Next month the School of Advanced Study will award Heston Blumenthal the degree of Doctor of Science honoris causa, in recognition of his pioneering research and achievements. For this year’s Annual Review (published next week) we talked to the innovative chef about his multi-sensory approach to cooking.
Heston Blumenthal is well known for his television appearances, cookbooks, and as the owner of The Fat Duck, one of only four restaurant in the UK to have been awarded a three Michelin stars. In our interview it became clear just how fascinated Heston is with how we experience food and just how much he sees his research into the senses as the basis for his cooking.
“we eat with all of our senses, particularly memory (…) It’s probably been one of the biggest backbones of my cooking”
His approach fits neatly with the mission set for the School of Advanced Study as a foci point for collaborative and interdisciplinary research in the arts and humanities. Indeed, recently Heston has been working with the Institute of Philosophy’s CenSes project as part of a collaborative venture investigating the interconnectedness of our senses and how they impact on our lives. The Centre for the Study of the Senses combines researchers as diverse as philosophy, psychology, neuroscience and anthropology with experts in practical fields such as cookery; with the aim of uncovering a coherent framework that understands how different senses contribute to our perception of the environment and an awareness of ourselves.
This is no new thing for Heston. Over the years he has teamed up with scientists in an attempt to explore how the world is all “taste and flavour perception”. It would be fair to say that Heston is an experimenter, someone who thinks deeply about his trade and explores what it really means to be a chef. He wants to understand how we experience food and integrate that knowledge into his cooking. The award of an honoris causa degree that recognises Heston’s dedication to collaborative and interdisciplinary research, is therefore no small achievement on his part, and an award that SAS are very pleased to be able to offer.
You can read the in-depth interview with Heston Blumenthal and a sum up of other exciting events that have been happening within the School this year in our Annual Review 2013, which is now available online and in print.
For further details about the CenSes Project take a look at the Institute of Philosophy website.
Image: Heston Blumenthal (©Alisa Connan)