Big Chef Takes on Little Chef

Ended / 7:00pm Channel 4 UK 60 min.
Little Chef is a British institution, with 180 roadside outlets all over the country. Olympic breakfasts and Jubilee pancakes loom large in the memories of many Brits. But the restaurant chain has been experiencing difficulties and in 2007 venture capitalists had to step in to save it from financial collapse. Now in its 50th year, Little Chef is in serious need of creative inspiration. Enter Heston Blumenthal, to take on an extraordinary culinary challenge. Heston has strong childhood memories of Little Chef, but can he work his food alchemy to breathe fresh life into the restaurant's menu and help restore it to former glories? Can a chef more used to serving up 200-a-head meals turn around the fortunes of a much loved but tired British institution?

Season 1

3 Episodes

After sampling the current cuisine Heston travels to Sheffield to meet Managing Director, Ian Pegler, and suss out exactly what he's let himself in for. "I pose a risk for them as I'm going into the inner workings of the company," admits Heston, "and I want to see their figures." But the big boss greets him with open arms. "Heston I'm prepared for you to do anything you like," enthuses Ian. "Seriously, this is one of the most important things this brand has ever done." However, Ian is less open about his figures. "You'll need to re-think the quality of your ingredients," says Heston frankly. "What's your GP, your gross profit?" Ian refuses to tell him on screen, promising to email some figures over later and Heston leaves the meeting with more questions than answers.
Jan 21 2009
Heston says he's honoured to have a hand in turning around the fortunes of an iconic British institution. But the Little Chef workers are less convinced by the partnership. Well those who've heard of him anyway. "He's a scientist chef that does experiments," offers a Geordie waiter. "Didn't he make ice cream out of bacon and eggs?" suggests another. And then there's the infamous snail porridge. "I'm not sure people are ready for snail porridge in Little Chef," muses one manager. "They weren't ready for muesli." Heston pops in for lunch to check out the food and isn't impressed with the massive menu. There's reference to Thailand, America... everywhere other than Britain," he chides. "This is the menu of a company in a panic." Heston opts for a selection of dishes but isn't impressed by anything on offer, apart, that is, from the eggs. "It doesn't taste of anything," he exclaims in amazement. "How do you do that?"
Jan 20 2009
Little Chef has been an iconic British brand for decades, serving up no-nonsense fast food to the nation's hungry travellers. But 50 years down the road the chain is in trouble. Britain's palate has moved forward while its motorway cuisine is stuck in reverse. Enter Heston Blumenthal: one of the world's most well-known chefs and master of culinary arts. Can the creator of bacon and egg ice cream be the change the chain is looking for? He'll have to be. The company went bust in 2007 and needs a dramatic rebranding if its re-launch is going to last the distance. But can a man used to serving soundtracks of the sea with his fish suppers be able to turn out hearty tucker for less than a tenner? The heat is on for Heston.
Jan 19 2009