Heston Blumenthal may have earned three Michelin stars at The Fat Duck. His restaurant may have been voted the best in the UK, and twice-voted the second best in the world, but apparently he's not good enough for motorway service station diners.
The dishes he put on the Little Chef menu back in 2009 have just been dropped by the chain.
CollaborationThe dishes were the result of a collaboration between the celebrity chef and the service station stalwart for a three-part TV show in 2009. His aim was to dramatically overhaul the chain, starting with one restaurant in Popham, Hampshire - bringing his vision and standards to a chain known for large portions of fried food.
The programme was a huge success, and the transformation of Popham was hailed a victory, earning a place in the Good Food Guide. However, the collaboration was fraught with difficulties from the beginning.
Anyone who saw the series couldn't help but squirm at the clash of cultures. After the programme aired, Blumenthal was asked by the investment company behind the chain to work on a roll-out of the concepts he had introduced at Popham. However, his advisory role did not last long.
His spokesman told the Daily Telegraph: "Unfortunately, the level of investment required in terms of training, rebranding and menu development to deliver consistency and quality in line with the Popham concept were not forthcoming. Without this, he stopped his advisory role after a brief period."
DroppedIt was only really a matter of time before the dishes - including braised ox cheeks and strawberry, yoghurt and granola - left the menu. The replacements will include gammon and egg, french toast, and a BBQ chicken dish which comes with bacon, melted cheese and fries.
However, the way in which it has been announced seems to demonstrate little professional courtesy. Little Chef spokesman Richard Hillgrove was not complimentary about the original concept, telling the Daily Mail: "Heston originally approached us to do his Channel 4 show about how he was going to save Little Chef. It seemed like a good idea at the time. But he took everything away from its core."
He was keen to remind us that Heston redesigned the restaurant and introduced talking toilets - which recited poetry when they were used. It's not the kind of thing that would surprise fans of the internationally-acclaimed chef, but seemed a shock to the chain.
Hillgrove added: "The problem is that no one wants his food. None of his dishes are popular. As of Monday, we've dropped all his dishes from the ten restaurants where his food was available. That's all gone as of this week. He's been wiped off the menu. Little Chef needs to get back down to earth and that's what we're doing."
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