Heston Blumenthal Does Avocados
As with any piece of fresh produce he turns his hand to, you fear Heston Blumenthal is in danger of making the avocado a rather complex beast.
The owner of London restaurant Dinner – named at the end of April as number five in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list – Heston is renowned for a brand of food fanaticism and innovation that at times, belies the simplicity of some of his ingredients.
“I think if you look at the core of ingredients it is all very simple. Yes, in the lab and in the kitchen we’ll add all manner of treatments, but at the heart of it we’re dealing with the same raw materials as anyone else. What we’re exploiting, and what any good home or professional chef should look to exploit, is colour, flavour, texture… those sorts of things. That’s where the magic comes from.”
Can the same be said of the avocado?
“Oh definitely,” Heston fires back. “It’s potentially one of the most versatile pieces of produce you can have. I’m not sure it has ever been better received – I think people used to think avocado was a bit bland, but probably backed by its health benefits, it’s now taking on something of a new persona.
“Think about starters, think about sides, think about snacks – I’ve mixed avocado with marmite to use the texture of one with the taste of another.”
Blumenthal has a few other tips on how best to go about incorporating the fruit into any meal that you are preparing. The first thing to remember, he says, is that avocado comes as a blank canvas and can be used as such. “It’s also one of those unique foods that can be used at any time of the day.”
“I think people believe my use of avocado will always be something really ambitious, but it doesn’t need to be. Exploit the texture if you don’t want to do too much with the taste.”
Blumenthal also puts avocado into drink form, using it as a core ingredient in smoothies.
“I do make avocado smoothies, and they’re delicious. And so simple as well. You can add any type of seasoning or flavour you want – pepper, spice, whatever – and it’s such a healthy snack at any time of the day. And yes, it can go into desserts as well. I made avocado rice, adding caster sugar and vanilla. Add lemon juice and whipped cream and you can serve with a sweet. Try it!”
Heston, regarded as the most innovative and creative of British chefs, is bringing his wares to these shores, with a restaurant project kicking off in Melbourne atCrown. He is a culinary scientist, a gastronomical genius whose thrill comes from implementing unusual flavours and combinations, with multi-sensory cooking driving a passion to entertain.
“I think we all want to entertain with our food, and so much of that is about discovering new foods and really exploiting what they have. Consider using an avocado as an alternative to something else – that’s when you really begin to learn about food, and when people are really impressed with what you’re offering. For instance, avocado makes a simple replacement for butter. Different texture, different layer of flavour, but still with a core creaminess. It’s all about being expressive, and ambitious.”
Photo credit: Alisa Connan