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Heston Blumenthal

Britain’s food revolution: ten ways of eating differently

Heston Blumenthal was named chef of the decade in the 10th annual Observer Food Monthly Awards last week. The Guardian reflects on 10 years in which the British food revolution came of age.

1 LOCAL GOES GLOBAL

We always knew there was something unsettling about eating asparagus at Christmas, runner beans flown from Chile, the never-ending supply of supermarket blueberries. But for many of us it took chefs to make us think.

2 BLOGGERS

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WordPress: the explosion of social media and smartphones has made everyone a food expert.

3 FORGOTTEN FOODS

A decade ago we seemed to be facing a future with only a few varieties of apples, potatoes or flavour-free, fat-free pigs. Now, thanks to farmers’ markets – and supermarkets – the forgotten breeds are back.

4 ROCK STAR CHEFS

Starting in 2002, the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards has made rock stars out of top chefs and helped many others carve out a good living. Dominated in its first decade by Spain’s Ferran Adrià at El Bulli and Denmark’s René Redzepi at Noma, the British-based award has overtaken Michelin as an arbitrary arbiter of taste.

5 A NASTY TASTE

2013 saw the return of foot and mouth, a hammer blow to farmers. Promises were made of support for farmers and on traceability for consumers. With beef, at least, we would know where the carcasses came from – or so we thought until this year when many supermarket, school and hospital meals were found to contain horsemeat.

6 MEAT ON THE STREET

Ten years ago street food was still largely limited to hot dog stands selling stinky late-night sausages and onions for clubbers too stoned or hungry to much care. Now those days seem as far away as a sepia Hovis ad.

7 RAMSAY: FALL AND RISE

Although he first appeared on TV screens at the turn of the century, it was in 2004’s Kitchen Nightmares that Ramsay first made an impact outside the world of fine dining. Soon there were more shouty shows, more books, more restaurants, more Michelin stars, more strange rumours about money. But his fall was as rapid…

8 GROWING OUR OWN

A decade ago allotments, along with the mostly old men who worked them, were in danger of dying. Suddenly, a new breed of grower arrived, as likely to grow organic oriental kale or corn as cabbages and leeks. Waiting lists grew. Allotment columns appeared in posh papers.

9 FOOD BANK BRITAIN

The Red Cross has announced it is to distribute food aid in Britain for the first time since the Second World War, while between April and September this year the Trussell Trust distributed food to more than 350,000 people, including 120,000 children – a rise of 300% on 2012.

10 THE BEST OF BRITISH

When Heston Blumenthal won the first Observer Food Monthly Award for Best Restaurant for the Fat Duck in 2003 he was facing bankruptcy. His scientific approach to food was regarded as blasphemy by chefs and mistrusted by the public, who weren’t sure they wanted to eat snail porridge anyway. Fast-forward 10 years and many of the techniques he pioneered are commonplace in professional kitchens. Perhaps more than anyone he has put Britain on the global food map.

The Guardian: Read the full article

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