Heston Blumenthal, innovative chef-proprietor of the Fat Duck and the Hinds Head pub

19 October 2006
Heston Blumenthal, innovative chef-proprietor of the Fat Duck and the Hinds Head pub

Heston Blumenthal, the innovative chef-proprietor of the Fat Duck and the Hinds Head pub, will be cooking for a charity fundraising dinner at South Downs College in Havant, Hampshire. He talks to Joanna Wood about leaving his kitchen for a good cause

Why are you doing this dinner?
One, for the industry charity Hospitality Action and its subsidiary charity the Ark Foundation; and two, I think if you're in a position, like me, where you can inspire young chefs coming through college, then I think you should do it.

Do you enjoy working away from your kitchen?
Actually, we've only ever done about four or five events outside the Fat Duck. I generally say no, just because it's hard to take things out of the context of the restaurant - and if you serve a dish it should always be the same wherever you are.

How will the event work?
There are four of us doing a course each. David Nicholls, of the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park; John Williams, the Ritz; Jake Watkins, JSW in Petersfield - and I'm doing the dessert and petits fours.

What's the dessert?
Mango and Douglas fir purée with a bavarois of lychee and mango, blackcurrant sorbet, blackcurrant and green peppercorn jelly, plus a pine-flavoured sherbet fountain with a little straw dabber. And we're working on some new petits fours with edible wrappers.

They look just like Quality Street wrappers, but you can eat them. We're still working on what's inside.

You're working alongside students as well. How do you put them at ease?
We're making most of the elements of the dish in Bray and assembling it at South Downs - that way we'll have a relaxed service. If we're relaxed, then that will put the students at ease and make them confident enough to ask questions. You can't motivate anyone if you don't talk to them. A couple of lads from the college are also coming to spend some time with us at the Fat Duck before the dinner, so that should help as well.

What else are you up to at the moment?
I've been filming a series for BBC2 for the last 10 months [screening from 31 October on Tuesday nights] and there's an accompanying book for that. It's called In Search of Perfection. We've taken eight British favourites and then examined how much you can push the boat out with them. I'm also writing a paper with Harold McGee, Thomas Keller and Ferran Adrià that tries to put that "molecular gastronomy" tag to rest - that's up on the website in the next few weeks.

Finally, how many are you cooking for, and how do you get a ticket?
That's easy - 80 covers. Tickets from Kerry Mansfield on 023 9279 7952 [£150 per person, £1,100 for a table of eight].

TagsChef and Charities
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