Heston has been incredibly busy of late putting the last touches to his culinary delights for the opening of ‘Dinner’ – his new restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Hyde Park. Spits and clockwork machinery will be taking the place of Heston’s test-tubes and liquid nitrogen to produce a range of dishes inspired by recipes from the Middle Ages, Tudor, Stuart and Georgian periods.
As Heston says, "We have a culinary heritage as good as anywhere in Europe if you go two, three or four hundred years back but somewhere along the way it got lost for all sorts of reasons. We were first known as Les Rosbifs by the French because we were experts in cooking meat over an open fire. So the French used to send their chefs to the stately homes of England to learn how to do it." Dishes including ‘spit-roast pineapple’, ‘meat fruit’ and ‘rice and flesh’ will be on the menu and Swiss watchmakers Ebell have been working on an impressive clockwork mechanism which will be used to operate a huge medieval meat spit - on show to diners behind a glass screen.
Heston pushes the limits and boundaries associated with our expectations of what food should taste, smell and look like. Fellow chefs including the legendary Adria Ferran – founder of the Michelin-starred El Bulli restaurant in Spain – seek to move forward creatively, reinventing the art and science of food and taking us to new levels of innovation. The development of new technologies – including revolutionary freezing methods for example – bring together the best of lessons learnt hundreds of years ago and new insight into what it is possible to do with food. The possibility of making ‘frozen chocolate air’ and ‘foie gras noodles’ frozen with liquid nitrogen have never before been possible. Innovation, adaptation, and fearless experimentation are key.
Adria has announced that he will be closing his restaurant in 2012 to take time to reflect before re-opening with a new format. As Adria says, “There are certain moments in life when it comes time to stop and reflect, recharge the batteries, come up with a new direction. I don’t know why anyone should be surprised at this. It takes a lot more these days, in every walk of life, not just cooking, to be fresh and creative. The world is much more complex now.”
We –along with the thousands of excited diners who have to reserve months or years in advance to eat at El Bulli – will be looking forward to Adria’s fabulous new venture!
Copyright Speakers Corner 2016