Heston Blumenthal is the Willy Wonka of the culinary world. Or possibly some kind of chemical-addled 15th century alchemist. If anyone’s capable of turning lead to gold, it’s Heston…and by ‘lead’ we mean ‘biscuits’. And by ‘gold’ we mean ‘some kind of souffle with exploding jam in it’.
He’s the sort of person who hires a ‘development chef’, calls him Jocky and insists Jocky cooks with a pneumatic drill and a cement mixer.
But would you like to cook like him? Most people don’t have nearly enough test tubes and bunsen burners in their kitchen. And it’s hard to convince the kids that edible wallpaper is an acceptable substitute for fish fingers…although mashed potato volcanoes with erupting gravy would probably be a hit.
Clearly aware that his methods are a bit, well, mental, Heston’s toned down his recipes accordingly for this series. In last night’s episode, he focussed on chocolate. The first recipe (chocolate truffles) was about as simple as it gets: melt chocolate with butter, leave to set, scoop out the ganache with a melon baller and drop into cocoa to dust. Voilà: you never have to give those grasping sods at Lindt another penny of your precious cash.
He then expands on that recipe to create an ‘exploding gateau’. Aha, great! That’ll be more like it. It’ll probably contain enriched uranium. Or possibly a combination of diet coke and mentos….or…
Oh, it’s got a popping candy base. Never mind.
He attempts to make it a bit more exciting by freezing the cake and then coating it with warm melted oil and chocolate dust using an industrial paint sprayer: but at the end of the day it’s still just a chocolate cake with a fizzy foundation.
And that’s the problem with How to Cook Like Heston. Obviously it’s entirely impractical to cook like Heston unless you have a centrifuge in your kitchen. And possibly a forge. He’s an exuberant Harry Hill clone with a penchant for making paperclip ice cream and gravy jam.
Unfortunately if you take that away he’s just another telly chef, albeit an accomplished one with a gift for thinking outside the box and combining unusual flavours.
There’s definitely been an attempt to compromise here: the amazing chocolate flowerpot tiramisu with edible soil definitely had the Heston magic. But we want more magic! Bigger thrills! A rocket made from ham! Dark matter mousse!
We proles don’t want to cook like him- it looks like far too much trouble. We want him to make reusable omelette kites with licorice string while we slump on the sofa with a Pot Noodle, gaping vicariously…
Or is that just me?
How to Cook Like Heston is on Channel 4, Wednesdays, 8pm. You can catch up on 4od here