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The Big Fat Duck Cookbook Hardcover – November 11, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 532 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; Slp edition (November 11, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596915501
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596915503
  • Product Dimensions: 12 x 2 x 13.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #488,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The Big Fat Duck Cookbook is the biggest (10 pounds with box), the most expensive ($250) and the most flamboyant (four brightly colored silk marker ribbons, uncountable full-page color illustrations and gatefolds, mainly caricatures of Mr. Blumenthal gliding through a dreamland of foods) cookbook in a bumper year. But like its author, who turns out to be a clear and even affecting writer, there is gravity holding the rocket in orbit. In the back, you will find deadly serious essays on such matters as the effect of heat on meat protein or "ice cream science," by himself and his entourage of university food scientists along with detailed rundowns on new kitchen tools such as refractometers. But all of this is stagesetting and infrastructure for the recipes with the wacko names, the sci-fi techniques and the eureka tastes and flavors... Makes you want to call Bray immediately to get a table at the earliest opportunity, which is two months from now. Meanwhile, there's the book." - Wall Street Journal

The Big Fat Duck Cookbook is itself a work of art, combing a luxurious package with striking page layouts and artwork. Its recipes are almost the least of its appeal: Blumenthal's accompanying essays are the meat of the text and make for a fascinating 500 pages of reading.” - Metroland (Albany, NY)
 
"I have never been so captivated, visually, by a cookbook (my own books excluded, of course), primarily by the illustrations, the playfulness of them, the exuberance of spirit they convey.  A brilliant move to include these.  The food photography is stunning, I think, because it’s so big and Blumenthal’s food is so dramatic... Huge congratulations to Blumenthal and his team for this over the top, way over the top, effort." - Michael Ruhlman

About the Author

Chef Heston Blumenthal has been described as a culinary alchemist for his innovative style of cuisine. His work researches the molecular compounds of dishes so as to enable a greater understanding of taste and flavor. His restaurant The Fat Duck, in Bray, Berkshire, was awarded three Michelin stars in 2004, and voted the Best Restaurant in the World by an international panel of 500 culinary experts in Restaurant Magazine’s list of the World’s Best Restaurants 2005. Heston Blumenthal lives in Berkshire with his wife and three children.


More About the Author

Chef Heston Blumenthal has been described as a culinary alchemist for his innovative style of cuisine. His work researches the molecular compounds of dishes so as to enable a greater understanding of taste and flavour. His restaurant The Fat Duck, in Bray, Berkshire, was awarded three Michelin stars in 2004, and voted the Best Restaurant in the World by an international panel of 500 culinary experts in Restaurant Magazine's The World's 50 Best Restaurants 2005. He also owns the Hinds Head Hotel, a village pub in Bray. Heston Blumenthal lives in Berkshire with his wife and three children.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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The book was a little pricey, but well worth it.
Phuong Tran
This book is pretty symbolic of how Heston Blumenthal cooks: it's done to perfection.
Bradley Nelson
It is a beautiful book full of great information and illustrations.
Elizabeth Kirkpatrick

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Curious Cook on November 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Big Fat Duck Cookbook

This book is an accomplishment worthy of telling Blumenthal's tale of discovery and evolution. It is in fact exactly what I had been looking for every time I had previously purchased an overgrown coffe-table cook book... usually to be let down by the quality, format or content.

Those three aspects: quality, format and content drive the perfect rating I served up. The book is weighty, with high quality paper so thick you will swear that two pages are between your fingers, not one. I seemingly always have trouble with book bindings that fall apart... not this time: the Fat Duck is quite well bound with marker-ribbons for placekeeping.

The art inside is a blistering barrage of jazz-era, inked sketches of Blumenthal at various stages of discovery superimposed upon vividly colored, intriguingly compelling and sometimes darkly disturbing swaths of imagery. If asked prior to reading the Fat Duck, art in a cookbook would have been the component I consider least important to it's overall success. In contrast, here the art is an essential component, almost like theme music that drives audience emotional investment in a theater performance. The photographs are also of exquisite quality and sharpness, even when comprising the entire page.

