Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

The Fat Duck 2005


tony h
 Share

Recommended Posts

Although I wouldn't take Ms Cavendish's "ambivalence" too seriously, I'm very interested by the polarised views on this forum.

I think it's a good thing. I'm only sceptical because my Fat Duck experience didn't live up to the scientific promises. Although there's plenty to praise about the place, especially the a la carte, I can't help feeling that the science is inappropriate if it can't overcome the fundamental hurdle of making food taste nice.

Dirk, as far as I can tell there isn't hostility to those who don't like the fat duck (Andy's remarks aside), but to the sort of reasoning you exhibit in your post.

Food science has nothing to do with being a good cook, any more than owning a food processor means you are able to be a good cook. Heston never confuses the two, and has said so explicitly in just about every interview he's ever given. There are no 'scientific promises,' and I'm unsure why you even raise the idea. Science can't make food taste nice any more than my grandmother.

Next time you're in the area, ask to see the kitchen. There are chefs, and sous chefs, and stagieres, sweating over hot stoves, cooking food. That you didn't like it has nothing to do with anything but your experience of it. To keep laying it at the feet of 'science' is fallacious.

Edited by MobyP (log)

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dirk, as far as I can tell there isn't hostility to those who don't like the fat duck (Andy's remarks aside)

Let me be very clear here: I am not hostile to anyone because of their particular restaurant likes or dislikes. I have made comments on this thread which reflect my reaction to Mikael's style of reporting, I have not criticised his tastes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dirk, as far as I can tell there isn't hostility to those who don't like the fat duck (Andy's remarks aside), but to the sort of reasoning you exhibit in your post.

Food science has nothing to do with being a good cook.

That you didn't like it has nothing to do with anything but your experience of it. To keep laying it at the feet of 'science' is fallacious.

Forgive me, but I was under the impression that Heston had 'discovered' a kind of homeo-molecular rationale, whereby the presence of like flavour compounds in disparate foodstuffs amounts to harmonious marriage on the plate. Thus, the incongruity of combining oyster & lavender, white chocolate & caviar, salmon & licorice, etc is justifiable and desirable on the basis of theory.

I assumed that these combinations were driven by this rationale, I assumed that they tasted dubious because this rationale was flawed. Your explanation has helped me to see that in fact it was my mouth that was at fault. In future I shall ignore my senses and consult you on what I should or should not like.

(How could I have been so stupid?)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

the strange thing (for me at least) is that i have never had the slightest inclination to eat at the fat duck. when i heard of l'enclume, i knew i had to eat there, but the fat duck leaves me cold. one of the greatest, if not THE greatest pleasure in my life is eating well, i cook a 'proper' meal every nght and spend a lot of time and money sourcing good produce, but i cannot summon up any enthusiasm to go to bray (except for the waterside.....)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi there,

I was a stagiaire in the Fat Duck in January this year. I read all the good & all the "bad" articles about the Fat Duck. It seems to me that the whole Culinary world is focused on every "move" they make. I will use this thread to show you guys again that behind every famous chef there is a whole bunch of good chefs. Every member of the Fat Duck team (Kitchen, Front of house, Office etc.) are standing 100% behind Heston´s Vision and are a valueable good which Heston really takes care of. Just one example. At least every 2 weeks there is a 20 minute massage session for every chef and every waiter. Even i got one when I worked there. I think that many restaurateurs would tell this every journalist for promotion purposes, but Heston is doing it, because he knows that you always get what you give.....Thank you Heston.

Here is a list of the Fat Duck Kitchen Staff. They are really good chefs:

Paul (Butcher, from Ireland)

Michael (Amuse, from Canada)

James (Pastry Chef, from Scotland)

Roisin (Pastry, from Ireland)

Dan (Pastry, from Canada)

Reddy (Pastry, from England)

James (Starters 1, from England)

Theis (Starter 2, from Denmark)

Marry-Anne (Meat & Junior Sous Chef, from England)

Sam (Meat, from England)

Rupert (Entremetier, from England)

Chris (Scientist, from the U.S.)

