Saturday, March 26, 2011

America's Next Great Restaurant Cranks Up The Action And Makes Me Crankier Than Ever


I thought Bobby sounded kind of schoolmarmish last week when he ran through last week’s results and said Fran was eliminated because of “her stubborn nature”.

He had just finished talking about how truly dreadful the other folks’ food was and how they had no clear vision for their restaurants. Then he said Fran got booted because she wouldn’t listen to the investors. “It was Fran’s stubborn nature that ended her dream,” he explained.

I think they should have given Fran another chance and Tater Tot Couple should have been kicked off faster than you can hydrate a potato flake. AND Stir Fry Gal, who didn’t stir fry? She’s a bit of a ninny. Oh well.

You know what I’d really love to see? I’d love to see Bobby ask them to list the 5 Sauces Mère (mother sauces). Béchamel, Velouté, Espagnole or Brown Sauce, Hollandaise and Tomato. (This is the usual agreed-upon list.) Or what is the only pastry which is cooked twice? Choux, first on top of the stove, secondly in the oven. I know that’s another show, but I can dream. 

The other thing that bothers me is that a lot of these restaurant ideas are SO ho-hum. To ME, the first requirement of starting something new is that it be exciting. You have to WANT to go there to be a part of something new and neat and a little different. XIE-XIE, Angelo’s fusion-y sandwich shop is exciting.  His sandwiches are completely delicious and they have a different spin to them. 

Pinkberry, which I have had mixed feelings about in the past, is definitely exciting. What’s cooler than being able to pick a bunch of fun things to heap into your yogurt? That’s why all those do-it-yourself yogurt places are so successful. You can come up with all kinds of crazy combinations yourself. (Of course, it’s not so fun when you find you’ve helped yourself to $17 dollars worth of frozen yogurt and probably 2000 calories, but never mind about that…) 

That’s what I liked about Fran. Her wrap place sounded fun and different. This Stir Fry idea? Not so much. Diet Lawyer Gal? Booorrrinnng. Jerky Wing Guy probably has good food, but he acts like he should just buy a Hooters and be done with it. And sappy sweet Grilled Cheese Guy? Ugh.

The folks meet up at Chipotle. Steve Els explains that their concept is “Food with Integrity”. His father’s original investment of $85,000 has turned into a company worth 4 billion dollars.

This week, the folks have to work the lunchtime crowd at Chipotle. Each one will be in charge of a station. The obnoxious wings guy, not Jamawn, but Alex, says that should be no problem, since he runs a restaurant already and that’s what he does.

Stephenie is overwhelmed by the challenge. Isn’t this what she signed up for??? Isn’t she trying to open her own restaurant? Actually three of them?!! So if THIS is overwhelming…maybe she should go back to the more low-key environment of Harvard Law School.

Steve wants to see leadership as the investors sit back and observe how the contestants do. Basically everyone fails miserably. Good girl, Stephenie, does step up to do a lot of grunt work, but Jamawn yells like a football coach, which doesn’t impress Steve.

Steve is getting increasingly anxious with how badly things are going. He takes over and assembles the food and serves the customers. But REALLY, what exactly did they expect? These would-be restaurateurs had moments to prepare. They were basically set up to fail, so, of course, they were incompetent. Two of them think it’s acceptable to serve Bobby Flay Tater Tots! Believe me, your eleven year old could have done a better job on the line than these folks.

Steve was particularly unimpressed that Marisa was heating tortillas using AN UNPLUGGED-IN TORTILLA WARMER. He grabs the tortilla from her and tosses it in the garbage and says that demonstrates bad judgment. YA THINK?!! She wanted a stir fry restaurant and still hasn’t stir-fried anything and doesn’t have the slightest idea how to do it. I’m surprised she’s gotten this far and can think and speak at the same time. Oh wait, scratch that.

Back at the business center, Steve goes through all the things they did wrong, which was basically everything. Bobby tells Stephenie she could work for him anytime. I have no clue why. He didn’t tell Jamawn not to yell or Marisa to not be a putz.

Bobby moves on to the names of their restaurants. He says Eric can keep Meltworks and, unbelievably, Joey’s Saucy Balls is okay too, because the crowd last week liked those names. Really? 

Everyone else is in for some name revamping. They have to come up with a new slogan and a dish to match it. Then they’ll serve it to 100 people. Jamawn is giving up his wings and waffles concept. DARN! And now he’s going with Soul-Daddy’s, which actually IS a good name and his dishes do sound good. But I wanted some Chicken and Waffles in these here parts.

They tell Marisa she should think about getting rid of her chef. She demurs. They tell Sudhir that he should think about getting rid of his chef. He agrees in one second flat.

