Not so long ago I was in London, knowing Dinner just opened and Heston would be in the restaurant to make sure everything ran smoothly. One morning I decide to go to Knightsbridge, walk into the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, hoping I can talk to the man himself. At the entrance one of the waitresses intercepts me and I tell her about my business: a little bit about the blog, I’m there to discuss something with Heston and if it would be possible to meet him. Taking my message into the restaurant she comes back after 20 minutes saying Heston is very busy and I can only talk Ashley Palmer-Watts. No problem, at least it’s a way in and who knows, maybe I can manoeuvre myself into a meeting with Mr. Blumenthal.
After a good 40 minutes the same waitress returns with the message Ashley is too busy and I have to leave a cart behind with my contact info and a brief explanation who I am. Not going into specifics before, I write down I’m not a crazed fan, just a regular Joe with a food blog, cooking dishes from the Big Fat Duck Cookbook, who would like to have a talk with Ashley and Heston.
The next morning I still haven’t heard anything. I check my voice-mail, my e-mail, no messages. Honestly, feeling a bit pissed, I say fuck it and decide to make the most of the day in London. After a few hours I realise they may have send an e-mail after I checked in the morning, so somewhere in Notting Hill I go to a shopping centre where I pay 2 pounds for 30 minutes of internet access. I dial in the code. I wait for the welcome screen to load. It doesn’t work. Trying different combinations, asking people around me, nothing is getting the computer to work. Again I say fuck it (stupid!) and head out to the streets before ending up back at the B&B some time later.
Near the B&B there’s an internet café (by now you’ve probably guessed I’m one of those strange people without a smartphone), which has been the starting point of every day in London. I check my e-mail and there it is. An enthusiastically worded e-mail I can come by the restaurant between lunch and dinner, at 5.30pm. Guess what time it is? 5.40pm! You’ve got to be kidding me. Run to the restaurant or suck it up and take a pint? The former of course.
Luckily I quickly find the bus to Knightsbridge, hop in, hop out and sprint to the restaurant. I take a minute to catch my breath and again meet the waitress who helped me the first time and send me an e-mail. She says she thought it was odd I didn’t respond to her voice-mail message. What? ‘I didn’t come through’, I shout out bewildered and full of disbelief. ‘Oh well, you’re here know, I’ll see what I can do’ (later on I recheck my messages with no messages from Dinner, so it seems the universe did everything to stop me from going to there).
The waitress returns, rewarding me like an anxious little dog about to get a little snack: I can meet Ashley. He’s busy at the pass, spots me, walks towards me and holds out his hand. ‘So you’re the crazy guy making all the recipes.’ ‘Yes’, I respond tamely. High-end kitchens always seem to intimidate me. Ashley gives me a tour of the kitchen, giving everyone we come across a gentle, but firm nudge, with the message ‘this guy made all The Fat Duck recipes. Unbelievable.’
I see the vacuum packed pork chops, the oven slash grill, which seems to be able to melt The One Ring, and lots of little components. Back at the pass I fire away questions for a good ten minutes before Ashley stops and says: ‘I’ve got to take a picture with you (haha) and tweet about it.’ After the photo he utters the words I’ve been waiting for: ‘You’ve got to meet Heston!’
He’s in the dining area talking to someone. Ashley breaks in and introduces me. Heston looks bewildered and then says he heard about me that day. Immediately he wants to know how I did stuff. Sound of the Sea? ‘The recipe was doable, the difficulty is it is in freaking Japanese!’ He chuckles. Low temperature cooking? Cheap ass rice cooker setup. ‘How did you make the egg and bacon ice cream?’ I say I went out and got liquid nitrogen and made it according to the book. He looks at me, shakes his head and responds: ‘You’re one crazy guy.’
After talking about the project some more, I mention I haven’t tasted the real deal, never been to The Fat Duck. ‘What?’, Heston says in a slightly choking fashion. ‘You really have to go. Wait, let me give you the contact info of my PA and you can come eat at the restaurant as my guest.’ Cool! After his generous offer we talk some more, before everyone needs to get ready for dinner and I have to get my ass out of there. I thank Heston and Ashley and leave with the info of the PA (Deborah) in my pocket.
The result (it’s gonna be a nice one):
Going to The Fat Duck with two friends and my brother, spend a day in the kitchen and do an interview with Heston. Can’t wait.
New post in about two months……………..