Heston Blumenthal, the English celebrity chef famous for his restaurant The Fat Duck recently sat down with Emily Bamber from The Daily Telegraph to chat about travelling and food.
Heston opened up about his favourite city and place to stay, the airline he prefers to use and his tendency to irritate flight attendants. He also had a bit of travel advice for future jet-setters.
How often do you travel?
A lot at the moment for work, but I’ve had a few holidays in between. Earlier this year we moved The Fat Duck restaurant to Melbourne, which will be there through mid-August while the restaurant in Bray is being rebuilt.
So last year I travelled to Australia five times planning for the opening of the restaurant. The Fat Duck in Bray reopens this September, but in October I’ll go back to Melbourne to open Dinner with Heston Blumenthal.
I also might go to South Africa later this year.
What do you need for a perfect holiday?
I like to eat good food, drink nice wine and exercise a lot.
As long as I have my wallet, passport, credit card, telephone and computer with me, I’m fine being anywhere. It’s also really important that I have my prescription sunglasses – shades over spectacles is not a good look.
Your earliest memory of travelling abroad?
A trip to South Africa when I was 11. I was on a safari break at Kruger National Park and stayed in a straw hut – everything was very basic back then.
Your best holiday ever?
I love skiing and my favourite resort is Courmayeur in Italy.
It’s a pretty town, the people are friendly and they serve the sort of hearty food you’d want to eat on a mountain.
I was there earlier this year for the Mountain Gourmet Ski Experience with Sat Bains and Marcus Wareing. We stayed at the Auberge de la Maison and the Grand Hotel Royale Golf.
I was there mostly for work but it was one of the best ski breaks I’d ever had and I laughed so much that I lost my voice.
Most relaxing holiday?
In March, Suzanne [Pirret, his partner] and I spent six days in The Philippines. We stayed at the Amanpulo resort. The weather was just right and I went running around the island every day.
I can tell I’ve relaxed when my mind starts opening up and the creative juices start to flow.
At the moment it’s Crown Towers in Melbourne. It’s unbelievably well run and although there are casinos it’s nothing like Las Vegas; you won’t walk out of the restaurant and be led straight into the casino area.
The Mandarin Oriental in Paris is great, too.
If you want Zen, purist food the best cities for it are Tokyo and Kyoto.
For quality casual dining, New York, London, Melbourne and Sydney are the best cities. There are so many great little restaurants in Melbourne that you could eat out for a month and not visit the same place twice.
Melbourne is such a vibrant city, with beautiful beaches, keen food lovers and amazing ingredients. Whenever I land there, I feel I can breathe.
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I keep going back to Riva, set down the road from where I live in Barnes. Andrea [ the owner] is brilliant and whenever I go in there it’s like being wrapped up in a warm blanket.
Favourite airport food?
I don’t have pre-flight meals because I always eat on the plane. But if I did, I’d have pizza at the Perfectionists Cafe at Heathrow Terminal 2. It has a wood oven, hoping to serve Naples-style quality pizza.
The fish and chips there are also great and they do a fantastic breakfast. It’s set in a really cool space with a liquid nitrogen ice-cream machine.
I love long-haul flights. I’m like a big kid – I don’t want to sleep because there are too many things I could do. I work, eat, drink and watch films.
Sometimes, if I get on with the cabin crew, I’ll be a real pain and go into the kitchen to see how my steak is being cooked.
Pound for pound, Singapore Airlines is one of the best – their first class suites have doors and beds.
The food served in first class with Qantas Airlines is really good. Chef Neil Perry has created a brilliant menu. The Qantas lounge in Sydney has a proper kitchen that is manned by his personal staff.
Worst travel experience?
I went skiing in Slovenia with my son when Heathrow Terminal 5 just opened and it was having a lot baggage issues.
My son’s case arrived, but mine didn’t, so I ended up having to buy a purple one-piece ski suit from one of the airport shops. That was pretty memorable.
What do you hate about travelling?
The small annoyances, such as when the heating is turned up on night flights or when your overhead locker is full of someone else’s stuff.
I enjoy long-haul flights more, as I’m usually lucky enough to get good seats, but short-haul flights can be awful. Bad service also really gets to me.
Best piece of travel advice?
Always put your watch and your mind on the time of the country you are flying to.
Try to get a night flight and when you arrive, do some exercise. If you’re not into exercising, then walk for an hour; just make sure you get some air and see the light of day.
The team and I will move The Fat Duck back to Bray in August. It’ll have a new kitchen and we’re taking out seats, going down to 40 covers.
I can’t tell you more, but there will be something new that envelops the whole experience. The reopening of The Fat Duck will be the single biggest thing I have ever done. It’ll actually be more nerve-wracking for me than moving the whole thing to Australia and back.
Visit your local Flight Centre or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest travel deals.
The Fat Duck restaurant in Melbourne will be open until August 16.
This article was written by Interview by Emily Bamber from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.