Heston Blumenthal
Name: Heston Blumenthal
Hobbies/Interests: cricket, food & drink, science
Endorsements: Waitrose; Walkers - Do Yourself A Flavour
Charities: Epilepsy Action; Willow Foundation

At the age of 16, Heston Blumenthal travelled to France with his family for the first time and became fascinated with the world of food. On his return to the UK, he tried to gain a position in the kitchens of London's hotels and restaurants, but this proved too daunting a task. Unabashed, Heston spent the next decade learning the basics of French cuisine from books and worked in various jobs to fund his research trips to France.

One of the books that most influenced him was On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee, which questioned the fundamental rules of the kitchen and explored the science of cooking.

Heston has been described as a 'culinary alchemist' for his innovative style of cuisine. His work researches the molecular compounds of dishes to enable a greater understanding of taste and flavour. This approach to cooking has earned him many awards as well as recognition from the scientific community, including an Honorary Royal Society of Chemistry Fellowship in July 2006.

Heston Blumenthal is chef-patron of The Fat Duck in Bray, which he opened in 1995 with no financial backing. In 1998, the restaurant gained its first Michelin star; its second came in 2001 and the third in 2004, which it has kept ever since. Heston also owns the Hinds Head Hotel, a village public house, also in Bray, and plans to open a restaurant in London's Mandarin Oriental hotel.

Heston's TV series, In Search of Perfection, in which he applies his trademark scientific, investigative approach to classic dishes, aired in autumn 2006. The second series aired on BBC Two in autumn 2007. Both series were accompanied by cookbooks: In Search of Perfection and Further Adventures in Search of Perfection, respectively. His first book - Family Food - was published in 2004. His latest tome (and his largest yet), the Fat Duck Cook Book, was published in 2008.

In January 2009, Heston appeared in the Channel 4 series Big Chef Takes On Little Chef in a bid to overhaul the ailing motorway eatery chain. Since the programme aired, Heston's prototype for the 'new' Little Chef franchises has been given the green light to be applied nationwide. Heston's Feasts, another Channel 4 production, aired in March 2009.