Overall ranking: 4 (ranked 3 in 2011)
Chef ranking: 2 (ranked 2 in 2011)
Heston Blumenthal is a chef, restaurateur, author and broadcaster whose multi-sensory cuisine and appliance of science to the art of cooking - termed "molecular gastronomy" by some, "kitchen science" by Blumenthal - has propelled him to international stardom way beyond his own culinary world. He has four restaurants including his flagship three-Michelin starred Fat Duck in Bray and two one-Michelin starred restaurants - Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park hotel in London; and the Hind's Head, also in Bray (which has just been awarded in the 2013 Michelin Guide to Great Britain and Ireland). He develops dishes for all four restaurants at two research kitchens in Bray.
Heston Blumenthal - Career guide
The self-taught chef, who was born in High Wycombe in 1966, opened his Fat Duck restaurant in Bray in 1995.
From 2002 until 2004 he was a partner in the nearby Riverside Brasserie with Alfie Hitchcock and former Arsenal footballer Lee Dixon, before acquiring Bray pub the Hind's Head which specialises in reviving classic British dishes. In 2010 he acquired another Bray pub, The Crown, before making his debut in London in January 2011 by opening Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park: here he and head chef Ashley Palmer-Watts continued, to great critical and commercial acclaim, the research and revival of historic British dishes begun at the Hind's Head.
Heston Blumenthal - What we think
When Blumenthal first bought the pub that was to become the Fat Duck, Michelin stars were the last thing on his mind. Small, with an impossibly cramped kitchen, garden sheds for storage, no view, an outside toilet and a reputation as a magnet 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.
Trying to find ways round the problems created by the working conditions brought Blumenthal into contact with a physicist at Bristol University, Dr Peter Barham, who introduced him to Professor Tony Blake, and the two became the first members of a loose network of scientists and academics that have played a vital part in the restaurant's development.
His scientific approach to cooking - with famous dishes like nitrogen-cooked green tea and lime sour - soon attracted attention and accolades for the Fat Duck ; it gained its first Michelin star in 1998, its second in 2001 and its third in 2004. It has held five AA rosettes since 2001, and scored 10/10 in the Good Food every year since 2007 and in the latter's 2013 guide it was voted the top UK restaurant, while its sibling, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal came in at 19th place.
Blumenthal has won many awards himself over the past 18 years. He's been honoured by organisations like the Royal Television Society, the Guild of Food Writers and the USA's prestigious James Beard Foundation. His culinary gongs include the Chef of the Year Catey in 2004, the Independent Restaurateur of the Year Catey in 2002, the AA Guide Chef's Chef of the Year 2002, the Good Food Guide Chef of the Year 2001. He was appointed OBE for his services to hospitality in 2006.
When Blumenthal opened Dinner in January 2011, his reputation was such that the restaurant was one of the most eagerly anticipated openings in recent memory. It lived up to the hype, with rave reviews by critics and high placings in guide books, quickly earning a coveted Michelin star. And despite the setback of a well-publicised outbreak of Norovirus in 2009, he remains one of the most respected chefs in the UK, being one of the rare few who have carved out a high profile media career without sacrificing his culinary or restaurateur's standards. The Fat Duck's two sibling Bray restaurants, The Hinds Head and The Crown, are both accomplished gastropubs, while his makeover of the menu at Little Chef in 2008, for a Channel 4 documentary, led to a first for the roadside restaurant chain - an appearance in the Good Food Guide.
Blumenthal's carefully chosen and idiosyncratic television programmes for the BBC and Channel 4 have gained him a cult following. The latest, screened in 2012, are How to Cook like Heston and Heston's Fantastical Food, the latter exploring his and the nation's collective childhood memories from the 1970s. This year he also used childhood nostalgia to launch an animated tour of the Fat Duck on the restaurant's website, called Kid in a Sweetshop: designed to counterbalance the problem of dealing with 30,000 reservation enquiries a day, it culminates in a make believe sweet shop and is voiced by actor John Hurt.
He has written seven books and in 2010 began a collaboration with supermarket chain Waitrose.
Last month, two senior chefs from Blumenthal's flagship Fat Duck were tragically killed in a car accident in Hong Kong.