Heston always said that his TV work should be a tool for research. One of our most iconic dishes came from that very idea. In Heston’s Feasts, he took a trip back in history and created meat fruit, a dish from Tudor times, circa 1500, from the Royal Court of King Henry VIII. For the fun and entertainment of their guests, during huge royal banquets, the chefs would cook minced beef and veal, then they would dip in parsley custard and form it to look like apples.
My journey began when Heston decided to put the meat fruit on the menu at Dinner. Preparing dishes for the restaurant at our standard and at volume is a complexly different challenge. We tried different combinations but settled on a mandarin gel to accompany our chicken liver parfait. So the challenge was to make this little ball actually look like a mandarin orange otherwise it the whole idea would not stand up. Its sounds simple enough now but the time spent on this one dish was crazy. We create the parfait and freeze it in a spherical shaped mould, and then we dip it into the mandarin gel coating it until it has the right coverage. Before serving it we gently shape it from a perfect sphere into a mandarin fruit and top with a leaf for the final touch.
That one dish took months & months to perfect but it was worth it.
Our first trials were very shiny and perfect in their finish and I just was not satisfied that it looked “fruit” enough. I tried many different ways to create that dimpled effect like the orange skin but couldn’t get it. The truth is that it actually came about by accident. We tried hundreds of them and then one day some started to come out with the dimple and other without. Meticulously re-tracing our steps back I discovered it was something to do with those we had frozen, it was something to do with the freezing process. Finally I got the result I knew would work for our customers and also for Heston. That one dish took months and months to perfect but it was worth it. It has become a really iconic part of the Dinner menu and between London and Melbourne we now serve just fewer than 1500 meat fruit a week.