Heston Blumenthal receives the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Lifetime Achievement Award 2017CultureFood & DrinksNews & features
Celebrated chef Heston Blumenthal of The Fat Duck and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal has been awarded the 2017 Diners Club Lifetime Achievement Award. The prestigious honour is part of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards, which will take place on 5th April 2017 at the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne, Australia.
One of the culinary world’s most influential figures, Blumenthal, 50, is largely self-taught. Aside from a two-week stint at Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons in the UK, the London-born Blumenthal has no formal training. He developed his multi-sensory approach to cooking through investigation, experimentation and a single-minded vision to challenge culinary norms. In 1995, Blumenthal opened The Fat Duck, a 40-seat restaurant in the tiny UK village of Bray, where he earned plaudits for his playful, inventive multi-course tasting menu and curious flavour combinations.
Blumenthal’s famed recipes for snail porridge and egg-and-bacon ice cream revealed an appreciation for art and science and put him at the forefront of a gastronomic revolution. Using equal parts science, technical wizardry, imagination and a sense of humour, Blumenthal presented a hyper-experimental dining experience. He was awarded his first Michelin star in 1999, his second in 2002 and his coveted third in 2004. In 2005, The Fat Duck secured the No 1 spot on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
Building on the success of The Fat Duck, in 2004 Blumenthal acquired The Hinds Head, a 15th-century pub in Bray serving traditional seasonal cuisine and historic British recipes. In 2011, he launched his first restaurant outside Bray, Dinner by Heston Blumethal, at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in London, to universal acclaim.
Dinner’s menu mines historical British recipes from as far back as the 14th century and reworks them using contemporary cooking techniques. A year after opening, Dinner earned its first Michelin star and made its debut on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list at No 9, and it has maintained a position on the list ever since. His other renowned restaurants in England include The Crown pub, also in Bray, and The Perfectionists’ Café at London Heathrow.
In 2015, the maverick chef once again made headlines when he temporarily relocated The Fat Duck to Melbourne for six months while the flagship restaurant underwent a renovation. Once The Fat Duck returned to its original location, the Melbourne venue was relaunched as the second Dinner with Heston Blumenthal restaurant.
Over the last decade, Blumenthal has forged a hugely successful TV career with shows including Heston’s Feasts and Heston’s Fantastical Food, as well as working with premium British grocery chain Waitrose.
Among the world’s most revered chefs, Blumenthal has received multiple honorary degrees, a fellowship of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and an OBE for services to British gastronomy. As the 2017 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement award, he joins an elite group of international chefs. Former honourees include France’s Paul Bocuse, Alain Ducasse, Alain Passard and Jöel Robuchon, as well as Alice Waters, Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller.
Acknowledging this new honour, Blumenthal said “I am honoured, thrilled and really quite excited to be given the Diners Club Lifetime Achievement Award. For me, this award is particularly special because it’s voted by my peers. After 20 years of The Fat Duck, I now feel like I’m just starting – and those 20 years were my apprenticeship. The future is very, very exciting.”
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Photos: Alisa Connan (Heston’s portraits)