Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck changed British restaurants for ever. As he prepares to re-open in Bray, can he do it all over again? With help from magician Derren Brown, a psychologist and a ‘font expert’ he just might
Heston Blumenthal has always enjoyed grandiose gestures but even by his standards the moment when he gets out his own giant coat of arms is full on. “I commissioned this from Dave McKean who illustrated The Fat Duck Cookbook,” he says, lifting it on to the table of the boardroom, located in a building overlooking the three-Michelin-star restaurant he opened in Bray, Berkshire, 20 years ago. “The real one is rolled up in a box somewhere.” Apparently you need an OBE and a degree to be offered one of these by the College of Arms. Blumenthal got his OBE in 2006 and has a bunch of letters after his name, albeit honorary ones, given he left school at 18. “It’s probably one of the things I’m proudest of,” he says gazing at it. “Coats of arms were designed to tell a story.” Right now, he says, story is what he’s all about.
He takes me through the imagery. “The helmet down signifies the OBE. There has to be an animal so it’s a duck, a golden duck because that restaurant is my golden egg. That restaurant has shaped me more than any human being.” We work our way down, past the golden apple, signifying taste, and the outstretched hands, signifying touch. But the most significant part, given Blumenthal’s latest project, is the two words at the bottom. They read: “question everything”.
Perfection is the enemy of creativity. All these ideas of success and failure just equal fear of failure
He tells me he was recently offered a million pounds for two days’ work a year for three years, by a winery. He said no