For the past two years, British celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal has been preparing food he would never consider serving in his restaurant.
These latest dishes, Blumenthal says, are also some of the most difficult he’s ever made. And the most expensive.
Blumenthal has been cooking for an astronaut. European Space Agency astronaut Tim Peak, who’s currently living on the International Space Station, to be precise.
And during his 6-month stay aboard the ISS, Peak is enjoying world-class meals prepared specially for him by Blumenthal. The meals took two years to prepare and perfect, and tens of millions of dollars to launch into space.
Before Peak went to space, he and Chef Blumenthal spent a lot of time together discussing the different foods Peak wanted to eat during his stay, The Guardian reported in its excellent write-up of Blumenthal’s full experience.
One such meal was a simple bacon sandwich. This sandwich would turn out to be the bane of Blumenthal’s entire project.
‘It all had to go in a can’
Apparently, building a bacon sandwich for space is far more difficult than making sausages, mashed potatoes, Thai red curry, and even key lime pie — just a few of the other tasty items on Peak’s dinner menu.
Part of the problem was the packaging process, Blumenthal told The Guardian:
“The bacon, the bread, the butter, everything — it all had to go in a can.”
Another issue with the bacon sandwich was the cooking process. Space agencies are very particular about the food their astronauts eat — their main concern being harmful bacteria that could make one sick.
To make sure foods are as safe as possible, Blumenthal had to cook his bacon sandwich — along with all of the other meals he made for Peak — at 140 degrees for two straight hours before sending them to space.
Needless to say, your standard strips of bacon weren’t going to cut it under those harsh baking conditions.
In the end, Blumenthal employed the help of sous chefs at the canning factory in France who were in charge of packaging his products for space.
After endless tests, this was the final product, as described by The Guardian’s Tom Lamont who got to taste one:
“It was made with dense, sticky brown bread, tough lobes of bacon placed between grouting-like layers of a thick lard-like butter. It was small — about the shape and thickness of a Starbucks coffee lid. I was allowed to try one. Heavy work on the jaw. Definitely a tang of the supermarket BLT.”
“But honestly pretty good,” Lamont wrote.
Blumenthal chronicles his two-year experience cooking for an astronaut in a recent Channel 4 documentary.
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