Chef Heston Blumenthal’s bio has a certain cinematic feel: British teenager develops a passion for French food, becomes a self-taught chef, and opens a restaurant that would eventually be named the best in the world. In 2011, he released Heston Blumenthal at Home, which critics regard as an instant classic that helps home cooks benefit from the depth and breadth of Blumenthal’s knowledge.
“Welcome to a strand of my cooking that you might not be familiar with,” the chef writes. “I’m a self-taught chef, and I know how frustrating and perplexing cooking can be. So I’ve always been keen to demystify the process.”
Unlike other Michelin-starred masters, Blumenthal learned to cook at home from cookbooks, and his book is a way to share that experience with others. In the kitchen at The Fat Duck in the town of Bray in Berkshire, England, Blumenthal has pioneered many scientific and culinary advances, allowing diners to enjoy imaginative dishes such as Jelly of Quail with Crayfish Cream and cocktails like the Nitro-Poached Vodka and Lime Sour. Outside the kitchen, he applied this inventive mindset to his most-remembered feat: cooking a whole hog sous vide in a hot tub.
Although focused on home cooking, Blumenthal’s book gives a comprehensive overview of complex cooking methods and deconstructs them for beginners. He also outlines recipes for the home chef that are as achievable as they are exciting. The Scallop Tartare with White Chocolate and the Red Cabbage Gazpacho are two recipes from The Fat Duck that Blumenthal simplifies in the book.
If you want to learn advanced cooking techniques, Blumenthal dedicates a whole chapter to sous vide that’s worth dog-earing. “I’m convinced [it’s] the way we’ll all be cooking in the near future,” he writes. Even if you just want the inside scoop on how to make Blumenthal’s Bacon and Egg Ice Cream, consider this a kitchen must-read.