'How to cook like Heston' challenge: Neil Hennessy-Vass

Updated on 11 January 2012 | 0 Comments

Last week while watching `how to cook like Heston', we put the challenge out to find people who would actually attempt the recipes. Well the first results are in

So who watched ‘how to cook like Heston’ on Channel 4? Well we did, and found ourselves thinking 'would anyone actually try to cook these recipes? So we put the challenge out to our twitter followers to find willing volunteers. This would prove that the delightful Mr B’s techniques are achievable in a normal domestic kitchen by an average person. Fiona Maclean attempted the chilli con carne with cornbread muffins, you can read her exploits here. Meanwhile Neil Hennessy-Vass and Qin Xie (you can see her report here) bravely accepted the challenge to cook steak 'like Heston'. Here's how Neil go on.

Neil Hennessy-Vass

To volunteer is I think, really to put oneself in the firing line of, well a firing squad.  I had decided to accept the challenge laid out by Lovefood.com in an honest and straightforward way that you do until you have read the small print.  I was originally going to cook Heston’s Chilli Con Carne until I read the list of ingredients and the three individual components to be made.  I quickly opted to go for the Italian Steak – I can hear the rifle breaches being loaded.  Incidentally I counted up the number of ingredients to create the chilli, butter and cornbread muffins and including salt and pepper it came to 40!


rawSo off I went and bought my sirloin from the deli counter at Sainsburys and placed it on a rack in my fridge for the next 48 hours.  I’m not sure if this made a tremendous difference but it certainly came out nice and dry and ready to cook.  I followed all the instructions to the letter and the result was (not my words, but my wife’s) fantastic.  The lemon content of the dressing is crucial here I think, as it would be so easy to under do it.  I’m not a great fan of rocket but with rosemary, garlic and lemon dressing it worked a treat – really bouncing off the peppery rocket.  The Parmesan would also have been missed if not there, it brought a nice sour length with the sweet beef.

A complete meal

OilThe cooking and prep for this was fairly straightforward – timing of the meat is as usual critical but not hard to master.  The one thing I noticed was how messy it is to cook with oil that is smoking.  The steaks spat and spluttered. The whole hob needed a good clean afterwards (you don’t get to see the grease on TV!)  Another point worth mentioning is that we had no side dishes with it and yet we felt replete afterwards, so excluding potatoes etc. probably makes this a fairly healthy plate of food.  

I would certainly cook this dish again as it’s on the right side of achievable and has a fairly simple structure and ingredients list.  Some of Heston’s recipes (even the home ones) are very complicated, which is why he is a three-starred Michelin chef and most of us aren’t. 

crustThis is certainly something worth trying although on a negative note my wife did think that creating a crust on the outside of the beef was not to her liking, my view was that it added a needed bit of texture and contrast.  So all you aspirational cooks out there, get ready, take aim and fire up your hob!

Want to join in?

Many thanks to Neil and it seems that Heston's advice really works. If you want to join in just pick a recipe from the show, attempt it, and let us know how you got on by sending some pics and a few 100 words to ‘contactus@lovefood.com’.

More from Heston

Heston triumphs in mince pie test 

Ashley Palmer-Watts: Heston's protégé's life in food

Best of three: Smoked salmon


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