Waitrose axes Heston Blumenthal – with a broadside at his ‘unpredictability’ after bosses at the supermarket tired of working with the ‘distant’ chef
- Waitrose has decided to quietly drop the veteran chef after a 12-year partnership
- Insiders say that the lustre has now gone from Heston Blumenthal’s creations
His dishes are a hit with families looking to indulge at Christmas.
But in the next festive season there will be no new Heston Blumenthal twists on the classics – at least not at Waitrose.
The supermarket has decided to quietly drop the chef after a 12-year partnership which saw him starring in TV adverts and helping boost sales. One year, his orange Christmas pudding was so popular that it was being put up for sale online at 15 times its retail price after it sold out in shops. But insiders say that the lustre has now gone from his creations and the supermarket plans to focus on its own-brand premium range, Waitrose No.1.
His contract, which is worth ‘hundreds of thousands of pounds a year’, ends this month and it is understood that Waitrose management have chosen not to renew it. Behind the scenes, the parting is being likened to a divorce – with bosses at the supermarket chain apparently tiring of Blumenthal’s ‘unpredictability’. A source said: ‘The hope was that the contract would end and nobody would really notice until later in the year when the dust has settled and things aren’t so raw.
Heston Blumenthal, 56, moved to France in 2019 a year after having a child with French estate agent Stephanie Gouveia, 35 (left)
‘The potential for a small number of products to come back or stay on was talked about. But really that is like the lover ending the partnership and saying: we should stay in touch, with no intention of doing so.
‘This isn’t a romance that is going to be rekindled.’
The source added: ‘In reality, the relationship has run its course. It has been a huge success, but sometimes you have to call it a day. He was unpredictable, and – to keep the relationship analogy – too distant.’
The 56-year-old moved to France in 2019 a year after having a child with French estate agent Stephanie Gouveia, 35. But last month it emerged the chef, who also has three grown-up children with ex-wife Zanna, is now engaged to French businesswoman Melanie Ceysson.
The Heston from Waitrose range was initially focused on Christmas food, and his most famous creation was the Hidden Orange pudding.
It sold out within days when it first went on sale in 2010 and families subsequently offered to pay as much as £200 online for the £13.99 dessert.
Last year’s offerings also included three-bird pigs in blankets – sausages containing chicken, pheasant and duck as well as pork.
The TV chef first came to prominence due to unlikely-sounding dishes such as snail porridge, as well as egg and bacon ice cream.
The Heston from Waitrose range was initially focused on Christmas food, and his most famous creation was the Hidden Orange pudding
He is the proprietor of The Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire, which holds three Michelin stars, and the two-starred London restaurant Dinner.
Natalie Mitchell, director of Waitrose own brand, said: ‘We’re looking forward to the next chapter and unveiling some really exciting plans in the months to come. We would like to thank Heston Blumenthal and his team for what has been a tremendously creative partnership and wish them all the best in the future.’
A spokesman for The Fat Duck Group said: ‘We want to thank Waitrose for the partnership.
‘Heston and his teams continuously strive to create, and this year sees the arrival of a new sensory experience at The Fat Duck as well as the opening of an innovative new bar concept and Dinner by Heston at Atlantis the Royal, Dubai.’
… but not before this final crazy concoction
The Dabbit: Is it a duck or is it a rabbit?
Blumenthal and Waitrose will have one final hurrah this Easter with the £6 chocolate Dabbit – an 80g treat that looks like a rabbit and a duck. The supermarket says the snack ‘showcases the playful creativity which the Heston from Waitrose range is renowned for’.
‘With some visual trickery’, it says, the treat ‘resembles a rabbit at one angle, but a duck when viewed from a different angle’.
Blumenthal and Waitrose will have one final hurrah this Easter with the £6 chocolate Dabbit