Food and Drink October 12, 2011
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Heston Blumenthal in and on Berkshire

Although born in London, I was lucky enough to spend my childhood in Berkshire and I am pleased that my own children are having the chance to grow up here too. This county is truly blessed. It is easily accessible from Heathrow and not too far from London, yet has all the benefits of country living. Bray is a beautiful rural village and I was delighted to find an available property when looking for a location for The Fat Duck.
 
It has been quite a journey over the last 12 years and each year brings more opportunities and areas of research for our continuously evolving menus. Over the last few years for example I have spent a huge amount of time working with food historians and also the Tudor Kitchens at Hampton Court Palace in a bid to re introduce some of the dishes from our British past. The effect of our research has contributed to the development of The Fat Duck menu however some of the dishes we have come across I have been able to introduce to The Hinds Head in their entirety: - dishes like Quaking Pudding; Eccles Cake with Potted Stilton and Chocolate Wine with Millionaires Shortbread. This has been a fascinating process and a voyage of discovery. One of the historians told us recently that during the 18th century, Britain had such a strong gastronomic identity that even French cooks used to travel to Britain to learn about our spit roast methods. Imagine. That history is now buried deep in our past, but I am hoping to unearth more of those long lost dishes this year.
 
The last 12 months have been a really exciting time. In July last year I was awarded with an Honorary Doctor of Science Degree from Reading University.

It was one of the proudest and most emotional events for both myself and my family. I have been working closely with the University over the past few years and have written papers with Prof. Don Mottram for the Food Biosciences Department. Berkshire still remains the ideal location for my research. It is wonderful to have access to such fantastic facilities on our doorstep.

In the autumn, the release of “Heston Blumenthal - In Search of Perfection” on BBC2 and the accompanying book added to the year’s highlights. Indeed we are currently filming a new series to be screened later this year. It was a new challenge for us fitting the filming schedule around the hours of the restaurant however we used the series to continue our research into the multi sensory journey of the dining experience. It proved to be quite a successful exercise as, the Black Forest Gateaux - which was one of the dishes from the programme - will be joining the list of new dishes to be introduced later this year at The Fat Duck.

All in all it has been another exhilarating year for both restaurants and 2007 brings a whole new realm of possibilities. As one door opens so do many others it seems.

Heston


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