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The Big Fat Duck Cookbook Hardcover – 20 Oct 2008
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""The Big Fat Duck Cookbook" is the biggest (10 pounds with box), the most expensive ($250) and the most flamboyant (four brightly colored silk marker ribbons, uncountable full-page color illustrations and gatefolds, mainly caricatures of Mr. Blumenthal gliding through a dreamland of foods) cookbook in a bumper year. But like its author, who turns out to be a clear and even affecting writer, there is gravity holding the rocket in orbit. In the back, you will find deadly serious essays on such matters as the effect of heat on meat protein or "ice cream science," by himself and his entourage of university food scientists along with detailed rundowns on new kitchen tools such as refractometers. But all of this is stagesetting and infrastructure for the recipes with the wacko names, the sci-fi techniques and the eureka tastes and flavors... Makes you want to call Bray immediately to get a table at the earliest opportunity, which is two months from now. Meanwhile, there's the book." - "Wall Street Journal"""The Big Fat Duck Cookbook" is itself a work of art, combing a luxurious package with striking page layouts and artwork. Its recipes are almost the least of its appeal: Blumenthal's accompanying essays are the meat of the text and make for a fascinating 500 pages of reading." - "Metroland "(Albany, NY) "I have never been so captivated, visually, by a cookbook (my own books excluded, of course), primarily by the illustrations, the playfulness of them, the exuberance of spirit they convey. A brilliant move to include these. The food photography is stunning, I think, because it's so big and Blumenthal's food is so dramatic... Huge congratulations to Blumenthal and his team for this overthe top, way over the top, effort." - Michael Ruhlman
""The Big Fat Duck Cookbook" is the biggest (10 pounds with box), the most expensive ($250) and the most flamboyant (four brightly colored silk marker ribbons, uncountable full-page color illustrations and gatefolds, mainly caricatures of Mr. Blumenthal gliding through a dreamland of foods) cookbook in a bumper year. But like its author, who turns out to be a clear and even affecting writer, there is gravity holding the rocket in orbit. In the back, you will find deadly serious essays on such matters as the effect of heat on meat protein or "ice cream science," by himself and his entourage of university food scientists along with detailed rundowns on new kitchen tools such as refractometers. But all of this is stagesetting and infrastructure for the recipes with the wacko names, the sci-fi techniques and the eureka tastes and flavors... Makes you want to call Bray immediately to get a table at the earliest opportunity, which is two months from now. Meanwhile, there's the book." - "W
'fascinating... full of philosophy, autobiography, cooking techniques, essays on the science of cooking. And the recipes!'See all Product description
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Top customer reviews
The true value of this book is in the feelings and the enthusiasm that it generates. You need to look to the detail and start with manageable steps. I made the pistachio scrambled egg today. I don't have a 600 pound heatable blender, but inventiveness is a key part of cookery and the feeling of achievement at pulling off a simple part of a dish is an important stepping stone towards achieving something memorable.
Most importantly, every time I look in the book I feel excited and motivated to experiment and push my own limits. So what will you do with this book? If Heston Blumenthal knocked on your door a year from now, do you want him to see it in pristine condition, sitting on the coffee table, or propped up in the kitchen, slightly the worse for wear but obviously loved and used? For me, I choose the latter.
Yes, these recipes require planning, a touch of compromise and some research. But you also feel you achieve something. Now, what shall I try next?
It is a truely huge volume and comes in a case. As you would expect from Heston in a cook who shows no compromise the book is of an equally high quality. The books hard cover is beautifully finished and embossed in silver with the Fat Duck Restaurant motifs. The pages are the thickest paper bordering on card and embossed with silver. Mutiple bookmarks add to the extravagant feel of this tomb. There are beautiful abstract drawings throughout the book which at times make it feel more like a work of art than a cookbook and perhaps that is the point. There is of course alot of detail about Hestons life and inspiration not just recipes in this book.
The recipes on which he has built his reputation are all here and laid bare in all there frightening complexity. Snail Porridge, Bacon and Egg Ice cream and Gold, Frankisence and Myrrh all lovingly detailed.
The problem with this book of course is that for most home cooks it is a step too far in complexity. I have managed to cook recipes from Essence: Recipes from Le Champignon Sauvage,The French Laundry Cookbook and Recipes from a 3 Star Chef without too much problem but the shear complexity of Hestons recipes is in another league.
The problems are two fold. Firstly obtaining some ingredients will be tricky. Liquid nitrogen for example will not be readily available to most of us.
Ingredients aside however the main problem for me is the number of components to each dish. It is not an exageration to say that most dishes have in excess of 15 components to them. Some as many as 20. That is not ingredients that is parts. i.e. 15 separate bits to make, each of which has multiple ingredients. Clearly it is impossible for 1 or even 2 chefs to do this regardless of skill. A brigade is really needed. If you therefore want to recreate his recipes at home you are going to have to leave some bits out. I am therefore a little disappointed but this is not really disappointment in the book for Heston has told me in fantastic detail how to recreate his recipes I just am unable to faithfully do it!
Despite this I love the book but it has served to make me realise that regardless of skill there are some things which you can't cook at home but as this is the second best restaurant in the world I really shouldn't be surprised!
The book has three sections. The first, "History", covers the story of Blumenthal and the Fat Duck. Strangely, whilst the index lists significant moments in the story, they are not given headings in the essay itself. The second is titled "Recipes" and contains 30 dishes from the restaurant's degustation menu and 15 dishes from the à la carte menu. The final section, "Science", is a collection of 25 essays on the science of food. Curiously, the table of contents is on a foldout page in the middle of the book.
People may find the book to be prohibitively expensive. It is a very large volume, and not something that you can lie in bed to read. The table of contents is a fold out page in the middle of the book, which makes it irritating to use. Some readers will look at the size of the text and ask themselves, "Why?". Finally, I think the production values of the book will divide opinion, so there will be people who feel that the entire package to be self-indulgent.
People with an interest in the cutting edge techniques, ingredients, and equipment being applied to cooking, and those who want an insight into how a chef creates a new dish will find plenty of enjoyment in this book. I feel this is a vastly superior book to the Alinea or el Bulli cookbooks simply due to the explanations that Blumenthal provides. The Fat Duck Cookbook will also find a home with those who simply want to read an entertaining story about a chef and his work. For those who are looking to cook something for dinner, you're better off looking elsewhere.
Thank you my lovely wife great choice..
It is a piece of art, a joke, a collector's item and a coffee table book at the same time.
Honestly, I was mouthwatering when I saw this book at a friend's place. The silver embossed thick pages, the astonishing photos, and the incredible pieces of culinary art by Heston Blumental.
But I am happy that I got it for my birthday and didn't pay for it myself.
When you are looking for a cookbook, buy something else. But when you are looking for a special foody treat: you will treat yourself to something unique with this book.