Ashley ("Plating" & Headchef, from England)

Heston ("Passe" & Owner, from England)

GianLuigi (Stagiaire, from Italy)

Paul (Stagiaire, from England)

Sam (Stagiaire, from the U.S)

Papatchi (Stagiaire, from Denmark)

and me, Reuven (Stagiaire, from Germany)

and I think that by now there is even more staff and more stagiaires as the kitchen space was expanding after I left. If i could arrange it in my professional career, and this kind of food is not even my "style" of cooking, i would love to make a "stage" again in 2006, 2007, 2008...........

Now the Culinary Experts can go on and write good & bad articles, because I was there, i worked there, i ate there and i will always remember........

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Forgive me, but I was under the impression that Heston had 'discovered' a kind of homeo-molecular rationale

Blumenthal's methods are a mater of record, just search on the Guardian website for his archived cookery columns. There's also quite a lot of theory in his Family Food book. These notes, although a few years old, explain quite a lot about Heston's approach.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Let me be very clear here:

Andy - I entirely apologise. I was being facetious, but ommitted the smiley. :biggrin:

I assumed that these combinations were driven by this rationale,

They aren't. They're driven by a group of chefs deciding they taste delicious. Some are subject to post-facto analysis; for instance the caviar and white chocolate. Heston created the dish, and then showed it to a representative from Firmenich (a Swiss flavouring and perfume company). The rep posited that the elements of white chocolate and caviar night share some amines - chemical components which eventually break down into amonia (also found in maillard reactions). The Firmenich gentleman took it away and discovered this was correct.

There are some dishes whose invention might have been aided by chemical analysis - for instance, Heston Blumenthal discovered that one of the components of red cabbage was mustard oil - this lead to the idea of making a red cabbage gazpacho, and using the pommery mustard ice-cream as a garnish. But the reason he serves this dish is not because red cabbage contains mustard oil. The reason he serves it is that he and his staff thought it was delicious. That I find it delicious is irrelevant. That you may or may not find it dubious is equally irrelevent.

I assumed that they tasted dubious because this rationale was flawed.

The dishes tasted dubious because you didn't like them. For many years I found oysters disgusting. Does that mean that oysters are disgusting, and that the 'rationale' of pulling shell fish from the ocean, ripping them open and eating them is flawed - or simply that I didn't like them?

Your explanation has helped me to see that in fact it was my mouth that was at fault. In future I shall ignore my senses and consult you on what I should or should not like.

Dirk, your mouth may indeed be at fault. It might bear all the weight of original sin, and be accused of war crimes on a Lincolnshire sheep farm, but that's not the topic we're discussing. Still, if you want to consult me - well, I just wouldn't. No one else does, probably for a very good reason, and I don't see why that should change.

Edited by MobyP (log)

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Let me be very clear here:

Andy - I entirely apologise. I was being facetious, but ommitted the smiley. :biggrin:

(A dull thud is heard as Lynes falls of his high horse. Flustered, he brushes himself off)

"Right. Good. Well then, let this be a lesson to, ah, ....to us all! Carry on."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Forgive me, but I was under the impression that Heston had 'discovered' a kind of homeo-molecular rationale, whereby the presence of like flavour compounds in disparate foodstuffs amounts to harmonious marriage on the plate. Thus, the incongruity of combining oyster & lavender, white chocolate & caviar, salmon & licorice, etc is justifiable and desirable on the basis of theory.

I assumed that these combinations were driven by this rationale, I assumed that they tasted dubious because this rationale was flawed. Your explanation has helped me to see that in fact it was my mouth that was at fault. In future I shall ignore my senses and consult you on what I should or should not like.

(How could I have been so stupid?)

Quite easily I would think from the fallacious logic you've displayed so far in this thread. Which is a shame because from reading the above you do seem to be able to describe complex food science in really readable terms.

