It seems the idea of starting a restaurant has gone so mainstream that it now has it’s own reality TV show.
Personally I think this could be really educational. Hopefully it will show what it really takes- not just a dream or a ton of personal wealth or anything like that but just the desire to do it along with solid planning.
It also makes the point that this show is not chefs or experienced restaurant people doing it- they are taking people basically off the street who have always wanted to start a restaurant or have an idea for one and then putting them through the steps to actually do it.
Of course, this is TV, so they are going to play up the drama and manufacture some stressful situations and generally make sure it isn’t just about the actual process but that it also makes interesting television. That’s OK, as long as you remember that and you also keep in mind parts of it are left out and parts of it will be over-dramatized for effect.
The bottom line is though I think education is beneficial even in slightly skewed form and people will most likely be able to learn from this and take advantage of some of the things it is trying to get across. And if not, I’ll be the first to call BS!
With niches as specific as cake decorating already acknowledged with multiple shows (Food Network’s Ace of Cakes and TLC’s Cake Boss), it seems as though there couldn’t possibly be a facet of the food genre that TV hasn’t tackled yet, but the upcoming America’s Next Great Restaurant will attempt to challenge that notion. Celebrity chef Flay and Chipotle founder and co-CEO Steve Ells are teaming up with NBC to try and introduce an aspect of the restaurant business the viewing public hasn’t seen yet: the complete execution of a restaurant idea, from conception to grand opening.
Contestants from all over the country, with their own idea of what would make the next great, “fast casual” restaurant chain in America, will vie for an ultimate prize of having their concept brought to life with three startup locations in Los Angeles, Minneapolis and New York City. Flay and Ells, along with chef and restaurateur Lorena Garcia and renowned Australian cooking personality Curtis Stone (The Biggest Loser, Take Home Chef), will serve as both judges and mentors to the top ten contenders throughout the season and, also, personally invest in the winning business model.
“I think that’s part of the brilliance of the show. I think that, because we are investors, we have this vested interest in making sure that the person who wins really is going to be successful, as opposed to, you know, a reality show where there’s a prize and then that’s it,” Ells said, adding that the benefit of the financial support of the judges is a grand prize that keeps on giving. “Really, the winner wins more than just these three restaurants. They win the ability to continue to grow this business and turn it into something that could be quite large and quite valuable.”
Aside from providing the initial capital to get the winner’s restaurant concept up and running, Flay explained why he enjoyed using his success and experience in the culinary industry to help contestants who ordinarily might have never found an opportunity to present their idea at all, much less to four experts of the trade.
“First of all, it’s a great way to mentor people who are looking to get into the restaurant business. You know, the restaurant business is one of those things that is intriguing to almost everyone. And I think that almost [every] single person has said at least one time in their life, ‘I have a great idea for a restaurant.’ … And this was a perfect opportunity for anyone, no matter who you are, to come and pitch your ideas to four people that have had success in the restaurant business.”
An interesting factor within the structure of America’s Next Great Restaurant is that the finalists aren’t necessarily chefs or even cooks. This departure, from the sturdy, white-jacketed framework of Top Chef and other successful food shows, gives America’s Next Great Restaurant a fresh outlook on the aspects of a restaurateur’s life outside the kitchen. According to Ells, the show’s underlying message can even be construed under a broader definition.
“I think the show appeals to people who might want to start any kind of a business,” Ells said. “I mean, there is a lot of emphasis placed on, you know, entrepreneurship and the ability to not only have a good idea, but to take that idea and really evolve it and prove that you know how to put all the pieces together. So there are so many aspects to the show beyond just food and restaurants.”
“Anybody can come up with a really good pitch, but the question is, do they have the repertoire of personality and also the drive to see the thing through, because ultimately that’s what they have to do. Getting the restaurant open might be easiest part of this,” Flay said. “Making it work and growing the business is going to be the really tough part.”
Don’t miss the series premiere of America’s Next Great Restaurant Sunday, March 6 at 8/7c on NBC.
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