Stevio...LA LA Lovin' It?

I'm British-born Chinese from Bristol, UK. I’m LA-based. I’m a hip hop aficionado. After 15 years in London I moved to LA to pursue a new career and outlook on life.

Back in the 80s I was a DJ. In the 90s I contributed to the world's first street style exhibition at London's Victoria & Albert Museum. In 2011, I had my first interviews published. Today, I’m keeping busy with music, art, photos and writing.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Let's go to Little Chef for Valentine's Day, love!

Welcome to Little Chef! "Hmm. To start I'll have the Scottish mussels £4.95 (A pot of rope-grown Scottish mussels in a white-wine sauce, served with brown bread) and a entree of braised ox cheeks £9.75 (Slow-cooked for 72 hours, served with mashed potatoes) please."

No longer will Little Chef be the sleepy roadside cafe place you went as a kid for a cup of tea and a toilet break during a long road-trip to somewhere or another! Nope, not now Heston Blumethal, the three-star Michelin chef famous for creating bacon-and-egg ice-cream, quail jelly and snail porridge was let loose reinvigorate the menu and the staff. All was captured for British TV watchers to witness last month.

After all that hard work and media and customer curiosity the Popham branch of the struggling restaurant chain relaunched itself with a new menu designed by Blumenthal: “People always associate me with snail porridge,” he said. “I do lots of other stuff: this is Little Chef, not Little Heston.”

“Little Chef has changed, pop in and see us” So what did Blumenthal do with the Little Chef classics like the Olympic breakfast, fried bread and burger and chips? “I had to make some bold moves,” Blumenthal, 42, said. Out are the huge US-style portions and in are scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, “organic” and “sustainable” produce and meat. “My idea was to caress the original menu and just make it better,” Blumenthal said. “One of the hardest parts though is the compromises – keeping the food under budget. We don’t have that problem at the Fat Duck.” (Blumenthal's Fat Duck Michelin-star restaurant in Berkshire has a tasting menu for $200 a head!?)

Of course the food isn't the only thing that got a makeover...the restaurant’s decor and toilets have been given the 2009 flavor by Ab Rogers, a designer who worked on the Tate Modern contemporary art museum on the banks of the River Thames.

What next? If the Popham branch works out then changes will ripple across the other 177 cafes across the UK. But it could be a struggle to change the existing customers' minds. “The coffee smells like Bakewell tart,” a confused customer says. May be the answer is to get new customers...“People have a lot of affection and nostalgia for Little Chef, but there is a lost generation...Some people haven’t come here since the mid-1990s,” said Peter Ward, the new boss.

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