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OP: The Big Fat Duck Cookbook

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by Heston Blumenthal

What is there left to do when a restaurant has already been named best in the world and has received its three Michelin stars but to publish a spectacular “cookbook” to commemorate those achievements? 

Guardian restaurant critic Jay Rayner notes: “Nobody goes to Heston Blumenthal's restaurant because they are feeling a bit peckish (though it happens that a visit to the Fat Duck will sate your hunger). Likewise, no one should open The Big Fat Duck Cookbook because they are looking for something to cook for supper (though it does contain recipes).” Exception, of course, might be made, even now, for the serious restaurant chef who is seeking a challenge that feels as fresh as it did a dozen years ago.

Blumenthal (1966– ) published this totally admirable ode to molecular gastronomy in 2008—just as such techniques were incorporated into the standard repertoire of the fine dining scene—heartily embracing science as the underpinning of serious cooking. Along the way he cites numerous books that inspired his culinary journey, but none more than Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking, which was, it appears, the impetus behind the chef’s philosophy of rebellion against the culinary status quo and the start of an enduring career.

The book includes a forward by McGee, an autobiographical introduction by Blumenthal, and scientific notes at the rear. The recipes are taken primarily from dishes served at his Fat Duck restaurant in Berkshire between 2001 and 2005. Each is treated in detail and accompanied by musings on sources of inspiration, on techniques, and even on the thought processes behind plating decisions. Dave McKean’s illustrations throughout have a delightful, energetic, comic book style that smartly balances with the grand, full-page photography. 

Although the book was also later issued in a smaller, paper over boards volume, the high production quality of this first printing, surely a great deal more than mere ostentation, is an asset to its enjoyment. Value is packed into every page, and we are pleased to be offering it here in Near Fine condition, including the slipcase. The Big Fat Duck certainly has a rightful place in the collection of any professional. Stunning.

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