Pandora: Heston's dealings with Little Chef freeze over

By Alice-Azania Jarvis
Sunday 23 October 2011 06:49

All, it would seem, is not well between Heston Blumenthal and his one-time makeover project, the Little Chef.

Earlier this year, the test tube juggling supercook undertook the not insignificant task of revamping the unloved diner's menu, following a catastrophic plunge in profits and across-the-board closures. Despite coming up against the inevitable bit of boardroom reluctance, Blumenthal eventually dreamed up a menu that seemed to satisfy both the chain's long-serving staff and their customers.

Then, last week, following several months' piloting, Little Chef CEO Ian Pegler announced that the menu would be rolled out to branches nationwide. So far, so successful.

Except for the tiny detail that the menu's architect appears to have been entirely left out of the operation. Discussing the announcement at an industry awards ceremony this week, Heston claimed to know nothing of Pegler's plans.

Although it's unclear whether the pair have had any contact since, it seems likely that relations aren't too amicable: Blumenthal and Pegler are known to have locked horns in the past.

A member of the Little Chef team, meanwhile, claimed that the blame game wasn't so simple: "It's not just a one-way situation."

Tim names Murray's odds

Pandora's hot tip for Wimbledon, courtesy of tournament regular Tim Henman. "I think Murray will definitely win it – at some stage anyway," he told us at the launch of his new training initiative for Robinsons fruit juice.

"And, to be honest, he has as good a chance this time around as he has had in any year so far."

Tim, apparently, will also be out in force for the event, challenging queuing spectators to on-the-spot volleys.

Heffer: queen of Las Vegas?

Simon Heffer's enthusiasm for elected office isn't entirely new. According to Stephen Parkinson's delightful work, Arena of Ambition: A History of the Cambridge Union, the straight-laced Telegraph columnist served as the Union's social fixer. Apparently, the ginger terror would arrange such licentious entertainments as "juvenile delinquents parties" and Las Vegas evenings – for which he "hoped that the subtle combination of vices would secure a large attendance". Good heavens. Whatever would his employers think?

Voters mourn as Lumley bows out

Tragic news. Joanna Lumley – Britain's last democratic hope, in Pandora's eyes – has decided, once and for all, that she will not be running for Parliament. The freedom fighter/actress's announcement follows a letter from her local mayor inviting her to run for the Hemsworth seat in Yorkshire at the next election.

Alas, Joanna was not to be persuaded: "She has always made it very clear that the Gurkha issue is a one-off event," explains a spokesman. "She has now returned to acting, which is where she wishes to remain."

Gordon, with regret, you're fired

What was grizzly businessmen Sir Alan Sugar doing entering 10 Downing Street yesterday morning?

Not, apparently, giving the PM the chop – though the image is enough to amuse us at least until the next election – but in fact engaging in more mundane activities: a pre-arranged meeting of the Business Council for Britain. 'Tis a shame.

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