Did Heston Change Little Chef? Review: Fast Food Slow Progress

October 27, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews


heston300DID HESTON CHANGE LITTLE CHEF?: Wednesday 28th October, Channel 4, 10pm ALERT ME

At first glance this seems to be nothing more than Ramsay-esque demolition television – but in reality it is something of far greater complexity which ultimately makes for much tastier viewing.

This documentary is so multi-faceted that it nearly manages to accidentally become a very good mock-umentary and the soundbytes flow like rioja at an Antony Worrall Thompson dinner party.

Every producer recognises someone asking for the camera to be switched off as a TV jackpot and here Little Chef boss Ian Pegler fills the position of arch-protagonist in a way that must have had programme-makers rubbing their hands.

The premise of the show is that a year ago, Little Chef recruited Mr Blumenthal to revitalise a company which has never been famous for its fine cuisine. The famous chef even had fanciful ambitions of getting one of the chain’s restaurants into the Good Food Guide.

Predictably enough, when Blumenthal returns after a year of poisoning toffs, many of the corners that he meticulously put into place have been well and truly cut and he starts to wonder whether the management is committed to the project.

As the chef dismisses the terrible scrambled egg, Pegler reminds him that he hasn’t added salt and pepper – welcome to cringe central.

“I’m a committed Christian?, says the chain’s boss, “so someone up there always makes sure that I’m telling the truth.? Needless to say, a couple of minutes later we are shown him chatting more commitment dodging management-speak. “I’m looking for blue sky thinking?, he says to a confused Blumenthal.

This power struggle is pretty captivating and some of the conversations are down-right comical: “Right we’ve drawn a line under this,? says Peggler at one stage. “When was this line drawn? After we ate that chicken pie?? asks Heston. “Oh yes – after the pie.? And so on.

There are some other cracking exchanges however and one little sub-plot comes in the form of Heston’s assistant having an interesting clash with a Little Chef manager who has become very attached to the cr*p food he has presided over for a decade.

Can they bring it all together? Either way, it’s delicious television.

Sean Marland