Few would dare to send back a Heston Blumenthal culinary creation. But a Maidenhead Synagogue group did just that after the three-starred Michelin chef mixed milk and meat in a recipe for a fundraising cookbook.
Blumenthal — whose acclaimed restaurant The Fat Duck is in nearby Bray —- delivered a lecture about his cookery career at the shul last year, impressing his audience not only by the talk but by staying on for an hour to chat individually to members about many things food-related.
Thus, the Maidenhead team compiling the cookbook thought it would be nice to add a Blumenthal recipe to the 100-plus submitted by congregants of the Reform community, ranging from “Jewish-style artichokes” to “secret strudel”.
Although the chef happily obliged, the problem was that Parmesan shavings were an integral part of his beef tagliata.
But after the difficulty was explained to Blumenthal by Maidenhead’s Rabbi Jonathan Romain — whose latke recipe features in the book — an acceptable alternative of mushroom risotto was proffered.
“Heston was a little surprised,” reported David Sommer, who headed the cook-book team.
“We were saying to him: ‘That’s not good enough. Can we have another?’ But he was good humoured about it all.”
The initial print run of 250 sold out in three weeks and more copies of the cookbook will be made available to meet demand.
Although proceeds will help to improve facilities at the synagogue cheder, Mr Sommer said an important element of the initiative was making traditional recipes available to a wider audience.
A number of the inclusions were accompanied by “wonderful stories and anecdotes”.