Sunday, 5 November 2006

Heston Services - In Search of Perfection

Heston Blumenthal - 'The Wizard Of Bray'Last week we saw the first part of Heston Blumenthal's new series on BBC2 - "In Search Of Perfection". Well done to Silverbrow for getting in so promptly with a review, or leastways with a reference to the review by Charles Campion of The London Evening Standard.

It would be easy to pretend an interest in Heston because of his fame. He does, after all, own and run the most successful restaurant in Britain and one of the top ranked establishments in the world, but I've had an interest in this chef for a long time now and despite mixed feelings about what he produces I have great admiration for the man.

A long time ago my dad gave me a copy of Heston's biography, gleaned from somewhere on the web. There's a potted version on The Fat Duck website. I defy anyone but the coldest heart to read the story of Heston's rise from unsuccessful trainee with Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir to Britain's number 1 restauranteur without being touched by the man's sincerity and deep love of food. He shows us all that it really is possible to reach the heights of your profession without making that your overriding goal. I may not fancy bacon and egg ice cream, but I have huge respect for this chef who, in 1969, was a three-year-old growing up in Paddington while my dad was the first ever full-time students' union officer of a non-university in Britain, at nearby Paddington Technical College.

Jun Tanaka - 'Cooking It'I couldn't agree more with Charles Campion, when he contrasts the intelligent offering from Blumenthal with the "populist tosh" offered by Jun Tanaka on Channel 4. I quite liked "Cooking It" when the series first started, but since then it has rapidly descended into formulaic and unbelievable nonsense.

Great film is about the "suspension of disbelief", which means you know that something is not really the way it is portrayed, but, to quote Clark Gable's Rhett Butler, "quite frankly" you "don't give a damn". Watching "Cooking It" I felt no inclination to suspend my utter disbelief in the prospect of a British female fast-food-munching bimbette suddenly cooking food at competition-winning level after a few hours of tuition from a Japanese male Marco-trained bimbo. Ughhh!

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