January 20, 2009
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Watching Big Chef Takes on Little Chef on Channel 4, I'm spitting at the crassness of the Little Chef management (yes, I know there are better things to spit about, but hey). It was obvious from last night's show that all CEO Ian Pegler wanted out of Heston Blumenthal was a PR stunt whereas Blumenthal either genuinely believed in the exercise of reinventing the menu or is a damn good actor. And lo, I boot up the PC to blog about it and Heston finally works it out in tonight's episode and confronts Pegler, who red-facedly denies it.
The CEO demands a radical menu, dismissing Blumenthal's first efforts as though he's a proper food critic, blithering on about "aromatics", while refusing to hand over information about profits so ingredients can be properly sourced and priced. He's either a complete moron who doesn't know his customer base – Little Chef customers aren't going to accept the flamboyant creations Pegler's after, something Blumenthal instinctively grasps – or he's cynically attempting to manipulate Blumenthal and Channel 4 to get good PR. Unfortunately, he's coming across as a complete dick and exposing his chain's commitment to shoddy ingredients, unskilled labour and microwavable ready meals. From a man who says "I'm a great believer in PR-ing the business. It is cheaper than advertising", he clearly doesn't know PR from his arse.
Or, perhaps Pegler just fancied a Fat Duck experience for him and his board without paying for it. Either way, he couldn't have done his business more of a disservice. If it weren't for the fact that people's jobs are on the line it would be excellent television. As it is, it makes me angry to watch a man barefacedly lie and weasel and destroy his business on camera at the exact point when it will be impossible for his staff to get new jobs when the company goes into administration.