I wanted to understand Dirk a little better, so I decided to read all of his posts. I am aware that I really do need to get a life, but 38 out of Dirk's 91 posts directly mention the Fat Duck and/or Molecular Gastronomy. All pretty much negatively apart from the one where he says he was one of the first 100 people to eat at FD when it first opened.

Any sort of glance over your posting history shows that you have written one post that actually describes a restaurant dining experience in any real depth (several where you said you liked or disliked a meal but didn't mention a single dish), but almost every single other post has been either about capons, restaurant guides or The Fat Duck/Molecular Gastronomy.

Which feels very strange to me. Why, as someone who proports to enjoy fine dining, would you allow your contribution to a food website to be so much about a restaurant and style of cuisine you don't enjoy?

You accuse others of having agendas. You have one too, don't you Dirk?

Suzi Edwards aka "Tarka"

"the only thing larger than her bum is her ego"

Blogito ergo sum

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow Suzi,

Way to back up Dirk's argument! Did you Google him aswell? First time i heard of HB was when i worked at Michel Bras. I managed to pick up a copy of Food Illustrated(pre Waitrose), which contained an article on Fat Duck with pics of Heston with Michel's book under his arm. Indeed a number of the featured recipes had a distinct gallic influence. I guess HB then was further influenced by Adria & MG. All the top chefs are using science to develop technique, textures & perceptions after working at Bras & visiting the labs at Arzak(friend works their) & Berasetegui the import & influence of technology is obvious. MG in the hands of a chef who does not fully understand or sympathize with the nature of an ingredient can be as flawed as traditional food disasters, however it seems that the weight of opinion can rationalize the flaws of MG because at least it challenges us(marks for effort!). Whilst at Arzak i had a dish of Sole that had thin sheet of agar over the fillet, a sauce was poured over it & it vanished! Cool but from a chefs point of view i find it amusing that your job could be to produce this item, the line between food & entertainment is obscured. Thankfully i managed to make the Sole disappear under my own steam.

I have not eaten at FD but would like to- i would also like to see HB use more local/seasonal ingredients(i guess i relate to Gastroville) because i do not need science to dictate the logic of this rationale- just a bloody good chef!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So many are now asking that he uses seasonal produce to further enhance what he does as most of us are on the lookout for great produce when the land tells us to eat it, myself included for my restaurant.

However when Ferran Adria was asked this question during his demo last year at the royal horseguards his answer was that "how come we can get fantastic seasonal produce from scotland with an 8 hour lorry journey and also recieve perfect produce from europe within merely 2-3 hours flying time, surely the european is actually fresher.

I myself have eaten at the FD on a few occasions and whilst the surprise elements are pretty much gone, you will notice evolution of each recipe constantly both in flavour and presentation, also I have had many conversations with Ashley there who has numerous local market gardeners working for them, example the pumpkin for the ice cream has to travel a whole two miles to reach them, so when possible they are using local and seasonal produce.

As I have mentioned before no restaurant can please everyone all the time and I know I couldn't stomach Hestons food every day of the week, sometimes I just hancker for a great greasy fish and chips from my local chippy, as I am sure is the same with everyone. not to mention of course that my wallet certainley couldn't handle it.

And as I am aware the flavour combination thing was initiated by culinary history and knowledge and then backed up and further discovered by hestons work with Firmenich Flavour laboratories in Geneva.

Alex.

after all these years in a kitchen, I would have thought it would become 'just a job'

but not so, spending my time playing not working

www.e-senses.co.uk

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wrote: “In today’s world were raw material can be quickly ordered and shipped to a far away destination, there is little reason to argue that chefs, except perhaps for chefs exploring the local terroir, should only use local produce in season. On the other hand, it is arguably easier to find the most exceptional ingredients from a selection in season than from the produce imported in off-season from far away”

In other words, working with produce that is seasonal far away means much more difficult sourcing since you have no direct contact with the farmers in question. For example, I have yet to see vegetables in an out of season location even remotely close to those in season from Madame Nys, who used to produce vegetables, herbs and flowers to measure to Roger Vergé and Maximin in their heydays.

