Related BBC sites

Page last updated at 15:43 GMT, Friday, 18 July 2008 16:43 UK
Celebrity chef takes on banquets
Heston Blumenthal is famous for creating food like snail porridge and bacon-and-egg ice cream. The celebrity chef owns and runs the Fat Duck restaurant in Berkshire and his scientific approach to cookery has led to several TV shows on the BBC. Newsbeat finds out what's next, and what food he likes.

Heston Blumenthal

You've just finished your TV series In Search Of Perfection on BBC Two. What's next?

I'm actually in the middle of doing two. One is my interpretation of historic banquets. So we're doing Roman, Medieval, Tudor, Victorian and a Christmas one. That's really exciting. So we're trying to make an edible table cloth, for example, which was actually an old Tudor dish. They used to like making foods that looked like something else. It's amazing when you go back in history how creativity's been there for a long time. The other one is I'm trying to tackle Little Chef, which is going to be a real challenge.

How's that going?

It's a big job. It's a very different approach to what I do in some respects in that, if you're for example looking at a new sausage, they sell about 15 million sausages a year. So, it's how we actually develop a sausage recipe to be made in that quantity.

How does it feel when you're addressing an issue like that?

Actually, I have to say parts of this I think, 'Oh my god. What am I doing?' But parts of it I look at what Little Chef do right now and actually it's a lot better than I expected. But it's just on such a big scale. I only went to one Little Chef about 20 years ago so this is all quite new to me.

I really need my Indian takeaway once a week. I have to get that fix
Heston Blumenthal on what he likes to eat at home
But you're not putting anything weird on the menu?

No. I think there was a question, 'Was I going to be doing snail porridge on the Little Chef menu?' but the answer's firmly no. But a little bit of excitement, I think, is going to be really key to this whole Little Chef project.

What is the timescale?

We've started on it. We take over a restaurant which we are going to be reopening sometime between October/November and I think it's due to go out in January.

Have you got any good stories about famous people who've been to your restaurant?

There's some memorable ones of a very big Hollywood actor standing up and doing a Borat impersonation one evening which was quite interesting. The trouble is with the Fat Duck it's such a small dining room that you only have to do something slightly out of the ordinary and it won't go unnoticed.

Have you seen any dips or fewer bookings because of the downturn in the economy?

Heston Blumenthal
Heston Blumenthal was awarded an OBE in January 2006
No. The thing is, we've got such a small restaurant, we only do 40 covers. We've got two people taking reservations so the phone lines get a bit busy, so it's a bit tricky to get through sometimes. So I suppose the phone lines have got a bit quieter but, touch wood, I'm sure things won't carry on like this forever. But, no, that side of things is still fine.

How far ahead are you booked up?

We take two months in advance, maximum. By lunchtime today, lunch service in two months time is gone. There is a big demand. But, having said that, it's only been like that for a couple of years. We got our third Michelin star and we had two and a four in the restaurant, that was it, six people. So we used to be quiet during the week and really manic at weekends.

Where do you stand on other celebrity chefs. Has Gordon Ramsay popped by for a meal?

We're all so busy, it's still such a treat being able to go out and eat in somebody else's restaurant. We tend to do the rounds, maybe not as much as we'd like to. Always as a chef, it's hard, you want to send out extra courses to people but actually when you go yourself to restaurants, you're careful that you don't over order because you can get sent out a lot of extra dishes, which is great to taste but...

So, has Gordon Ramsay stopped by for a meal at the Fat Duck?

Yeah. He's been three or four times.

Of the other restaurants in that league that you've been to, have you got a favourite?

The trouble is, because of living, drinking, sleeping, breathing food, I don't go out very often. So, when I do, it's generally somewhere that tends to be a last minute thing and it's harder to get a table. I really need my Indian takeaway once a week. I have to get that fix.

Do ever just whack chips and fish fingers in the oven for your dinner?

No, but I do have a penchant for a kind of processed prawn cocktail which I probably shouldn't be saying. I don't feast off Fat Duck food at home. There's my food at work and there's what I eat at home and it's a lot more simple than what I cook at work.

Heston Blumenthal was talking to Newsbeat entertainment reporter Natalie Jamieson.

'Teen date' website faces criticism
Friday, 18 July 2008, 06:16 GMT |  Technology
Coldplay Glasgow tickets recalled
Friday, 18 July 2008, 13:16 GMT |  Music
Size 16 girl in Miss England final
Thursday, 17 July 2008, 06:19 GMT |  Health
Jordan: 'Authors are jealous of me'
Thursday, 17 July 2008, 14:54 GMT |  Entertainment
The man who brings movies to life
Wednesday, 16 July 2008, 14:36 GMT |  Entertainment
Wallace and Gromit's new cartoon
Wednesday, 16 July 2008, 16:12 GMT |  Entertainment


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific