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MPW/Blumenthal History


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I have been rereading Charles Hennessy's "The Making of Marco Pierre White, Sharpest Chef in History -- Marco" with an view towards understanding MPW's relationships with his many progeny chefs (including Ramsay, H Blumenthal, J-C Novelli and, according to the book, to a greater or lesser extent, P Howard).  Here's an excerpt bearing on the MPW/Blumenthal relationship:

"Another worker in the kitchen [at R Blanc's Manoir au Quat' Saison] had reason to be grateful for Marco's arrival. Seventeen-year-old Heston Blumenthal . . . .  had been taken on as an apprentice by Raymond Blanc. Compared with his dreams, he found the kitchen -- as all kitchens are -- hell, and his colleagues brutal. Marco immediately and instinctively assumed the role of protector during Heston's *brief* stay, and became a friend and guest of his family . . . . *With Marco's help* . . . he opened a small bistro in Bray.  The plucky little competitor to Michel Roux's grand Waterside Inn in the same village was called The Fat Duck (The name was Marco's suggestion: When asked why, he asks, why not?)."

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Don't forget the influence of keith Floyd on JC Novelli, i think he was one of the first to spot his talent!

Actually floyd's autobiog is a good holiday read, the english food scene really was dire when he started out, at the time (well according to him, i don't know better) he was a man on a mission converting England to french food

Also re MPW, Simon Gueller, whilst not a protege, worked with marco when he started out in leeds and followed him to Harveys, he's not done too bad either with a star to his name at 2 separate restaurants.

Sorry if this appears again, i'm having tech problems can't see if this message has been recieved, everyone's watching football on the intranet

:angry:  :

you don't win friends with salad

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Why the hell would anyone watch footie on the net? The streaming would be bloody awful. Besides, my workplace is showing it on the big screen in the bar, and we got free bacon sarnies when we showed up early this morning as well. Bonus!  :biggrin:

Miss J

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Phil Howard worked for Marco at Harvey's for about 18 months. You've forgotten Stephen Terry in your list as well, a great and adaptable chef (Harvey's, opened The Canteen for MPW, Coast with Oliver Peyton, Frith Street with Claudio Pulze and now Walnut Tree Inn).

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You've forgotten Stephen Terry in your list as well ...

Note my listing of the progeny was not intended to be exhaustive, but was intended to clarify why I have been rereading (or have read) a book as silly as one revolving around MPW. I am quite interested in chefs and their progeny, and whether one can find stylistic similarities between generations (a broad topic that is fascinating, but that I am not ready to address). Also note the focus of the post was on Blumenthal and MPW's history.  :wink:

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Andy --  :raz: Apologies if my prior post made it appear as though I was taking your comment as a criticism. While the progeny of MPW is itself an interesting topic, MPW has so many culinary children and grandchildren (which generation would Wareing belong in, for example -- did he work for a bit of time directly with MPW?) that it is difficult to keep track.

The MPW/Blumenthal link is interesting because (1) I'm uncertain that Blumenthal and MPW worked at Manoir together for an extended period of time, and (2) the exact ways in which MPW assisted Blumenthal to form The Fat Duck are unclear to me.

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When the Fat Duck first opened, articles about Heston stated that he had a total of 2 weeks experience in a professional kitchen, which I believe was all spent at Le Manoir. MPWs involvement with Fat Duck is not clear, all I can tell you is that Heston is very close to MPW.

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When the Fat Duck first opened, articles about Heston stated that he had a total of 2 weeks experience in a professional kitchen . . .

Err -- Maybe that contributed (or not) to why he had to "take inspiration" with respect to certain dishes from others.   :wink:

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LML will find this amusing:

--The Independent, November 25, 1995: "Mr Blumenthal reckons that in France alone he has eaten in more than 100 Michelin-starred restaurants. He is only 29. . . . By his late teens, he was financing his own *gastronomic tours*. He says that from the time he was 18 . . . every six months, he would take his bundle [saved from not going to pubs, etc.], make for France and eat around with the little red book. His savings clearly added up to *more than meals*.  Mr Blumenthal is not sure how many *cookbooks* he has amassed. Suffice it to say, there are at least two for every meal eaten in a Michelin-starred restaurant.  These are useful things to read if you want to become a chef; however, the only logical thing  Heston Blumenthal  did not do before opening the Fat Duck is train in a restaurant. He says he has only four months' experience in professional kitchens, most of that time spent only recently in the Canteen in west London. Amused and touched by Mr Blumenthal's passion for French food, the Canteen's proprietor,  Marco Pierre White  suggested he work for him for four months to 'earn how to cope with numbers'. The upshot of this *most unorthodox* training, the Fat Duck itself, is a remarkably pleasant place."

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I concur with you andy, i was under the impression that blumenthal was pretty much self taught from books and travelling around france eating (much like MPW's mentors at the box tree in ilkley who taught themselves by eating in all 2 and 3 stars in france!), it was boredom with his career selling office equipment that prompted a move into chefdom.

you don't win friends with salad

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How would a diner teach himself how to cook dishes by merely sampling them?  Wouldn't he need some fairly strong technical culinary skills to be able to "replicate" dishes, including the subtleties?  :confused:

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There is story about White at the Hyde Park Hotel.

Tempted across the channel by White's largesse, top end French sous chefs would be auditioned with the instructions- "Prepare me your best dish!"

The sous chef would do duly that and knock up a Michel Bras, or Guy Savoy or something from whoever they'd been working for. Regardless of whether the candidate was hired or not, many of these dishes found their way onto White's menus.

This is of course generic hearsay, but credible generic hearsay from an impeccable source.

As for the Blumenthal comments, it would seem that the man tailors everything he says in order to feed the media with dainty soundbites that will ever enhance his extraordinary public persona. And judging by the results he doesn't do this too badly

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cabrales re:self teaching

I reckon the most valuable 'skill' you learn from dining at the top end is how food should taste, also food combinations presentation etc can all be picked up.

It's obviously much easier and quicker to learn the technical skills if taught in a professional kitchen but you can certainly teach yourself the theory of how to prepare dishes from books. (eg i've read somewhere HB taught himself butchery from a book!) and the practical can come with, well practice. But because you've eaten, for argument's sake beurre blanc, you know what the consistency, seasoning etc should be and that's what a book alone can't help you with.

If i'm dining and want to know how something was made, that i can't work out i just ask, the staff/chef are usually quite obliging to share info if you show an interest.

you don't win friends with salad

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This article by Tracey Macleod may be of interest. Click here..

Its from what looks suspiciously like the the Waitrose Food Magazine site and seems to concur with a lot of what has already been written.

Cabrales- "Err -- Maybe that contributed (or not) to why he had to "take inspiration" with respect to certain dishes from others." Posted on June 12 2002,08:57

( I haven't quite worked out how to use the quote facility yet, sorry.)  

May I ask why the indignation at Mr Blumenthal allegedly "half inching" dishes from others? Aren't all chefs, be they self taught or not, gulity of a bit of cuilnary plagiarism?

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Much discussion has resulted from the general question of copying/taking inspiration (the General forum?), and from the more particular question of Blumenthal's operations (in this forum).  Perhaps the threads will be easier to locate once the search function in the upcoming software is in place.

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  • 2 weeks later...
"Mr Blumenthal reckons that in France alone he has eaten in more than 100 Michelin-starred restaurants. He is only 29. . . . By his late teens, he was financing his own *gastronomic tours*. He says that from the time he was 18 . . . every six months, he would take his bundle [saved from not going to pubs, etc.], make for France and eat around with the little red book. . . . The upshot of this *most unorthodox* training, the Fat Duck itself, is a remarkably pleasant place."

Charlie Trotter (Chicago) also toured restaurants significantly. The current edition of Art Culinaire describes this aspect of Trotter's background, among other things: "A poli-sci grad from the University of Wisconsin, he began his culinary quest in 1982, embarking on a four year pilgrimage across the United States and Europe and through volumes and volumes of culinary annals. He spent time in the kitchens of Norman Van Aken, Bradley Ogden and Gordon Sinclair, absorbing the perfues, textures and nuances of each restaurants . . . ." :unsure:

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