In any case, Heston stretches the seasons for ingredients a bit too much in my opinion which leaves room for improvements and the practice of using for example dried morels is just totally inexcusable.

There are still derivate elements evident in Heston's cuisine and particularly in his platings, but he is far from alone with this practice, since this is evident to some extent in most places below the very top and at times even there. Getting rid of such derivative signs is a very long process for a chef but is in my opinion one of the requisites for forming a unique style.

When my glass is full, I empty it; when it is empty, I fill it.

Gastroville - the blog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

... and the practice of using for example dried morels is just totally inexcusable.

I know that this is off-topic, but I would personally prefer good dried morels to the "fresh" morel containing stones that I was served last week!

The restaurant in question (which had better remain nameless but was not in Bray) did apologize but I still felt that good service would have had them check the morels themselves rather than assuming that their supplier had cleaned them properly. As Duncan commented at the time, surely someone should have noticed the weight?

As far as the Fat Duck goes, personally there are dishes that I don't like but in general I find both the service and food excellent.

My personal dislikes include red cabbage gazpacho with grain mustard ice cream and the tobacco chocolates. It is commonly asserted that the Fat Duck menu never changes - it does, but often in subtle ways - I just wish it would change to remove the red cabbage!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Forgive me, but I was under the impression that Heston had 'discovered' a kind of homeo-molecular rationale, whereby the presence of like flavour compounds in disparate foodstuffs amounts to harmonious marriage on the plate. Thus, the incongruity of combining oyster & lavender, white chocolate & caviar, salmon & licorice, etc is justifiable and desirable on the basis of theory.

I assumed that these combinations were driven by this rationale, I assumed that they tasted dubious because this rationale was flawed.

i thought the same, i thought the science came first, not the combinations.

i'm suprised that anyone would put the combinations together on a trial and error basis, i wonder where the inspiration came from?

cheers

gary

you don't win friends with salad

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i'm suprised that anyone would put the combinations together on a trial and error basis, i wonder where the inspiration came from?

Ferran Adria talks about the 'mental palate', the faculty of judging how flavour combinations will taste without tasting them. Perhaps Heston's is particularly active, and he can get through an exponential set of combinations of an evening, and seize on the ones that will be striking and (to him) successful...

He is, after all, actively seeking novelty and surprise in his food, an artifice that is of course a factor in the 'old school' resistance to his cooking.

However, as with the snail porridge story in the contentious evening standard article, the real explanation probably has more to do with chance than exponential judgement.

Ian

I go to bakeries, all day long.

There's a lack of sweetness in my life...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have just spent the last 4 days on the phone,trying to get a reservation for the Fat Duck.

I woke up this morning at 8.50 (lines open at 9am) spent an hour on the phone.

At bloody last,booked for 22 June. 8.30

Cancellation fee £67.50 per person Bit steep?

Anyway, I remember a while ago, A topic about places to stay in Bray.

Can anyone jog my memory............

Regards

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cancellation fee £67.50 per person      Bit steep?

I haven't heard of them doing that before. I've certainly never had this mentioned when I have booked, although it's over a year since we last went.

Is this if you cancel at all, or only if you cancel less than something like a day in advance?

If this is for late cancellation that may be reasonable since that is the cost of the cheapest meal (!) that you could have (the a la carte) in the evening...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cancellation fee £67.50 per person      Bit steep?

I haven't heard of them doing that before. I've certainly never had this mentioned when I have booked, although it's over a year since we last went.

Is this if you cancel at all, or only if you cancel less than something like a day in advance?

If this is for late cancellation that may be reasonable since that is the cost of the cheapest meal (!) that you could have (the a la carte) in the evening...

Yea, it is for 24hrs.

Like yourself i was there a year ago,and no metion of a cancellation fee

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...