With celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal turning 50 on May 27, his loved ones might find it hard to wrap his favorite thing on earth: knowledge. “I love learning,” he told WHO in March. “I love discovering. I love invention. I love playfulness."
So passionate is the OBE recipient and three-starred Michelin chef that when he was “lucky enough” to have a coat of arms offered by the Royal College of Arms, “it took me seven years to do it,” said Blumenthal. “And my motto on there—you can choose it in Latin or English—is ‘Question Everything.’”
Despite the milestone birthday, the fan of “dirty old cheap prawn cocktail in a tub” says “my publicist always describes me as being like a ten-year-old. I have none of the barriers of adulthood in learning—I have no intimidation about asking questions.” He’s had, he said, “lots of accidents, silly accidents. I’m always being told, ‘Indoor walking, no running with scissors.’”
Away from the stove, Blumenthal has raised three kids to adulthood and honed his expert ski skills over his 50 years. “I’ve changed a lot,” he told WHO. “I wasn’t very good at my own company before, I always had to be doing something. I always used to say I was driven by fear of failure—now failure is fantastic. Fear of failure means you don’t express yourself.”
Getting older means he’s also sleeping more than two hours a night—now, “I might get five or six hours,” he said. “I’m starting after 20 years to cherry-pick projects.” He’s been rewriting the General Certificate of Secondary Education for food and nutrition in the UK, and last year moved the Fat Duck to Melbourne for six months while his flagship home restaurant was renovated.
What has he learned over his half-decade of pushing himself out of his comfort zone? “It sounds a bit poncy,” he said to WHO, but “The great thing is if you can find yourself in a state of real and utter happiness, everything you’ve done in your life, everything you’ve experienced and reacted to—good or bad—has got you to that point. So I learned nothing is bad.”