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Heston Blumenthal - Chef

Who'd have thought it? Heston Blumenthal, a chef who has built a career around an obsessive quest for perfection, is trying to tart up Little Chef. He's going to have quite a job on his hands. Still, three hour-long TV programmes should just about do the trick. No, hang on - apparently it will take him that long to sort out one lucky branch of Little Chef, leaving just another 185 to go. Now that sounds more like Heston.

It may seem strange that Britain's most talented chef - with three Michelin stars to his name, a multi-award-winning restaurant, and a much-lauded pub - is turning his attentions to a downmarket roadside chain. But give it some thought, and the peculiar starts to make perfect sense (much like, say, Ian McKellen's appearance on Coronation Street). Little Chef has been dishing up full English breakfasts for weary travellers since time immemorial (well, 1958), and it just so happens that two of Blumenthal's preoccupations are breakfast dishes and historic British food.

Take a look at the Fat Duck's menu, past and present. Snail porridge, parsnip cereal, egg and bacon ice cream, sardine sorbet ... it's all about breakfast. Then there's the history angle. Blumenthal dishes up traditional British food at his pub, he's working on a historic tasting menu for the restaurant, and he has another new series coming up in which he will be recreating forgotten dishes from the past. Of course he's keen to save a struggling 50-year-old British institution. Sue Murphy from Channel 4 confirms that Blumenthal is "nostalgic for Little Chef", rather than "sneering" at it.

On the other hand, maybe Blumenthal has sold out, copied Gordon Ramsay, and is just in it for the big bucks.

Either way, we'd like hear your experiences of Little Chef, good and bad. Is the roadside food in Britain a national disgrace, or has it improved since the coffee chains moved in? What's the first change Blumenthal should make? Hungry holidaymakers across the nation will thank you for your input.


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