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20 April 2014

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Starter for ten: interview with Heston Blumenthal

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heston close-up - Heston1.jpgEver wondered what makes Heston Blumenthal tick? Square Meal caught up with the chef of the moment and subjected him to a burst of quick-fire questioning.

If you hadn’t become a chef, what would you have been?

I used to be a credit controller, and as the thought of doing anything other than cooking is now impossible, I’d have probably stayed as a credit controller.

What was your worst job?

Photocopier salesman.

What would your last meal be?

Sunday dinner with all the family.

If you could only eat savoury or sweet food for the rest of your life, which would it be?

Savoury.

Heston at Dinner - Heston3.jpgWhat’s your guilty food pleasure?

Prawn cocktail – and pork pies.

Do you have a favourite restaurant?

The Fat Duck! Nah, I don’t have one. If you take it as ‘What restaurant have you eaten food from most in your life?’, then it would be Maliks, which is an Indian restaurant in Cookham [Berkshire], because I get a takeaway from there almost every week.

What’s your favourite ingredient to cook with?

I don’t have one.

Any kitchen gadgets you can’t live without?

A knife. If there’s one thing you could least do without in the kitchen, then it’s probably a knife. So I’d go for an 18-20cm chefs’ knife.

What’s been your biggest kitchen disaster?

I’d probably say when the oven blew up at The Fat Duck. In the early days, we had an old oven that you needed matches to light. One lunchtime, I’d just turned on the oven when the phone rang. I picked it up and spoke for three or four minutes – maybe longer, in fact. I went back to the kitchen, struck the match, and BOOM! The oven left the ground and ended up sitting on the fridge across the room. We all started laughing, then suddenly I could smell burnt hair and skin…and then the pain started to come. I had to sit with a bag of frozen peas on my head and tell the pot washer how to finish service for me!

Which is better – winning three Michelin stars or being named World’s Best Restaurant?

I would say winning three Michelin stars because of the tradition of the Michelin guide and the history of what it means. It’s great to be called Best Restaurant but I don’t think you can really have a best restaurant – it’s subjective. Michelin is still the most important restaurant guide in the world. As a young chef, you can have an ambition to get one Michelin star, or even two. But to get three stars, it’s such a rare thing.

Look out for an in-depth interview with Heston in the Spring issue of Square Meal Lifestyle magazine, where he talks about Dinner, his mad professor image and that Christmas pudding.

Photos: Stephen Perry

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