About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Heston Blumenthal - In Search of Perfection

Well, it's taken a year for it to arrive in Australia, but better late than never, as Heston Blumenthal's new show, In Search of Perfection, premiered last night on Foxtel. It is a seven part series and it seems that Heston is keen to put his take on some pretty mundane, everyday dishes that any halfway competent home cook could deliver, but that is where any similarity ends as we are taken deep into the bowels of the HB Laboratory and shown some techniques that only the most truly dedicated disciple might attempt to replicate.

Which is not to say that the programme wasn't interesting or enlightening. It was fascinating to watch Heston's restless mind at work, but the fact is, he is a single minded food purist, and nothing gets in the way of where he wants to take a dish; there is no technique or process that is either too hard or too simple, if it gets the job done.

As a host, he is taking us on a journey and does so in a charming, straight forward manner - there is no talking down to anyone, in fact it may come as a complete surprise for Heston to learn that some may find his work the proverbial a bridge too far, no home cook I know is working with liquid nitrogen or dry ice for that matter. But watching him make ice cream in seconds with liquid nitrogen was amazing, he simply poured it into the bowl that contained the ice cream mixture, whisked, and voila, dessert was ready.

Even though many see Heston as one of the supreme molecular gastronomists, he doesn't actually see himself that way, a point he makes well. It would seem he is not about changing food into some sort of surprise, rather, he is more about finding a particular ingredient's pure expression, by stripping away the extraneous, or by combining things in a way that highlights certain flavours or characteristics.

It is worth watching this uber talented chef in his prime, the science isn't impenetrable, just don't blame me if you don't feel the same way about bangers and mash again...ever.

In Search of Perfection
Foxtel, LifeStyle FOOD
Monday, 8.30pm
  posted at 10:01 am

At 4:32 pm, Blogger MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I'll have to see if he's on in Dallas. Certainly sounds intriguing if not anything that will be attempted in any of my kitchens.

At 4:54 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a warm introduction to the show, Neil :) There was some strong discussion of it over on eGullet a while back (afraid I don't have the link right now) and it must be said that many of the analytical processes in conceptualising these 'perfect' recipes are far from logical or rigorous, which sort of defeats the ambitious 'perfect' label. It's a pity, cos the concept had lots of potential.

At 6:50 am, Blogger Gigi said...

I'm all in favor of a nice dark wood pub, so he's got me there. But I'm pretty sure I'm banned by some injunction or another from ever introducing liquid nitrogen, blow torches and dry ice into my kitchen ever again. In the interest of public safety.

At 11:30 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi tanna, it really is worth a look if only to get behind the scenes as it were.

Hi duncan, perfection is completely subjective, how do I know when a dish is perfectly salted for instance? I don't, it's just gut feel and even though there is a lot of science behind Heston's work, at the end of the day, there is gut feel too. However, the show's title is search for perfection, which doesn't mean its been reached; I guess perfection is rather like the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

Hi gigi, I'll be there with you in the pub ordering a pint or two! I kind of feel the same way about all the gadgetry and stuff, much too dangerous in the wrong hands...like mine.

At 3:31 pm, Blogger Anh said...

I have watched the whole series! This show is a winner, showing how a chef develops a perfect recipe. I agree with you that the show goes beyond the molecular gastronomy. I particularly love how Heston Blumenthal combines his knowledge and memories of food & taste. Very interesting indeed!

At 10:41 am, Blogger Truffle said...

I'm a bit of a fence sitter when it comes to molecular gastronomy but I loved his attempt to distinguish himself from it or at least make it seem less pretentious.

I also confess to quite enjoying the ice cream making with liquid nitrogen. Interesting stuff.

At 9:46 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi anh, yes, I loved it too, anything with new ideas gets me in every time.

Hi truffle, I'm with you on that fence. I need to have a good experience with it, but tend to prefer food that hasn't been mucked about with too much. But you're right, it's very interesting stuff.

At 1:01 am, Blogger John said...

Neil, I have only managed to catch two shows so far, due to work commitments, but I must say that Heston's approach to seek perfection is somewhat exhausting. The end product has a certain wow factor which has obviously won him and his restaurant 'The Fat Duck' many awards. I would love to learn some of his techniques, but like said before those toy's are not to be messed with. Hope to catch more shows, till next time.

At 7:42 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi john, having caught a couple more shows now, it's easy to agree with you; his search for the perfect batter left me exhausted...and not certain that it really was all that good. But some of the things that happen along the way really are interesting, it's kind of a journey.


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