This week, much fuss and to-do has been made of the Restaurant magazine World’s Top 100 Eating Experiences – mainly focusing on how Gordon Ramsay isn’t in the list any more – though it was good news for Heston Blumenthal as his Fat Duck restaurant was declared the second best on the planet.
The news couldn’t come too soon for Blumenthal, who saw his restaurant closed in March after many Fat Duck diners fell terribly ill after eating at the £200 a head restaurant.
“I needed some good news, that is for sure.” – Heston Blumenthal
Blumenthal who ‘cooks’ food with liquid nitrogen, and serves salmon and liquorice main courses, is famed for his unorthodox recipes and methods, yet the quality of the food cannot be argued with as a judging panel of over 800 food experts have consistently voted his restaurant one of the best: the Fat Duck was number one in this list in 2005 and 2003.
However, Gordon Ramsay cannot be disappointed with the number of column inches he has received for not making the list. Ramsay, who is perhaps the only chef busier on television than Blumenthal, set the precedent by which the world’s celebrity chefs are now living : being omnipresent on televisions around the world and opening many restaurants based on the status thus achieved.
Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal are now more than just chefs: they’re brands; they’re big business.
Having pulled down the world of fast-food and, with the addition of Oliver to the ranks, made people believe once more in ‘rustic al-dente carrots with “the muddy bits hanging off ’em'” – in a style similar to that which we were converted to floating shelves and endless neutral tones in the 1990s – these chefs are on the up and up.
So who actually provides the best meal is a moot point – these guys aren’t cooking them anyway, their foot-soldiers are – rather, the war is being fought in the kitchens of the G20; the war is being fought on Twitter, and Facebook; the generals fight this publicity war in High Definition, widescreen.
This battle is fought and won on our screens, not our plates.