Thursday, March 06, 2008

Interview with Heston Blumenthal

Heston is chef at the Fat Duck restaurant in the UK, and one of the best known chefs exploring "food science," aka molecular gastronomy. This article is a fascinating look at this mad scientist of cuisine.

This has to be one of the wackiest bits...

4: And he recently injected his head chef with a dangerously high dose of chilli oil, intravenously, and then slid him into a £5 million MRI scanner to see how the spices reacted with his brain.

No, really.

I made him tell me twice to make sure he wasn't making it all up.

"I used the brain scanner at Nottingham University," he says.

"While he was in there I attached a drip to him that intravenously fed him chilli oil.

"I sneakily switched the dosage when nobody was looking so he was getting double the chilli the doctors deemed safe."

He laughs here.

"I did give myself a syringe as well because I felt guilty.

"But I wanted to see what parts of his brain my spices would affect so I could create the perfect chilli.

"I needed to find out the point where the pain of the chilli died down and the pleasurable endorphins that make us like spicy foods were released.

Mad scientist, indeed! One just hopes he had the head chef's permission!

I've not eaten at the Fat Duck (yet), but I know people who have. And the reports are almost always good. This is not just about a gimmick or an excuse to play with toys - these chefs are serious about food, and using every technique at their disposal to improve not just the flavor, but the entire experience of eating.

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