Being a keen cook at home I was thrilled to be offered the chance to attend a ‘Cook Like Heston’ class at Nelson and Colne College.
I don’t profess to be the next winner of MasterChef, in fact my skills are more ‘suck it and see’ than ‘super skilled’ but I relished the opportunity to learn more about the science behind some of the food we eat and learn a few tricks to try at home.
The course was led by chef Mark Taft, who has worked alongside Heston Blumenthal in his development kitchen and brought some of the magic to Nelson and Colne College to share his secrets with students.
The course started with the preparation of an artichoke soup, chopping, slicing and frying. Nothing too out of the ordinary there. We then moved on to the shellfish bisque which involved bashing the hell out of a bunch of prawns; quite exciting but not very sophisticated.
I began to get interested at the mention of a gelatine powder made from seaweed that has to be measured 0.03 grams per gram of liquid. This was to be used to turn the bisque into a cube to be coated with gold leaf. Mark then showed us how to create a sweet fried egg, made using coconut paste and mango puree piped onto a metal plate suspended over a container full of liquid nitrogen. “This is more like it,” I thought.
We went on to prepare beer and vodka battered fish with triple cooked chips, a chocolate sponge cake that cooks in 15 seconds in a microwave and one of Heston Blumenthal’s signature dishes – bacon and egg ice cream using more liquid nitrogen.
All the dishes we helped to prepare were presented at the end of the day in a fantastic six-course meal with the Jerusalem artichoke soup accompanied by an Alice in Wonderland inspired Eat Me-Drink Me truffle jelly served on a bed of steaming moss, infusing the air with the scent of the forest as its centrepiece.