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Heston Blumenthal - Chef

Walkers crisps is working with Michelin-starred chef Heston Blumenthal on what a source at the food giant described as a "healthy eating" initiative.

Blumenthal is understood to have been working with Walkers for the past six months on what another source described as a "big and new" initiative for the company.

Walkers declined to disclose whether Blumenthal will feature directly in any advertising or marketing for the company for the initiative, or whether he will develop new recipes for a new line of crisps.

The company also declined to comment on whether Blumenthal's image will be used on any packets.

But it is understood that he will not be replacing football pundit Gary Lineker, who fronts Walkers' television adverts. Lineker's contract with Walkers is expected to expire in 2010.

In the past Walkers has used other faces in its advertising, including singer Charlotte Church and chef Gordon Ramsay, and it appears likely that Blumenthal's involvement is centred around his expertise in food research.

At his Michelin-starred restaurant, the Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire, Blumenthal has become famous for developing and serving dishes such as snail porridge, triple-cooked chips and bacon-and-egg ice cream.

Blumenthal also fronted the BBC2 cookery show In Search of Perfection in which he demonstrates his skills developing new flavours and recipes such as edible Christmas tree baubles.

He now has more freedom to engage in commercial activities after leaving the BBC and signing an exclusive two-year deal with Channel 4 in March this year.

A senior source at Walkers confirmed Blumenthal's involvement and said that an announcement will be made "later in the year" but declined to comment further.

The insider denied suggestions that Blumenthal would become "the face of Walkers", but described his involvement as "big and new and exciting".

A Walkers spokeswoman declined to comment


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