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Magic Water!


Zoticus
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there is nothing wrong with what heston is doing, it is interesting and we can all take something from it. what is wrong is people, particularly trade press, referring to the fat duck as the greatest restaurant in the world.

Matt Christmas.

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it is depressing to see the cuisine of heston lauded as if it is the only way forward for aspirational chefs.  as well as being responsible for the fat duck, heston is responsible as the inspiration for some wide spread and seriously ill judged food in this country.

This is is one of my key concerns about the FD/heston phenomena, I sense young chefs are influenced into thinking this is the only way forward and have little interest in cooking what the customers actually want to eat, which tends to pay the bills.

Let's not forget that for all heston's work/publicity the fat duck by heston's own admission couldn't pay the wages before it got awarded its third star, so if the UK's leading proponent of this style of cooking can't make it pay, then maybe its a good idea not to be blinkered into thinking if it's not pushing the boundaries it's not worth cooking.

Is it not interesting to note that his gastropub the hinds head is a roaring success selling lancashire hot pot?

you don't win friends with salad

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i just don't particularly enjoy having his food in my mouth.

You, me, and a lot of other people. I can't get my head around this; surely, if the ' culinary alchemy', or whatever it's called now, can't get things right at least more often than the alternatives, then there's not a lot to be said for it. Or is it that it just sounds so bloody good? But if it is this, then that would mean that the concept was more important than the product, which sounds plain wrong to me.

what is wrong is people, particularly trade press, referring to the fat duck as the greatest restaurant in the world.

More wrong still, is that there are those who not only believe it, but are willing to invoke it as a supposed rebuttal should one criticize the FD.

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there is nothing wrong with what heston is doing, it is interesting and we can all take something from it.  what is wrong is people, particularly trade press, referring to the fat duck as the greatest restaurant in the world.

In my opinion the greatest it is not, I think that is something we can agree on.

I just think it is wrong that he seems to get slaughtered every time he does something new and different.

Is it Heston's fault that the trade press treat him in this supposed way?

Maybe all the commotion that is caused is playing into his hands and making his position even stronger.

In fact I have just had a thought, is one of you Heston :angry:

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'Food theatrician'?

Indeed, and that's where he's heading more and more. If it hadn't been for the huge cost, he would have been putting on an event called 'Food Opera' at the last Manchester INternational Festival--100 people at a time, to be entertained by the plays on the senses his food 'experiences' can provide. Beyond the fact that its using something which one digests, the relationship to 'cookery' is being stretched more and more.

Which is not to say it isn't amazing in its own way. Its like listening to Diamanda Galas, astonishing six-octave range, but I think I'd still prefer to listen to Cedolins play Tosca. Intellectual poetry's all very well, but not deep down satisfying.

It no longer exists, but it was lovely.

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He's not getting slaughtered.He does things differently, and like any restaurant/chef, people have opinions of what they are doing.Add the fact that he has 3 stars, has been on TV so the general public are aware of him, makes for even more opinions.

love

Heston B

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Rhetoric was never my strong point but it does seem that those ethical appeals here, based on personal experience of HB's food lack the requisite authority to carry the argument , while the pathetic appeals are based in a kind of laudable jingoism for the British food resurgence - but I'm not seeing a logical appeal.

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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Rhetoric was never my strong point but it does seem that those ethical appeals here, based on personal experience of HB's food lack the requisite authority to carry the argument , while the pathetic appeals are based in a kind of laudable jingoism for the British food resurgence - but I'm not seeing a logical appeal.

Thats an end of topic answer if ever I heard one.

Lets move on now then!

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Rhetoric was never my strong point but it does seem that those ethical appeals here, based on personal experience of HB's food lack the requisite authority to carry the argument , while the pathetic appeals are based in a kind of laudable jingoism for the British food resurgence - but I'm not seeing a logical appeal.

Interestingly, NLP is the new rhetoric (in the sense of Protagorean demagogy).

