More than three decades ago, the self-educated chef Heston Blumenthal began his gastronomic career, and one which led him eventually to open up The Fat Duck restaurant in Bray, Berkshire in 1995.
At the end of March 2014 Blumenthal announced that he would be closing the Fat Duck in the UK in 2015 for six months in order for it to undergo a series of renovations. Heston and his team relocated to Crown Towers in Melbourne, Australia for six months, but now have returned. The Fat Duck re-opened its doors on the 29th of September.
Heston’s time ‘down under’ he says has given him a unique opportunity to reflect on the path on which the Fat Duck seemed to be heading. It has also allowed him the time to focus on new paths that his signature eatery might want to explore.
Blumenthal is of course no stranger to the unorthodox, ever since he first served crab ice cream way back in 1998. His menu has always been based on re-kindling past experiences, and taking diners back in their personal gastronomic histories to re-savour dishes they might think they have long forgotten.
“Every dish at The Fat Duck has always had a story, a reason for being,” Blumenthal says. “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 story telling, multi-sensory, playful nostalgia and memories.”
Venture to The Fat Duck’s new website and instead of being shown a boring list of starters, mains and desserts, visitors are instead presented with a map that has obviously been influenced by Alice in Wonderland. Potential diners are invited to explore the map more closely by use of a digital magnifying glass but as of yet, there’s not a lot to be revealed.
“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 The Fat Duck,” Heston continues. “It is me, describing my childhood holiday memory full of adventure, curiosity, discovery and playfulness that spans a day, 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 re-born Fat Duck began to take reservations at the beginning of September and already the diary is full until February 2016. If you want to share in what will be a brand new era for The Fat Duck, then head to http://www.thefatduck.co.uk.