Dinner with Heston Blumenthal
Londonlaunch hosted a VIP dinner for 25 guests at The Saatch Gallery in London with special guest Heston Blumenthal and fine dining by Rhubarb.
When Heston’s on the guest list you know you’re in for an exceptional evening. And when your guests start raving about the canapes you know the stars are coming into alignment.
Champagne and minimalist-chic canapés led the way into the Saatchi Gallery’s private dining room at the adjoining ‘Gallery Mess’. Surrounded by huge paintings, dusty pink roses, white linen and flickering candles, we were treated to a quintessential Rhubarb fine dining experience. The spectacular menu featured picked Cornish crab, roasted beef fillet and layered lemon dome. Every dish was a foodie work of art but of course the biggest dish in the room was Heston himself!
As coffee was served, we settled in to listen to the world according to Heston. This might have been a dining table of 25 but he has the knack of making you feel as if you’re having a cosy, funny, fascinating one-to-one chat with him.
And so the tale began… At the age of 15 the Blumenthals went ‘en famille’ to Provence for their first European holiday where they experienced their first Michelin starred restaurant. The restaurant came complete with a handle-bar-mustachioed sommelier, a menu the size of a barn door, course after course of mind-blowing new flavours and the mother of all cheese trollies. “I’d never seen anything like this before in my entire life, it was like I’d fallen down a rabbit hole into Wonderland. I was totally hooked”.
He promptly bought a French cookery book and, with the aid of a dictionary, he translated it. Every. Last. Word. Forget “Je m’appelle Heston”, the guy could ask for caramalised onions in French whilst the rest of Britain was still making do with chicken in a basket.
From there we made our way through the humble beginnings of The Fat Duck, the good people of Bray’s ‘welcome’, surviving on 15 hours sleep a week, exploding ovens, trying to light a blow torch with the hot water tap right through to the mythological browning of meat.
Heston asks, “Why does a steak sizzle in hot oil? It’s the water. The higher the heat and the longer you cook the steak for, the more the proteins contract. The contraction squeezes moisture out of the steak and you end up with a dry piece of meat. So, contrary to almost every cookery book, browning doesn’t seal in the juices. Finding that out was like discovering that Father Christmas wasn’t real!”
If this universally accepted kitchen truth was actually not true, what else was going to mess with Heston’s head? Quite a lot as it turns out.
As Heston points out, we’ve all fallen for the old trick of being seduced by a wine on holiday. Sipping a glass in the warmth of the evening sun, a healthy glow on our cheeks and the tinkling of a fountain in the background. “You buy several cases, invite your boss and friends round to impress them, take a sip and think “That’s horrible”. That’s because you bought the wine and took it out of its natural environment”.
“It’s perception and emotion that influences our food experience. And these perceptions are created and influenced by everything around us, from the space we’re in to the sounds and the colours. Even the atmosphere, literally the humidity, the breeze, everything. All these things change and influence how we experience food. “
And therein lies the future of food according to Heston. Hopping back into his seat, he warmed to his subject of neuroscience, evolution and the link between our brains, our senses, our perceptions, physiology and food.
Here are a few bite-sized facts from Heston’s fascinating after dinner talk:
• Play classical music in a wine shop and people will spend 15% more.
• Play rock music in a restaurant and people will eat 15% quicker.
• Play relaxing music and people will eat 15% slower.
• A recipe in a fancy font is perceived to be more complicated than one in a basic typeface.
As one of our guests said the next day “I’ve been busy filling in everyone at work on the details which I think proves the point: Everyone is interested in food. Meeting Heston is like meeting a Damien Hirst, David Beckham or Bono - food is very rock and roll.“
We couldn’t agree more.
Find out how to host a dinner with Rhubarb and Heston Blumenthal:
“rhubarb” has joined forces with innovative Michelin-starred chef Heston Blumenthal. The relationship means that Heston and his development team work exclusively with “rhubarb” on a variety of both technical and creative aspects of “rhubarb’s” events.
His creative and unique approach has complete synergy with our own identity and we are delighted to offer this unique partnership to our clients, from developing bespoke menus to Heston cooking at events. His expertise brings an exciting new dimension and flavour to “rhubarb”.
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