Let my try to frame this another way: you can either cook food because you love it or you can use food as self-publicity because you love yourself.

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Rhetoric was never my strong point but it does seem that those ethical appeals here, based on personal experience of HB's food lack the requisite authority to carry the argument , while the pathetic appeals are based in a kind of laudable jingoism for the British food resurgence - but I'm not seeing a logical appeal.

Isn't the fundamental aspect of this is that it is all a matter of personal taste. It isn't logical, nor is there a requirement for an authoritive view. I enjoyed my meal at the Fat Duck, and found it compared very well to other great dining experiences I have had. Others clearly have not enjoyed their experiences as much, and the cooking has not been to their personal taste. It doesn't make me right and others wrong as there is no absolute standard to judge against.

I enjoy reading critism from all perspectives, I tend to learn (by trial and error i.e. following advice) which writers share my personal taste and which don't. What does intrigue me are the comments that are based on a stereotype rather than experience the dish/concept in question.

He seems to have settled into a Willy Wonka persona which I think defiantly suits him better than the Salvador Dali persona the Sunday Times were trying to fit him up with. Maybe one day a little poor kid will open a Heston Bar and find a golden ticket, wouldn’t that be nice?
Willy Wonka was clearly a great showman, but wasn't he also an true artisan chocolate maker shunning the mass market manufacturers? My guess is that I would enjoy a Wonka Bar more than a bar of Cadbury's as it would be more to my taste.
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He seems to have settled into a Willy Wonka persona which I think defiantly suits him better than the Salvador Dali persona the Sunday Times were trying to fit him up with. Maybe one day a little poor kid will open a Heston Bar and find a golden ticket, wouldn’t that be nice?

Though attempts to grace food with anything like the intellectual rigour of art history are odious, I find the Dali reference interesting.

Both Adria and Blumenthal cite memory and humour as elements in their work and in doing so bear some comparison to Surrealists like Dali.

Dali is often snobbishly rejected by English art historians, partly because some mistrust the suspiciously commercial accuracy of his draughtmanship but partly, I've always reckoned, because they had a problem with that awkward 'humour' thing. If you partly base an aesthetic on humour it's going to be culturally specific. Dali giggled at naked ladies and elephant bums. Perhaps those things are not so universally amusing. Could there have been a German Dali? An English one?

Adria has a lot in common with Spanish Surrealism but I would maintain that HB can't claim a similar connection. If Heston is going to base an aesthetic on humour, dreams and memory, it's going to come out different. I really hope he's looking at the work of the tiny band of English Surrealists. They were funny, amateurish, iconoclastic, geeky and ultimately rather sweet. (Dali, though a constant joker, took himself so horribly seriously - a trait he shares with Adria)

Oddly enough, English surrealism informed people like Dahl when he wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It also inspired the set designers who came up with Wonka's workshop in the first film and Caractacus Potts' lab in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

His Nutty Professor persona fits brilliantly into English surrealism, rather better than any remaining connection with Adria. Personally, I reckon the better HB channels Rowland Emett the better he'll get as a chef.

Edited by Tim Hayward (log)

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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He seems to have settled into a Willy Wonka persona which I think defiantly suits him better than the Salvador Dali persona the Sunday Times were trying to fit him up with. Maybe one day a little poor kid will open a Heston Bar and find a golden ticket, wouldn’t that be nice?

Though attempts to grace food with anything like the intellectual rigour of art history are odious, I find the Dali reference interesting.

Both Adria and Blumenthal cite memory and humour as elements in their work and in doing so bear some comparison to Surrealists like Dali.

Dali is often snobbishly rejected by English art historians, partly because some mistrust the suspiciously commercial accuracy of his draughtmanship but partly, I've always reckoned, because they had a problem with that awkward 'humour' thing. If you partly base an aesthetic on humour it's going to be culturally specific. Dali giggled at naked ladies and elephant bums. Perhaps those things are not so universally amusing. Could there have been a German Dali? An English one?

