Reach to the top with Heston Blumenthal. After 19 years journey with Heston, what I found “What makes the team click”

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
Ashley Palmer-Watts
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Ashley Palmer-Watts

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Ashley Palmer-Watts

Culinary lets me escape my limited perspective and explore the world

How did you start working in culinary world?

I was born and raised in a small town with only about 1000 people in Dorsett, a Southwest part of England. I started my carrier at the age of 13 at a French restaurant named “Petit Canard”. My father was a drawer for engineering and my mother was an ambulance driver, but they got divorced, and it was a very tough experience for me as I was still too young to accept it. Although “Petit Canard” was a small family-run restaurant by aCanadian chef and his English wife, the restaurant was awarded as “Red M (now it is called Bib gourmand)” for their quality dishes. Everytime I stepped into the restaurant, I could forget about my “small village” mindset and the fact that I was living in a small town in England. I felt like I was immediately transported to the metropolitan city in North America. This is why I headed straight to the restaurant as soon as I alighted the school bus everyday.

Was it attractive for you to work in the kitchen?

I started working as a dishwasher, but in the restaurant, there were only two kitchen staff including the chef. So I started cooking and at the age of 16, I working as a fulltime cook. Because the chef was Canadian, the style of the cuisine was freestyle French with an Asian twist. It was a small restaurant, but they did many collaboration events with the restaurants in France, America, Spain, and Sweden. So I could visit many countries, and I met

many people, I had read cooking books by such notable chefs ass Charlie Palmer, Wolfgang Puck, and Alice Waters. Being in the culinary industry enabled me to see a bigger world and meet many kinds of people. It was a great discovery for me. This is why I decided to dedicate my whole life to this industry.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Ashley Palmer-Watts cuisine

A fatefull encounter with Heston Blumenthal

How did you meet with Heston Blumenthal?

It was my 20 years birthday dinner at The Fat Duck with my colleagues from Petit Canard. I found out that his dishes were not only executed with precise techniques, but also had bold, unique and original flavors. His cuisine was pushing the boundaries of the culinary world. I’d never seen such kind of combination of the flavors and techniques. Not only that, in his team, there were a historian, a psychologist and a scientist who worked together to create the dishes. I cannot explain in the words, but I was irresistibly attracted to the magical atmosphere of The Fat Duck. So I told Heston that I was eager to work at his restaurant.

At that time, the chef and his wife decided to close Petit Canard because they were going back to Canada. I got job offers from several renowned restaurants, such as two Michelin starred “Aubergine” by Gordon Ramsay and “Le Gavroche” the place Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay were trained. But my mind was already set. I determined to work at The Fat Duck. I couldn’t think of working at any other places, so I declined all the offers and waited for the reply from Heston.

So you started working immediately?

When I finished last shift at Petit Canard and came back home at 2am, I found a memo that said “You have a voice message from Heston”. I rushed to the phone and listened to the message. I heard Heston’s voice that said “Come to my restaurant. We need you”. So I left for The Fat Duck the very next day, but my predecessor was still working there. So I needed to wait for 2-3

months picking watercress everyday on my ex-colleague’s field.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal interior

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

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