Heston Blumenthal, who this week saw his flagship three Michelin-starred restaurant The Fat Duck drop 20 places in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, has told BigHospitality he thinks the venue is better now than when it topped the list.
The Fat Duck fell to number 33 on this year’s 50 best list – eight years after the Bray restaurant was named as the very best in the world.
However speaking to BigHospitality as he made his way into London’s Guildhall to see the 2013 list being revealed, Blumenthal said he was the ‘most relaxed’ he had ever been about the restaurant’s placing.
“The Fat Duck is 50-70 per cent better now than it was in 2005,” he said.
The legendary chef explained he thought the list was partly about recognising up-and-coming talent in the industry.
“I was sat in the audience two or three years ago and we were second or third, but you heard the Highest New Entry come up and the chef was about 25-28 and I had really mixed emotions because on one hand I was thinking: ‘I am kind of like one of the old geezers’.
“I will be 50 in a couple of years’ time and I think I am a 14-year-old kid so that is really weird.
“Then I remembered I was so inspired by the chefs of France when I was in my formative years so I thought maybe I am moving into a statesman-like role.”
If Heston views his role as a mentor to younger chefs then Ashley Palmer-Watts, long-serving number two and current head chef at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, is the main holder of the mentee mantle.
Dinner overtook The Fat Duck last year and rose two places in 2013 to sit seventh on the list. While Palmer-Watts admitted he was ‘surprised’ the Knightsbridge restaurant had done so well, Blumenthal said its success had been a long time in the planning.
“What is incredible with Dinner is the quality of the food that Ash and the team produce for that amount of people,” he said.
“I had been working on the historical thing for 10 years but Ash and I spent a good couple of years working on the menu and we looked at everything. It wasn’t so much an organically-grown restaurant; we tried to put everything in place (straight away).
“Sometimes when you put all the bits together collectively it presses an extra button. It seems to have touched a nerve on something that is really quite amazing.”
So will the so-called molecular gastronomy wizard be looking to recreate that magic formula on the other side of the pond? Blumenthal told us he was still keen to take both his style of cooking and the Dinner brand to New York.
“We would still love to do it,” he said. “We are still working on it; there are some feasibility issues which we are trying to overcome. Both Ash and I would love to be in New York,” he said.