Adria has a lot in common with Spanish Surrealism but I would maintain that HB can't claim a similar connection. If Heston is going to base an aesthetic on humour, dreams and memory, it's going to come out different. I really hope he's looking at the work of the tiny band of English Surrealists. They were funny, amateurish, iconoclastic, geeky and ultimately rather sweet. (Dali, though a constant joker, took himself so horribly seriously - a trait he shares with Adria)

Oddly enough, English surrealism informed people like Dahl when he wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It also inspired the set designers who came up with Wonka's workshop in the first film and Caractacus Potts' lab in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

His Nutty Professor persona fits brilliantly into English surrealism, rather better than any remaining connection with Adria. Personally, I reckon the better HB channels Rowland Emett the better he'll get as a chef.

Now that is a cracking idea - an automated Emett inspired delivery system to replace the FOH team.

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Now that is a cracking idea - an automated Emett inspired delivery system to replace the FOH team.

Now you're talking!

Without wishing to come over all Francis Drake, I see no reason to place Blumenthal in any continuum with Johnnie Spaniard, be it Dali or Adria.

Rather plant him in that ragtag phalanx of Angus McBean, George Melly, Wilf Lunn, the Sitwells, Neil Gaiman, Vivian Stanshall, Tristram Hillier &c

Oh God.... I'm starting to sound like Ian Dury...

"There are jewels in the craaaaaahn of England's Glory......"

(Anyone who knows me will be aware that I can afford no greater compliment to HB than this)

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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Eddie the Eagle was not a tosser!!!

At the closing Olympic ceremony the president of the Games singled him out for his contribution: "At this Games some competitors have won gold, some have broken records and one has even flown like an eagle." At that moment, 100,000 people in the stadium roared 'Eddie! Eddie!'. It was the first time in the history of the games that an individual athlete had been mentioned in the closing speech.

End of.

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Interesting.

We're arguing about whether a professional cook's enthusiastic amateurism adds up to anything greater than a slight-of-hand act to sell product.

Meanwhile, we're arguing about whether an amateur cook's joyless professionalism adds up to anything greater than a slight-of-hand act to sell product.

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We're arguing about whether a professional cook's enthusiastic amateurism adds up to anything greater than a slight-of-hand act to sell product.

Wrong on two counts. First of all there's a depressing absence of argument, in favour of assertion; and secondly the issue is not as you state, but rather whether 'magic water' etc. is cynical gimmickry designed to take advantage of a feeble-minded client base, and whether what is at stake is a quest for great food or a quest for money and self-aggrandizement.

Otherwise, great post (in a superficially clever way).

Edited by Zoticus (log)
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Isn't his point that a great MEAL isn't just about "great food"? For him, the element of theatre is all part of it?

I can see why some people are turned off by the theatre or playful elements of the meal at the Fat Duck if they are expecting those elements to be of gastronomic interest only. However, if you accept it as part of the package, I believe they add to the experience.

This is why the usual criticisms are the orange/beetroot jellies, margaret marshall's cornet, the liquid nitrogen, hot and cold tea etc.

I've said it elsewhere on these boards: my meals there have been superb. And without delicious food as the bedrock, I would have dismissed the gimicky stuff as nonsense and grumbled about Heston spending more time getting the basics right.

Example: the first time I had the bacon and egg ice cream, it was served as a simple quenelle on the pain perdu. This was way back in 2000. I thought it tasted fantastic. Last year, the ice cream is made tableside, with liquid nitrogen, egg shells etc. It still tasted fantastic, but the preparation added to the experience. However, if the ice cream had been awful to start with, then I would have been far more critical of the gimmickry.

This is in stark contrast to my meal at El Bulli last year. In my opinion, the contemporary new techniques failed to improve on traditional preparations. Frozen egg yolk pellets were poured on to a warm plate and melted into runny egg yolk. But it didn't taste any better than an ordinary runny yolk. What was the point?

