I’m a bit of a no-hoper when it comes to TV shows. In fact, I could be classifed as a small-screen deadbeat, unable to commit proper time to many of the shows that often leave people a-buzz and couch-glued until the final credits roll. This means I frequently miss good things and I really regret not catching the much-talked-about first season of Heston’s Feasts. Luckily though, I’ve had a chance to play catch-up, thanks to a preview of the latest series, which starts on SBS this evening from 8.30PM.
The first episode is inspired by his “childhood hero”, Willy Wonka, with Heston taking a page from Charlie & The Chocolate Factory to create actual Lickable Wallpaper, applied with apple-sauce-flavoured glue and stencilled with edible patterns of prawn cocktail and cocktail sausage. He follows it with a magic mushroom extravaganza, by handpainting enoki caps and using rarities bought at an Italian black market auction performed by the “fungus underworld”. Then there’s his transformation of Duck a l’Orange into actual confectionery, with the sauce served as boiled sweets melting through a gumball machine.
Unlike those suspiciously perfect ‘here’s one we prepared earlier’ food programs, you see things go wrong here – like when Heston tries to “smoke bomb” a duck at a firestation, using military techniques. He’s also unafraid of the gross-out factor, particularly with serving dishes like the fairytale-inspired Magic Beans which cleverly camouflage their actual origins (punchline: they’re actually made of chicken testicles).
Heston’s Feasts isn’t perfect – the gushy celebrity diners don’t really add anything much besides predictable squeals and repetitive praise – and the commentary and format can feel very workman-like at times. But if you enjoy the idea of someone experimenting with how to create a confectionery-sweet house from Hansel & Gretel (chocolate scaffolding and boiled-sweet stained-glass windows, anyone?), purely so guests can break it apart and eat the shortbread tiles, then keep your TV on SBS on Thursday nights at 8.30pm.