French know-how saves the English pork pie
For 170 years the Leicester pie maker Walker and Son has traded on its reputation for quality, becoming one of the country's biggest producers of mini Melton Mowbray pies.
But in the cut and thrust of the late-1990s world of pork, tradition would not suffice. Far too many of the company's pastry shells were turning out tilted or with a cracked crust.
A call for help brought in Herve Mazenod, a 26-year-old Frenchman. The nearest Monsieur Mazenod's previous culinary experience had come to a pork pie was pate en croute, but he and fellow engineers from De Montfort University used their expertise to discover why the pies were not coming up to scratch. The problem? A combination of machine and human error. As good cooks know, pastry is very sensitive to changes in temperature, but M Mazenod pointed out that it is also affected by the way it is moulded and mixed.
The solution? Gallic charm. M Mazenod used his to persuade the entire workforce to work in the same way. Or put another way: follow the recipe to the letter.
According to Mike Deacon, chief engineer at Walker and Son, staff had been reluctant at first to believe a newcomer, perhaps particularly a Frenchman, could teach them anything. But he could - and saved the company pounds 150,000 a year.
Woolwich terror attack: Suspect Michael Adebowale saw friend 'literally sliced to pieces' in 2008
Emergency landing at Heathrow sparks further controversy over London airport capacity
Unrest may spread across Europe, warns Red Cross chief
BNP and EDL accused of attempt to fuel racial hatred after Woolwich terror attack
You want to get an Eton scholarship? All you need to do is answer four (not so simple) questions
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.