So bringing this back on topic, is the magic water in a pursuit of "great food"? Doubt it. It certainly isn't about the taste. I for one can't get excited about water in any form. It's just another element of the experience. And as long as the food tastes good, then why not? Every time I have been to the Duck, the smiles in the room outnumbered the scowls.

Zoticus, if you hate the food, then you'll hate the extra stuff. But I don't think I've ever heard a specific criticism of the food from you. Just that you don't like it, before saying Heston's a "tosser", or something similar. When did you go? What did you have? Did you think everything was bad?

I find it difficult to see how anyone can fail to find the oyster, the quail/pea/langoustine and the foie gras cherry dishes delicious. But that's subjectivity for you.

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I really hope he's looking at the work of the tiny band of English Surrealists. They were funny, amateurish, iconoclastic, geeky and ultimately rather sweet.

I saw an exhibition of Unit One at the Portsmouth City museum about 30 years ago. You don't hear much about them do you? But Heston's more about Old English Spangles than surrealism. (There's the basis for a three hour Friday night Channel 4 special featuring Stuart Maconie and other assorted talking heads right there, "Do you remeber when you used to like, take your pocket money right and ride down to the newsagent on your chopper yeah and like buy loads of a packets of Old English Spangles and like, eat them. Fantastic!").

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When did you go? What did you have? Did you think everything was bad?

I've been twice, once Tasting and once ALC, and I thought much of it was good. In fact, the pot roast pork was excellent. However, there is a gap between good and great and I don't think that this gap is bridged by magic tricks.

The problem is that if HB's magical world of childlike wonderment is bullshit, then there is a very real possibility that those wishing to emulate his success will also emulate his bullshit, and before long we'll be knee-deep in the stuff.

In short, HB is a terrible role model, because he aspires to be more than a chef, and this implies that merely being a chef is somehow a failure, which it isn't.

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When did you go? What did you have? Did you think everything was bad?

I've been twice, once Tasting and once ALC, and I thought much of it was good. In fact, the pot roast pork was excellent. However, there is a gap between good and great and I don't think that this gap is bridged by magic tricks.

The problem is that if HB's magical world of childlike wonderment is bullshit, then there is a very real possibility that those wishing to emulate his success will also emulate his bullshit, and before long we'll be knee-deep in the stuff.

In short, HB is a terrible role model, because he aspires to be more than a chef, and this implies that merely being a chef is somehow a failure, which it isn't.

At least he tries to be original and he doesn't just cook by numbers like alot of other British chefs.What he cooks and presents is a polished product , that is forever evolving,and lots of people come to sample that, everyday of the year/or become regulars.At the end of the day this thread was about him inventing a bottle that you could pour still or sparkling water from just another element of the Fat Duck experience,so why knock it?What an interesting place to eat / work

Never trust a skinny Chef

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At least he tries to be original and he doesn't just cook by numbers like alot of other British chefs.

I think you'll find that is exactly what he does, temperatures, pressure, time etc. etc. All designed to give exacting results every time :raz: (That's not knocking him by the way)

Edited by Matthew Grant (log)

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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At least he tries to be original and he doesn't just cook by numbers like alot of other British chefs.

I think you'll find that is exactly what he does, temperatures, pressure, time etc. etc. All designed to give exacting results every time :raz: (That's not knocking him by the way)

Another way it could be described is taking the risk out of service or consistancy,

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At least he tries to be original and he doesn't just cook by numbers like alot of other British chefs.

I think you'll find that is exactly what he does, temperatures, pressure, time etc. etc. All designed to give exacting results every time :raz: (That's not knocking him by the way)

Another way it could be described is taking the risk out of service or consistancy,

I'm sure that is the reason behind alot of sous-vide chicanery, it's bugger all to do with taste, unfortunately it just easier for a kitchen to cope with versus cooking it on the hob. Without opening a can of worms, most meat i get cooked sous vide would have been better in a pan, SV is not for the customers benefit.

you don't win friends with salad

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