Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Little Chef Gets A Makeover

If anyone has been watching the Channel 4's Big Chef Takes Little Chef with Heston Blumenthal the chef that brought the world Snail Porridge then you may not want to scroll down as it may reveal what may be shown on tonight's final episode...

EP1 saw Heston turn up in what can only be described as the cooking world's equivalent to Hicksville. This is an eatery/diner, but the staff use microwaves to cook scrambled eggs that look like mouldy grated cheese, there are no pots and pans, in fact the staff laugh in the face of pots and pans...they are armed with microwaves. Basically nobody knows how to cook and the very suggestion of the 'kitchen' running like a kitchen and not a production line spiting out bits of food causes mass fear and hysteria. The restaurant is run down and so are the staff, but they just keep turning up to churn out food to the regular customers and unsuspecting tourists who may be passing by looking for a quick snack and an example of great British food

Heston takes the challenge on to transform the Litte Chef meu using one Little Chef restaurant in Popham thinking he can train the restaurant's staff up...wrong!!! His menu-mashed potato soup, Earl Grey flavoured smoked salmon etc etc...which seems over the top for the brand and to far along the experimental line, but nonetheless is probably better tasting than your average grub is criticised by a bunch of blokes in suits who make such insightful comments as 'its too salty', 'it just tastes like oil' and called poncy by a visibly disgusted woman. Indeed you are trying to convince people to change who hate change- this quote sums the problem up

"What's your favourite starter?" Heston asked, doing some vox-pop research on potential customer appetites. "Chips," replied one man...not Lobster Bisque then.

Indeed, the existing customers want to pull their grease drenched Olympic breakfast (probably the worst name for a breakfast-it would make me more aware of how unfit I am and reinforces the fact I will never take part in the Olympics) off their plates they don't want a pile of dry ice tipping over their plate they don't even want ham and eggs-thats just poncy. Blumenthal, genuinely appeared to believe that sticking an oyster into a Lancashire hotpot and flavouring the smoked salmon with Earl Grey would transform the fortunes of a wilting brand? Eventually he takes a more restrained approach

The MD is a small, ball shaped man named Ian Pegler who throughout wears a bemused look on his face as if it has been stapled to him, constantly projecting the feeling that he has no idea what this crazy Willy Wonka chef man Blumenthal is doing despite his expressed babbled desire for so called 'blue skies thinking' that would not alienate existing customers. Pegler finds out that Heston isn't someone to mess with in the hope of free publicity for your relaunch. Discovering that they were rolling out a new menu (the one Heston is meant to be designing) without consulting him, Blumenthal storms a board meeting and gives him an ultimatum. Either he backs a broader experiment or he would walk. At that point things move forward and the food becomes a bit more 'normal', with everything left on a positive note set up for tonights show

See how it turns out tonight...but here is a sneek preview of the restaurants rebranding, which is actually quite cool, modern and refreshing-if a little Americana for the tastes of chip obsessed Little Britain


Anonymous said...

Wow – definitely a lack of fresh, open-minded thinking. Changing a culture like that is a huge task and it needs to come from top - down.

In contrast, this little pub, Four Crosses Inn near Cannock, Staffordshire, is doing great guns. In response to the economic slump, they’ve concocted the £1 meal and have gone from serving 30 lunches a day to 300. Bar takings have increase fourfold. Flexible, responsive and innovative – perhaps pegler could learn something?

Pink said...

I love the new look little chef! Not sure if i'll make me go there but hey!