Living in a box

I watched the ponderously-titled \’Big Chef Takes On Little Chef\’, wherein Heston Blumenthal seeks to revive Little Chef, with a creeping and dismal sense of familiarity.

The show pivots on an initially contrived, but subsequently all-too-real clash between Blumenthal and Little Chef boss Ian Pegler. The problem is something like this: Blumenthal sees his role as recovering the reputation of a British classic and, for all his culinary curiosity, seems to nurse a genuine interest in and affection for the traditions of British cooking.

Pegler, however, seems to view Blumenthal as a performing food monkey, who will bring \’blue skies thinking\’ to bear on Little Chef\’s tired menus (but doesn\’t need to worry his little head with anything like business models).

I don\’t know much about catering, but my experiences on the fringe of architecture suggest that the clients who demand wacky, iconic designs for buildings with a \’wow factor\’ are those least likely to understand the careful, pains-taking accretion of change that the best architects can orchestrate. The neophiles want the glamour and the buzz, but are too superficial to consider the sweat and the craft that underpins it.

They want \’thinking outside of the box\’ (Ian Pegler came up with this with a mere two minutes of TV programme to go). To which my architect friend Mark has the only sensible response: \”Err, I don\’t really think in a box.\”

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