The Fat Duck is formatted into three sections: History, Recipes and Science. The history section (~125 pages) is a autobiographical tale that really emphasizes how unique Blumenthal's journey has been. His amazing priority of food exploration and inquisitiveness come across clearly in this section. The conversational, fireside manner of the discussion makes it eminently readable.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Bradley Nelson VINE VOICE on November 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is pretty symbolic of how Heston Blumenthal cooks: it's done to perfection. The book is incredibly massive and filled with beautiful photography and brilliant artwork.

The first third of the book is the entire history of the Fat Duck, which includes a lot of Heston's philosophies about food and engaging the senses.

The middle of the book is packed with recipes, many are famous, some are not, and a couple never made it onto the menu. Each dish includes some background, and complete, exacting recipes for every component. These are not simplified for home cooks and call for many obscure ingredients and pieces of equipment. These are the exact recipes used in the restaurant.

The last third of the book is a veritable textbook of food chemistry, with articles by a handful of scientists who have worked with Heston over the years. For disciples of Heston's style of cooking, this will likely be the most useful part of the book.

The price tag may seem steep, but for any serious cook, it is an invaluable tome of information. While the Alinea cookbook was very sterile and straight-forward, the Fat Duck book is much more engaging and playful. And besides, it's pretty much the ultimate coffee table book for foodies.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jackal on June 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Heston has an (scientific) obsession for making the best tasting and best looking food possible. This obsession is likely to make him legendary.

This is a cookbook for a small minority of customers. You must have an interest in molecular gastronomy methods. You must have a budget that allows you to eat at expensive restaurants. You must like odd people that don't conform to all the norms of society.

As other reviewers have pointed out the recipes are extremely complicated. A lot of details are given, but you should be prepared to shell out a couple of thousands of dollars on (used) equipment before you can get started. The book has some pictures of the dishes, but could do with more descriptive pictures.

However, this is just not a glossy book to boost the ego of its author. I find the discussion around taste, chemistry and visuals relating to each recipe very interesting. You really get a look into Heston's thought process. I don't think Heston has used a ghost writer. I would imagine this can inspire both professional chefs as well as amateur cooks, if so inclined. One place to start experimenting might be with the whisky gums, which don't require any expensive equipment.

Heston's general approach is to perfect a dish. You can set out to do something similar given your budget constraint. If you don't have a professional vacuum sealer maybe try with cheap 100 dollar device, and see what happens. Or my might use a vacuum cleaner to suck out the air of the bag. The only thing you need is time!

There is one other audience for this book and that is people interested in the creative process in general. The long biographical essay describes an obsessive person setting out to do something creative.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By JohnD on November 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As many other reviewers have noted, this is not a typical recipe book. Chances are you'll never cook anything from it, or at least not without a lot of modification. The majority of the recipes require specialised equipment (immersion circulators, centrifuges, PacoJets, etc etc) and are impractical for home cooks. Nevertheless it is fascinating to read not only the recipes but the descriptions of how they were developed. A typical recipe development seems to take years: kernels of ideas crop up sporadically (in Heston's brain) and patiently wait to be combined with other ideas into a recipe that continues to evolve and change over time. Heston's descriptions of these ideas and the process he uses are intriguing, and he explains everything with a palpable sense of excitement and enthusiasm.

Of course, this is not just a recipe book. The first part of the book is a history of The Fat Duck and charts its transition from a 'typical' restaurant to one of the world centres of modernist cuisine. The next part contains dozens of recipes, unsimplified but easy to read, and amazing photography that complements the text. The final section is a long series of essays about subjects relating to modernist cuisine: food science, technology, the physiology and psychology of taste, and more than a little basic science. This part of the book is the heaviest going, but is accessible to anyone with a basic general science education. In addition, throughout the book there are fantastic cartoon-style illustrations that serve to underline key points and - perhaps most importantly - lend the book a whimsical tone and give an insight into the personality behind the book.
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