Chef who created snail porridge cooks up bangers and mash for his television debut

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The Independent Online

Heston Blumenthal, the culinary pioneer whose most famous dish is snail porridge, is to join the ranks of the celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsay and Delia Smith by fronting a prime-time television series.

Rather than teach the public how to make his signature experimental dishes, such as green tea and lime mousse in liquid nitrogen, the chef will opt for more popular fare for a BBC2 show this summer.

He will apply his scientific approach, known as "molecular gastronomy" (a term he dislikes), to well-known dishes such as fish and chips and bangers and mash. A recipe at the end of each show of the series - Perfection: Heston Blumenthal - will explain how to cook the dish at home.

Blumenthal, who runs the Fat Duck in Bray, Oxfordshire, said: "It's the Fat Duck approach but adapted to everyday dishes. We haven't necessarily gone for the most expensive ingredients but expense is not a consideration. If people can't get part of the equipment then we have found an alternative."

Blumenthal, one of a trio of British chefs with three Michelin stars, believes the series will spread his scientific approach and safeguard his financial future. A book accompanying the series is likely to sell well.

Like Jamie Oliver's Italy series for Channel 4, Blumenthal travelled with a film crew to France, Germany, Italy and the United States. But he had to do so before he had a risky "spinal fusion" operation in November that was to end decades of crippling back pain. After months recuperating, the 39-year-old chef is scheduled to finish the eight-part series in the studio by the end of next month.

Due for broadcast in August, the show features six savoury dishes: fish and chips, bangers and mash, spaghetti bolognese, pizza, steak and salad, and roast chicken and potato; and two desserts: treacle tart and Black Forest gateau.

For each dish, Blumenthal examined the properties of the individual ingredients, and investigated how to prepare and cook them.

His research on pizza took him to Naples, where he saw how the pizza flour was made in a flourmill, tested the gluten in the dough, checked levels of pectin in the tomatoes and the temperature of the ovens. For the perfect pizza, his search took him to a New York strip joint, the Penthouse Executive Club, reputed to serve the best steak in the world.

He said: "We had this bizarre evening where we were eating steak with women taking their clothes off in the background. It was the best steak I have had."

For the Black Forest gateau, the chef went to Germany and had a perfumer recreate the smell of kirsch. To create the best fish and chips, he tested 25 varieties of potato. The bangers and mash programme involved a trip to a pig farm in Northumberland. Although well known to foodies, the show will raise the public profile of Blumenthal, whose most high-profile television work was a five-minute slot on BBC2's Full On Food last year.

He filmed a series, Kitchen Chemistry, for the Discovery satellite channel five years ago but said he considered Perfection to be his first proper television series.

He said he wanted to share his "child-like inquisitiveness" about food to a wider audience, and to make some money. "Margins at the Fat Duck are so tight," he said. "After the third Michelin star and Restaurant of the Year I thought I wanted to get some financial security for my family without losing my integrity and hopefully this will achieve that."

Recipes for television success

Delia Smith

A shy cookery writer, this matronly brunette taught the nation to cook with a series of easy-to-understand shows with such names as How To Cook.

Jamie Oliver

Essex boy Oliver's laddish approach to food on his show The Naked Chef led to greater fame and a TV campaign to make children eat healthily - Jamie's School Dinners.

Rick Stein

Stein's passion for fish is reflected in the success of his foodie empire in Padstow and in the fishy theme of his shows, which have included A Taste of the Sea .

Gordon Ramsay

The foul-mouthed Scot has become arguably Britain's most famous culinary TV presence, perhaps best known for the ITV reality show Hell's Kitchen.

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