Big chefs, Little chefs? Heston shows the problem is us!

Recipe for TV success
• Two strong personalities with polarized viewpoints.
• A sprinkling of make-believe premise.
• Some fixed-in-their-ways (better if institutionalised) supporting cast.
• A subject on which everyone has a view e.g. marriage, food, sport, pets.
Yes, with Big Chef takes on Little Chef, the commissioning editors have had their clipboards out and ticked all the boxes.
The renowned culinary nutty professor and genius Heston Blumenthal takes on the challenge of turning round the road stop everyone loves to hate – Little Chef. With a boss who seems only interested in the bottom line – eggs (as sure as microwaved eggs) are sure to be broken.
Now regular readers of this blog will know that Little Chef has been a much-visited theme over the years and I’m not a fan.
I’ve never understood just why they are so poor but actually last night’s programme did at least reveal that – because the customers have made it so.
While the bean-counting boss’ view that he has “11M happy customers” is laughable, (you may well have put 11m people through your tills but I can assure you that at least this one didn’t leave ‘happy’) the low take-up of Heston’s alternative menu shows just how unadventurous and dull the travelling public really is.
Customer after customer turned their nose up at the lapsang souchong smoked salmon with scrambled eggs (that hadn’t been destroyed in a microwave) and a meat and oyster hotpot in an individual serving.
But then Heston did also show himself to be out of touch with the demands of fast service society – I mean no-one is suddenly going to feel the need to pull up for lamb’s tongues even if it is topped with spud.
I’m looking forward to seeing how it all ends up with tonight’s concluding programme (Channel 4, 9pm).
If it’s true to form the gap between the two protagonists will widen for dramatic effect but sadly, the necessary culture shift that will see diners demanding food which isn’t produced to standards of the lowest common denominator for reasons of cost-effectiveness, will not be sweeping the nation anytime soon.


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