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The Fat Duck Cookbook Hardcover – October 13, 2009
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'What fun it is to follow in this gastro-wizard's footsteps' Observer Food Monthly --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 to enable a greater understanding of taste and flavor. His restaurant the Fat Duck, in Bray, Berkshire, England, 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. Blumenthal lives in Berkshire with his wife and three children.
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The first third, at least, isn't a cook book at all--it's an autobiographical history of developing as a molecular-gastronomical chef. The writing is engaging and speaks with a clear personality; you get the sense that you'd really enjoy sitting down for a chat with the chef/author. The second section is recipes, including extremely entertaining back-stories for how they were developed, from the genesis idea to the trials and tribulations of execution. I laughed out loud reading the recipe for the oysters when he described creating a soundtrack (loaded on an ipod chip which was then inserted into a conch shell) to accompany the dish, as well as the "ocean scent" perfume that was developed by a master perfumer and smeared on fan blades to waft the scent of the sea over diners. And I haven't reached the third section, so I can't comment on that at all.
I am an avid home cook who regularly prepares multi-course, plated dinners for my friends and consequently have a neighborhood reputation for excess in the kitchen. I think the stories in this book might put my dabbling into perspective for my non-foodie friends.
The only thing I would have liked more of, since this is a book about inspiration more than instruction, would be more actual photos of the finished dishes. Many times there are only sketches or images the evoke the sense of the dish, but not the actuality. But all-in-all it's a beautiful book that you'll be happy to own.
The Fat Duck Cookbook is wonderful and it is inspiring to read: I particularly loved the biography of Heston Blumenthal, a self-taught culinary genius who was seduced into the art of cooking at early age and spent the rest of his life learning, experimenting and spending savings to travel to the best restaurants to learn what the best chefs were doing.
For those of you that own other books by Blumenthal (I own "Family Food"), the Fat Duck Cookbook is the most complex to follow: this is due to the fact that the Fat Duck restaurant is a culinary cathedral of modernist cooking and the book represents the length and breadth to which Blumenthal and his team go to, to bring the best and most perfect dishes.
Buy this book if you want to learn how one of the greatest modern chefs deciphers perfection but do not buy it as a cookbook because it is not, in any shape or form, an easy collection of recipes. It is a manifesto of a genius.
5 Stars for the book for sure, but shipping is bad for such a heavy book - looks like it fell off a conveyor belt and fell on the corner with all the pages somewhat bent - very annoying for such a beautiful book.
Heston obsession - read it here if you are as well.
This book would also be a great gift for a hard-to-buy-for foodie.