Why I hate Heston: Sue Nelson takes on the culinary wizard
20 September 2016 • Author(s): New Food
Sue Nelson hates Heston Blumenthal. Well, she doesn’t really hate him – he’s probably a very nice man – but she despises his gastronomic gadgetry and gizmos, because they’re killing the national passion that is great cookery.
As leader of Tech London Advocates’ Food Tech Group, presenter of The FoodTalk Show and CEO of tax relief consultants Breakthrough Funding, who specialise in R&D tax credits for innovation, Sue Nelson is no stranger to new ideas. However, there’s new and there’s numpty. Although his restaurant food is undeniably spectacular and certainly has a place in the culinary landscape, Sue believes that Heston’s TV work as a celebrity chef falls firmly into the latter category.
“Every diner should expect a restaurant meal to be excellent, but it doesn’t need to have been beamed down from the Starship Enterprise.”
“This isn’t just a minor quibble about over-complicated food – Heston is really hindering the confidence of great home cooks in this country,” Sue said.
“Television cooking seems to have evolved into a voyeuristic chemistry lesson, or learning to win at gastronomic Jenga.
“Molecular gastronomy is dry, faddish, sterile, macho and boring. Traditional domestic cooking is passionate, personal, witty, unique and easy to eat. It has character and style. Yet thanks to the likes of Heston, home cooks think they have to own a sous-vide machine and a stash of liquid nitrogen to turn out a great dish. His recipe for Black Forest gateau had 37 ingredients and took four days and an array of lab equipment to make – how are we supposed to knock that up after work?”
“Television cooking seems to have evolved into a voyeuristic chemistry lesson, or learning to win at gastronomic Jenga.”
Heston’s exploits are also changing public expectations of restaurant food, Sue believes, in ways that are not always welcome or reasonable.
“Every diner should expect a restaurant meal to be excellent, but it doesn’t need to have been beamed down from the Starship Enterprise,” she said.
“Great, honest food that is true to the chef’s roots and influences is what we really want, but Heston’s approach suggests that simple, passionately produced food is somehow underwhelming. Families have arrived at lovingly cooked meals generation after generation, long before the macho celebrity chef arrived.”
About Sue Nelson B.A. (Hons). M.B.A, F.I.o.D.
Sue is Founder and CEO of Breakthrough Funding, which specialises in getting funding for innovative SMEs. She holds an MBA, is a Tech London Advocate and a Fellow of the Institute of Directors.
She has held senior design, brand and IT communications roles for international companies and PLCs. She has been a Non-Executive member of the Risk Committee of a government department and advised ministers and presented at Select Committees. Formerly CEO of NW Fine Foods, Sue is a published food writer who leads the Tech London Advocates’ Food Tech Group and co-presents The FoodTalk Show.
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