Did Heston Change Little Chef?

Six months have passed since Heston Blumenthal transformed one Little Chef restaurant in Popham. Obviously, he was asked because he’s a really good chef with mental ideas. I have a sneaking suspicion that he was also asked because he looks a bit like the company logo.

Last night, we saw him return to the company to see just how much his ideas have changed the franchise. The show, for traffic purposes, was called Did Heston Change Little Chef? (Channel 4).

Anyone who saw the original show will remember the tussles and garbled managementspeak that drove Heston half insane in the original two-parter. By the same token, anyone who watched the original shows will have probably been driven half mental with the almost constant recaps of last night’s catch-up.

Ironically, for a show that crowed about ingredients being life-threatening, we got a hell of a lot of filler. To insult your intelligence, I’ll use a food based pun.

If this show was a sauce, it would have been blighted by too much cornflour.


[shoots self]

Anyway, in this catch-up, away from a few niggles, the whole thing was rather jolly andwithout incident. In real world terms, this was great news. In TV terms, it was mildly boring. That’s not to say it wasn’t worth watching. Far from it. There’s a place for this sweetie programme in the listings. If you were after the grim mechanics of business a la The Apprentice, then this show will no doubt leave you wanting.

However, if you were just after a nicely entertaining show, then you couldn’t really grumble. Blumenthal is remarkably grounded for someone who has had more smoke blown up his arse than a kipper. He’s affable, determined and clearly doesn’t want people to avert their eyes when he talks to them. For a chef, that’s astonishing.

For the punchline, and this segment was particularly pleasing, the Popham branch became the first Little Chef to ever get into a Good Food Guide! How great is that? Did Heston change Little Chef? Well, he certainly seems to have started something that means, effectively, in the future, when we’re hauling our asses on long trips, the once ailing chain could be a real option for some decent grub. That’s no bad thing. This isn’t some metaphysical promise, but rather, decent fry-ups and pies for you and me.

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