Celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal is reopening his Fat Duck restaurant in the UK after a nine-month residency in Melbourne.
Now in its 21st year, the Fat Duck is located in the British village of Bray, West Berkshire (30 miles outside London), unusual for a venture so cutting-edge and innovative.
The restaurant, housed in a 17th-century cottage, has been closed during the chef’s stint in Australia, and will now be reopening on September 29 after an extensive revamp of both its interiors and menu.
Known for being one of the forerunners of molecular gastronomy, Blumenthal is a maverick who has spearheaded “multi-sensory” dining and how neurological responses affect our experience of food.
He will next year be named by the Royal Society of Chemistry, as one of the top 175 most influential scientists of our time.
For the new Fat Duck, Blumenthal has created a new narrative-themed menu, reinforcing the trend also adopted by Tom Sellers at his Michelin-starred restaurant Story, in London. (Here you can eat a beef dripping candle as it melts, for example.)
Blumenthal says: “Every dish at The Fat Duck has always had a story, a reason for being. I wanted to evolve more than ever before, those particular elements into a wider, more personal and connected experience for my guests.
“I wanted to also offer something more individual, with a tailor-made element to the menu which would combine all my discoveries thus far, of storytelling, multi-sensory, playful nostalgia and memories.”
The new tasting menu, priced at £255 per person (not including drinks) will “take the form of a map” and uses “a perfect nostalgic day” from the chef’s childhood as a framework. It will take four hours to eat.
Blumenthal says: “It will be a journey, starting from the instant you book your ticket, ever growing excitement for when you arrive and ending after you leave.
“It is me, describing my childhood holiday full of adventure, curiosity, discovery and playfulness, from morning to night, breakfast to dreaming and, in between, activities like rock-pooling and getting an ice cream from the van near the beach.
“The menu with all these elements will act as a catalyst to bring your own memories to life. It’s about bringing people together and allowing them to use all the senses to trigger their memories – where you were, whom you were with, what you ate and how you ate it. It then becomes your own holiday journey.”
The actual dishes to be served have yet to be revealed, but Blumenthal’s famous snail porridge and bacon and egg ice cream will not be back. However, they will be “archived in a Hall of Fame” and make “reoccurrences for special requests”.
A press release states: “A whole new unique approach has been created for the reopening, with a complete rethink about the purpose and reason behind the delivery of each individual component of the experience.
“All elements of service will participate in the occasion: the menu, the lighting, the tableware, the cutlery and the involvement of the front of house team.
“Moreover all aspects of front of house service will play a key role in the theatre of the occasion, providing an experience that is full of unique nudges and magical moments.
“There will be opportunities for guests to simply observe and enjoy the journey in anonymity, or create their own personal and involved experience, as often or as little as they wish throughout the meal.”
The website (thefatduck.co.uk) began accepting reservations for lunch and dinner on September 3, so if you want a table you will have to be fast.