The appearance by the Editor of the Good Food Guide on the recent Channel4 programme Did Heston Change Little Chef? was a publicity stunt pure and simple. That’s the necessary consequence of our report yesterday, which revealed that the seeming inspection featured on the programme was no such thing, as the guide had already been printed.
The discovery raises some very telling questions for the Good Food Guide (GFG), and its publishers, former Consumers’ Association Which? These include:
• who came up with the idea of a GFG listing for the Little Chef Popham in the first place – Which?, or the production company?
• did the prospect of TV coverage for the GFG weigh in favour of the inclusion of the Little Chef in the guide?
• who suggested to whom the fashioning of the made-for-TV stunt?
• why did Which? allow the GFG Editor to appear on the programme without taking measures to ensure that it was made clear to viewers what was going on?
• is it appropriate for consumer-champion Which? to participate in a stunt whose presentation to viewers was at best ambiguous and at worst misleading?
Even before the programme, we had noted how blatantly the GFG – which makes much of its supposed independence and anonymity – has seemed in recent times to be cosying up to the world-famous Heston Blumenthal.
In that context, the TV programme was, in the light of what we now know about it, beyond parody. Is there any point in claiming to be independent (as the GFG does) if you so recklessly give people credible reason to call that independence into question?
Which?, however – in its seeming desperation be associated with high profile chefs – looks like its falling over itself to provide new reasons to question its claims.
For the record, we’d have liked to have been able to tell you what Which?’s replies were to the above points. Rather curiously, however – having initially very readily told us that the Editor’s visit was not an inspection at all – they then clammed up, and refused to answer any of the many obvious questions which flowed from what they had told us!