 9 (9 in 2012)
Chef ranking: 3 (2 in 2012)

Heston Blumenthal is a self-taught chef, restaurateur, author and broadcaster whose multi­sensory cuisine and appliance of science to the art of cooking – called “molecular gastronomy” by some, “kitchen science” by Blumenthal – has propelled him to international stardom. Born in High Wycombe in 1966, he has five restaurants in the UK, including his flagship, three-Michelin-starred Fat Duck in Bray, which he opened in 1995. In 2004 he took over neighbouring village pub the Hinds Head, which holds a Michelin star, and in 2010 acquired a second Bray pub, the Crown. In 2011, he opened Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park with Ashley Palmer-Watts. Here, the chefs continued the research of historic British dishes and Dinner was awarded one Michelin star in 2012 and a second two years later. In 2014, Blumenthal opened the Perfectionists’ Café at London Heathrow Terminal 2. He develops dishes for all five restaurants at two kitchens in Bray. In 2015, Blumenthal relocated the Fat Duck to Melbourne while his flagship site underwent refurbishment. When the Bray site reopened, the pop-up Crown Melbourne hotel site became a permanent Dinner by Heston Blumenthal.

What we think

It was the constraints of the cramped kitchens at the Fat Duck in Bray that brought Blumenthal into contact with a fascinating network of scientists and academics who have played a part in developing his approach to cooking.

Dishes such as snail porridge and nitrogen-cooked green tea and lime sour soon attracted accolades and the Fat Duck gained its first Michelin star in 1998, a second in 2001 and a third in 2004. It has held five AA rosettes since 2001 and was ranked fifth in the Good Food Guide 2018’s Top 50, with Dinner in 13th.

Following its £2.5m refurbishment, the Fat Duck in Bray was relaunched in 2016 under head chef Jonny Lake. Lake left the Fat Duck in March this year to pursue “personal projects”. With no à la carte menu, Blumenthal has created a concept that is not “a restaurant any more”, and guests are handed a “map” rather than a menu before their £255 culinary journey begins.

Blumenthal’s TV programmes have gained him a cult following. His makeover of the menu at Little Chef in 2008 for a Channel 4 documentary led to a first for a roadside restaurant chain – an appearance in the Good Food Guide. The TV programmes Heston Blumenthal: In Search of Perfection and Feast both received BAFTA nominations. Other projects include collaborating on food products with Waitrose since 2010, and kitchen gadgets for Sage, as well as writing eight books.

Blumenthal has won numerous accoalades, including an OBE in 2006. Culinary gongs include the Restaurateur of the Year – Independent Catey in 2002, the 2004 Chef Catey, the Good Food Guide Chef of the Year 2001, and AA’s Chef’s Chef of the Year 2002. In 2017, he won the Diners Club Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 2006, he was presented with an honorary degree by Reading University in recognition of his scientific approach to food and long-standing relationship with the university’s School of Food Biosciences, and was made an honorary fellow by the Royal Society of Chemistry. He received an honorary master’s from Bristol University in 2007, and an honorary degree from the University of London in 2013 in recognition of his pioneering research and achievements.

The awards speak for themselves. Not only has Blumenthal succeeded in carving out a high-profile media career without sacrificing his culinary or restaurateur’s standards, he never stops pushing culinary boundaries.

Further information
Heston Blumenthal on the new experience at the reopened Fat Duck >>

Executive chef Jonny Lake to leave the Fat Duck >>

Michelin names 18 new one-star restaurants as Fat Duck regains its three-star status >>

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