HESTON’S SMOKING HOT!
24 APR 2017
When Heston’s people call your people to invite you round for a barbecue in the funky new garden at his pub The Crown At Bray, you’re not going to say no. Yes it was a bit nippy, all right he was flogging his swanky new barbecues, but as you can imagine, this was no ordinary grill up… This was the pimped up daddy of all barbies.
When I arrive half the garden is swathed in a super-stylish marquee (blasted British weather), there’s a funky outdoor bar and a big open kitchen which is smokin’ as the chefs fire up Heston’s new toys to road test The Crown’s new menu. This is the first time the chefs from all three of Heston’s places have cooked together. And even the guys in charge of The Fat Duck‘s chemistry set seemed to be enjoying it.
We’re used to Heston reinventing the culinary wheel – this is the man who brought us bacon ice cream, snail porridge and we listened to the sound of the sea while eating a fishy foam – now he’s taken on the humble barbecue. What could he possibly do to make it better, sexier, hotter, I hear you cry?
Well as it turns out quite a lot. Working with Aussie specialists Everdure (they know a thing or two about barbecuing), he’s designed five grills (and a load of accessories) for his own range. There’s a dash of innovation, a sprinkling of cool design and a bucketload of functionality.
And I have to say they’re hot! Mr Muddy has his hearts set on one. It’s tapped into his love of fire and design – it’s a bit primal and apparently I wouldn’t understand.
Heston does though. He told me he’s being doing a lot research about evolution. “Human beings became the most ample creatures on the planet because of our ability to imagine things that don’t exist. We were then able to create shared beliefs – like language, money, religion, social media, Harry Potter. The reason we could that is because our brains trebled in size over a period of first standing up and first farming. And the key is cooking. Eating cooked food broke the nutrients down and made it more processable.”
OK, but why is that the boys can’t resist a bit of burger flipping and the girls are prefer lounging, drinking and socialising? I mean, I can work a grill, I’d just rather work a gin and tonic instead (I feel I’ve just taken the feminist cause back five decades. Sorry).
“Cooking food over fire is such a bloke thing,” explains Heston. “We’re simply hanging on to our role in society, being able to cook or burn food on the barbecue – then stand and protect our space.” OK, I still don’t get the caveman thing, but my G&T is getting warm.
So what did I make of them? Well, the range is super-fancy. The sleek, modern designs are made largely from aluminium, a bit pricer than enamelled metal but it means they won’t become a rust bucket over winter. The charcoal grills get my vote. The HUB and FUSION have the Fast Flame Ignition System (with electric starter button), and Everdure claim the coals can be ready to cook on in 10 minutes. Good job really because I’m starving. They also have the rotisserie supports that rise up form the main body. All the mechanics are inside the pillars, so no need to spend hours cleaning the damn thing. Cutest of all is the CUBE range of small, portable charcoal BBQs.
As for the food? It was blinkin’ gorgeous – beef and bacon cheese burger with shoestring potatoes (a Crown classic) was delish, the suckling pig from the spit roast slammed into brioche buns with BBQ sauce and kimchi coleslaw was excellent. Finished off with a piece of pud heaven in the form of spit roasted pineapple and salted caramel popcorn ice cream was heaven. I’ll definitely be trying it at home.
The Everdure by Heston Blumenthal range is not cheap. Prices starts at £149 for the CUBE to £1499 for the HUB. But the charcoal grills are a game changer. The range has just launched in the UK and is available at John Lewis. Power up the sun, put the rosé on ice, I just need to stop burning bangers.