Before lifting off into space, British astronaut Major Tim Peake challenged celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal to create dishes to eat during his six-month mission in space on board the International Space Station. The meals must remind Major Peake of home, while at the same time provide him with essential nutrients for good health.
Following two years of extensive research, Blumenthal has a menu containing multi-sensory, gravity-defying dishes, including a sausage sizzle, a bacon sarnie and other goodies to conjure up nostalgic memories of Peake’s home planet.
At 6.30 today, Sunday 20th March, Channel 4 will be broadcasting Heston’s Dinner in Space, which follows the real scientific adventures of Britain’s celebrity chef and his team, as they liaise closely with the European Space Agency (ESA), the UK Space Agency, and NASA.
Heston Blumenthal took the challenge seriously and simulated astronauts’ environments, including going up in an airplane that descends rapidly, giving him the sensation of microgravity. (Image: twitter.com/TheHestonTeam)
Revolutionising space food
The aim is to revolutionise the space-food menu, which to date has been even less interesting than the stuff they serve on bargain flights and unenlightened hospitals.
In order to achieve their aim – to create tasty space meals – the team has been pushing close to the limits of what is possible scientifically.
Before setting off on his six-month space mission on 15th December 2015, Major Peake set one challenge to Heston Blumenthal: “The task was to shake up the menu and create dishes that would remind Tim of home, helping him combat the emotional impact of his journey,” according to a Channel 4 press release.
UK ESA astronaut Tim Peake and celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal. (Image: gov.uk/government/news. Credit: UK Space Agency)
According to the show producers, Blumenthal takes Major Peake on a nostalgic journey of his childhood with every single bite, provides much-needed comfort food and ‘creates the quintessential cup of tea’, to match the crumb-less and classically British bacon sarnie.
In space, you have to make sure meals have no loose crumbs, because they float off and litter the space station’s air.
Food must be tasty and good for health
While satisfying the astronaut’s taste buds and his longing for reminders of home, Blumenthal and colleagues also have to make sure Major Peake’s meals have all the nutrients necessary to keep him in good health while orbiting Earth.
Regarding the TV show, Channel 4 adds:
“At the centre of Heston’s Dinner in Space will be Heston’s quest to push the boundaries of how we eat, delving into the biology of how our bodies react to being in space and how the physics and chemistry of eating can be changed within this environment.”
“We follow Heston’s unfolding challenges, as he races against time and strict NASA food regulations to create foods that not only taste out of this world, but can be consumed in Space and most importantly in micro gravity.”
Heston Blumenthal’s two year research involved experiments and interviews with Tim Peake, as well as consultations with several space agencies. (Image: gov.uk/government/news. Credit: UK Space Agency)
Some tasty-sounding dishes
Below are some of the meals the team hopes Major Peake will enjoy:
– Bacon Sandwich
– Sausages Sizzle
– Thai Red Curry
– Alaskan Salmon
– Beef and Black Truffle Stew
Creating meals that remind astronauts of home, have no crumbs, are super-tasty and nutritionally healthy, is not an easy task.
‘A surge of pride’
Regarding Major Peake’s challenge, Heston Blumenthal said:
“When Tim set me my mission, I felt a surge of pride to be involved in such a historic moment for both astronomy and gastronomy. Imagine telling a young boy that when he grows up he will create food for astronauts to eat in Space – it’s a dream I couldn’t even envisage, let alone it coming true!”
“Working with the team at the UK Space Agency, ESA and NASA has been a phenomenal experience. Tim and I have also worked closely together, creating dishes that will remind him of home even though he’ll be 400km away in Space. The very least I could do was make sure he had a cup of tea and a bacon sarnie.”
The task was much more difficult than anybody could have imagined, said Jay Taylor, Executive Producer for Thoroughly Modern Media.
Mr. Taylor said:
“Teaming Heston with the space agency, to create food that can be eaten in space seemed like the dream partnership, but none of us could have anticipated the monumental struggle this would be.”
“From hundred page rule books to exploding space shuttles, this challenge has pushed Heston further than ever, but the resulting food we hope will genuinely change space travel for the better.”
Commissioning Editor at Channel 4, Sara Ramsden, said:
“If humanity is ever to get to Mars and beyond, science needs to turn its attention to the sensory and aesthetic side of nutrition in space. Heston has brought his usual flamboyant creativity to the challenge and created some wonderful dishes that we are sure Tim Peake is going to love.”
The documentary was commissioned by Ms. Ramsden, the producer was Kate Dooley, and executive producer for Thoroughly Modern Media was Mr. Taylor.
Video – Heston’s Dinner in Space
Heston Blumenthal creates special dishes for Major Tim Peake to take with him to the International Space Station, including microgravity bacon sarnies.