Looking for the ultimate gastro-wedding? We think we've found it when Heston Blumenthal opens Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental, London. We had an exclusive chat with the experimental chef about worms and his own wedding breakfast ahead of the restaurant's January 31 launch.
It's one of the most hotly anticipated restaurant openings in years: Heston Blumenthal's first foray away from Bray in Berkshire (where his three-Michelin star restaurant The Fat Duck calls home) will be a historic moment, in more ways than one. 'The menu will be inspired by historical recipes,' says Heston of his refined British brasserie. 'We've gone back to recipes from Tudor times and being influenced by the creativity and entertainment that they had in some of their dishes. One of our signature dishes will be the Meatfruit, a chicken liver parfait encased in mandarin jelly, actually shaped like a mandarin fruit.'
While the main restaurant will cater for 130 overlooking Hyde Park, there will also be a chic private room, complete with bespoke artwork from hip duo Gilbert & George, that seats just you both and eight lucky wedding guests.
After exchanging vows in the Mandarin's licensed rooms and suites, Blumenthal and executive chef Ashley Palmer-Watts (who also hails from The Fat Duck) will whip up a bespoke menu where he'd like to feature 'big centrepiece dishes' - there will be no need for a flower budget with Heston's intricate food taking centre stage.
The star chef is famed for his unusual combinations often scientific approach to his dishes, such as snail porridge and sardine sorbet, and is currently experimenting with insects - 'I'd have fried mealworms with a beer' - which he predicts to become much more widely eaten if you want to get ahead of the food trends with your canapés! However, his own wedding breakfast was a much more sedate affair 'Marco [Pierre White] did it. We have escabèche of red mullet, chicken and lemon tart - and a croquembouche [a French choux ball tower wedding cake]. I can still remember it clearly even though it was 20-odd years ago.'
And if you can't have Heston cook for your wedding breakfast (or even get a reservation for dinner with your fiancé - it's booked up for months), there's still a chance to enjoy a little Blumenthal magic in the run up to your wedding - he's launching afternoon tea in three months time; the perfect foodie hen party treat. Just don't go expecting scones and cucumber sandwiches...
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal opens at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London on January 31 2011. For reservations and more information call 020 7201 3833 or visit www.dinnerbyheston.com.