Heston Blumenthal is famous – or should that be infamous – for his bonkers approach to food, from snail porridge to egg and bacon ice cream. After upping the quality of Little Chef’s notoriously shoddy food in 2009, Heston is going all out to improve the cuisine of every industry he can get his hands on in Channel 4’s Heston’s Mission Impossible.
First up is Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. The kids are unimpressed by the cold slops they get for lunch and dinner, which doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Anyone who has been unfortunate enough to spend time in hospital will attest to the shockingly substandard quality of food, and it goes without saying that it needs to be improved. So the fact that Heston is doing something to challenge it can only be a good thing.
In theory Heston’s premise is pretty good: make food fun. With some children potentially spending years if not their whole lives in hospital, anything that brightens their day and encourages them to eat a nutritious meal is worthwhile. Cue the balloons and comically named meals like ‘snot shake’ and ‘vomit soup,’ and suddenly the kids are smiling.
Amazingly, the hospital has only two chefs dedicated to producing food for the children but a disproportionate four chefs who cook for the staff, the hospital restaurant and for events. Quite what kind of events are being held in a hospital is a mystery, but the logic behind it is that these outputs generate profit, whereas feeding sick children obviously works in the opposite direction. Ergo, bothering to cook decent food for the patients is a waste of time and money.
Sadly, the real waste of time is Heston’s unsustainable involvement in an industry he clearly has no experience in. Whilst it might be commonplace to individually inject worms (don’t be put off, they’re full of protein!) with a syringe filled with ketchup in his tiny three Michelin stars village restaurant, the practicality of doing so on a mass scale when there are around 250 hungry mouths to feed on a budget of just £4 per head per day is little more than ridiculous.
Like his food, Heston seems to have completely lost the plot – either because he’s so absorbed in his experimental wacky haute cuisine that he has no idea about the regular food us ordinary folk eat, or the show’s producers are determined not to break the usual boundaries of “chef tries to change the world” TV. But either way, the decision of the hospital’s financial directors to keep trying to make food fun is a small and predictable victory.
And as for his time and money-consuming menu? Well it pretty much goes without saying that it will be discarded like a cold cup of his vomit soup as quickly as you can sneeze into your snot shake.