My Secret Life: Heston Blumenthal, chef, 43

Author: Interview by Charlotte Philby

The house/flat I grew up in … was off the Edgware Road in west
London. There was a police station near our house; a gang of us would jump
over the fence and break into the garden. Inevitably, a policeman would
catch us, clip us around the ear and send us home. When I was a child I
wanted to be … I thought about being an architect but got nowhere near the
necessary school qualifications; aged 15, I decided to cook.

If I could change one thing about myself I’d be able to say, ‘No’.
When it comes to my work I’m completely assertive, but in other areas, I’m
not.

You wouldn’t know it but I’m very good at … I’m not a bad artist and
I kickboxed quite seriously for years.

You may not know it but I’m no good at …golf, though I do enjoy the
odd game. At night I dream of … I do have vivid dreams, though when I try
to explain them I’m like: ‘I was on a boat, oh no, it was a mountain,
actually it was a banana…’ But these are rare. I store up my dreams for
ages then a ‘Lord of the Rings’-style whopper emerges.

What I see when I look in the mirror … It depends. Either somebody
quite pleased with his lot or someone with self-loathing.

My favourite item of clothing … I just had my very first suit made
for me. It is a dark grey, single-buttoned suit, made by a tailor on Savile
Row. The fitting took place two and half years ago, during which time I lost
two and a half stone. It reminds me of my first two-tone suit, which was
advertised in ‘NME’.

I drive … a BMW M5.

My house is … modern, comfortable, spacious, within walking distance
of our nearby town. It has a big garden and plenty of privacy ? and a nice
big mortgage attached.

My favourite work of art … is ‘Fried Egg on the Plate Without the
Plate’ by Salvador Dali.

A book that changed me … ‘On Food and Cooking’ by Harold McGee. I
read it in 1985 and it defined my unconventional approach to cooking. I
wasn’t inquisitive before that.

Movie heaven … ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’. Just for the gunfight
scene at the end between Charles Bronson and Henry Fonda.

The last album I bought … is by Joey Negro & the Sunshine Band,
which has a Seventies/ Eighties funk-disco sound.

The person who really makes me laugh … is Sacha Baron Cohen. He makes
my stomach, throat and jaw hurt.

My secret crush … Farrah Fawcett.

My greatest regret … I started collecting wine at the age of 20, and
had around 500 bottles, which I later had to flog to fund my first
restaurant.

My real-life villain … I get cross with people sitting on the middle
lane of the motorway when the inside lane is empty.

The last time I cried … I had a lump in my throat when I received an
honorary doctorate from the University of Reading.

My five-year plan … is to balance my work and family life. I missed
the early years of my kids’ lives and now they’re getting to an age when
they don’t want to be with their folks all of the time.

What’s the point? If everybody said that then nobody would achieve
anything.

My life in six words … Never enough time in the day.

A life in brief

Born in London on 27 May 1966, Heston Blumenthal is a three-Michelin-starred
chef renowned for his unconventional cooking methods. At his award-winning
Fat Duck restaurant in Berkshire, signature dishes include scrambled egg and
bacon ice-cream and Mock Turtle soup. He lives in Marlow, Bucks, with his
wife Zanna and their three children. The Fat Duck Cook Book is published by
Bloomsbury, £35

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