Chef Heston Blumenthal of The Fat Duck - Biography

Bray - Berkshire, United Kingdom

March 2012

Heston Blumenthal is a name recognized around the world as one of the driving forces in the avant garde food movement. From the humble kitchen of The Fat Duck in Bray, England, Blumenthal turns out dishes like bacon-egg ice cream and seafood served with iPods playing the sounds of the sea, and in doing so, routinely toys with our conceptions of flavors, dining, and cuisine. His pursuits have led him to work with food historians, perfumists, food physiologists, and biochemists from all over the world; he is, one could say, a bit of a food renaissance man.

Born in London in 1966, Blumenthal spent his childhood years in Berkshire, England, where he still lives with his wife and three children. At age 16, he had a transforming experience when visiting the restaurant L'Oustau de Baumaniere, located in a small village in Provence; once exposed to the wonderful world of gastronomy, Blumenthal was immediately consumed by it.

Upon his return to the UK, Blumenthal sought work in London kitchens, but at 16 was considered too young. Undeterred, he spent the next decade teaching himself the rudiments of French cuisine, and working odd jobs to fund trips to France to visit restaurants, vineyards, cheese makers, butchers, and artisanal product producers. His research was extensive, thorough, and determined; it culminated, in 1995, in the opening of his first restaurant, The Fat Duck. Within nine years it had gained 3 Michelin stars, and in the year of its 10th anniversary was named “The Best Restaurant in the World” at Restaurant Magazine’s “50 Best Restaurants in the World” Awards (and it remains on the list, among the top three restaurants, to this day).

One of the books Blumenthal read during the early days at The Fat Duck was On Food and Cooking; the theories put forth by Harold McGee prompted Blumenthal to embark on a sensory journey to explore the science of food and the impact of smell and taste on the palate, memory, and emotional wellbeing.

His pursuits are documented in his weekly columns for The Sunday Times, his television program “Heston's Feasts,” and his cookbooks, including In Search of Perfection (based on his first television series) and Further Adventures in Search of Perfection. The Big Fat Duck Cookbook, published in 2008, was awarded Food Book of the Year for 2009 from the Guild of Food Writers and an award from the James Beard Foundation for Best Photography. He also wrote in 2011 Heston Blumenthal at Home.

Perhaps being knighted by Her Majesty The Queen for his contributions to British gastronomy triggered in Blumenthal his new passion: to delve into Britain’s culinary quintessence. Current offerings on the menu include Mock Turtle Soup and the Mad Hatter Tea Party, or the same Beef Royal dish served at King James II's coronation in 1685.