Bobby doesn’t like Compleat as the name of Stephenie’s restaurant. She tells us that everyone wanted Steve Els to change the name of Chipotle and he refused, so she’s sticking to her guns. It doesn’t matter what she calls it, it sounds dreadful. 

Sudhir decides to be his own chef and use his new professional chef as his sous-chef.

Greg and Krystal go from the name Hick to Grill Babies, because Bobby told them they should GRILL their food instead of BARBECUE it, because it’s faster. If he told them to serve Lucky Charms, would they do that too?  Marisa is asking every single person what he or she thinks of her food. Not as good sign.

Okay, this is funny. Bobby and Steve come in to make some pronouncement or other as the contestants are cooking. Then Steve points to the back of the room and says, in totally monotone-d voice, “Fire.” It’s Marisa’s chef’s wok – the one she wouldn’t get rid of.

Next is the mini food fair, where the contestants all have their new names and new slogan’s. Some blowhard advertising guy tells the Limbo lady that he really likes her new name of Sinners & Saints – Food for your mood.

Tiffinbox guy, Sudhir, has unhappily changed his name to Spice Coast, Modern Indian – “Eat flavorfully”). I liked Tiffinbox, and it was good way to educate people about what one is. He made an absolutely fantastic sounding grilled samosa with a mango and avocado relish. He had me at samosa. Bobby is worried that because Sudhir has had many other businesses that he may just palm this off, if they give it to him. Sudhir says he turned down a lucrative job offer to do this.

Marisa changed her name to CHAO - The art of the stir fry. I have no idea what that name means. Oh, is she doing an Asian take on “CHOW”, as in grub or food? I guess that must be it. Curtis’s problem is that SHE’S NOT STIR FRYING HER FOOD…AGAIN. Plus it’s not good. Before, I had pangs about calling her a ninny. Now I don’t.

Fusion Taco Alex changed his name to Revolution Tacos with Explore, discover, indulge as the slogan. Ehhh! He serves Curtis and Steve an Asian Pork Wonton Taco. Curtis tells Alex, “I don’t like it.” Curtis tells US, “His tacos are disgusting.” Steve: “It’s mushy.” Alex likes that it melts in his mouth (like an old sponge).

Saint and Sinner lady is serving a Bacon Cheddar Meatloaf OR a Turkey Meatloaf. WHO is going to order the turkey meatloaf??! Lorena says the food is a five out of ten, but she finally understands her idea. This is insane! Who gives a restaurant to someone who doesn’t have FABULOUS food?!!

Jamawn’s Soul Daddy - Cookin with heart and soul (I don’t approve of the lack of an apostrophe after cookin) is serving collard greens with smoked turkey, loaded cornbread and grits. Curtis says the food makes him feel cozy.

Listen to this name and slogan – Meltworks - artisanal ingredients endless possibilities. GMAB! Eric made a black forest ham, gruyere and Jarlsberg grilled cheese with a bunch of crap (apple compote???) inside. Bobby says get rid of the crap (I’m paraphrasing) and serve it with a bunch of dipping sauces. Eric says, “That’s what I was thinking.” You were? Then why didn’t you do it??! What a poser! Another blowhard ad guy says he was disappointed by the fancy schmancy grilled cheese. Go back to selling Tide and how do those guys manage that one day old stubble? And why do they think it looks cool? Do you think this show is making me a bit cranky?

Tater Tots folks are calling themselves Grill Billies – Urban Grill with Southern Attitude. Be the sauce”. OMG! How dumb! Gosh, I dislike them. They have NO point of view. They change like the wind and they seem to have no idea of why they’re there. WHY are they there?

Fran, at least, knew what she wanted. These people are losers, although the female Grill Billie is quite stunning and reminds me of the gal from Sugarland. Steve tells them to get rid of the Be the Sauce part of their slogan. Finally, Girl Grill Billie actually explains the concept nicely - She wants to make southern dishes with a California twist. Why didn’t she just say that? They make a spice rubbed skirt steak with slaw and crispy jalapeno. Steve and Curtis like their dish, but when they ask questions about how they’d go about certain things, the Grill Billies get really confused and answer every which way. Curtis actually tells them he doesn’t think they know what they’re talking about. OY! Get the hook! They turn to their chef afterwards for consolation, who says they should get their stories straight.

For some reason, Joey made turkey meatballs with gorgonzola. Grandma would probably turn over in her grave if she knew Saucy Balls was serving turkey. His Saucy Balls slogan is “Italian Home cooking fresh and fast”. Whatever. That’s neither here nor there; Bobby says it’s not a ground-breaking slogan.

Stephenie is next with Compleat “Flavor you can count on”. She is obsessed with counting calories. She boringly describes her idea to one of the ad guys as serving healthy food, while keeping in mind portion control. Sexeee. Ad guy says he understands it’s healthy, but he doesn’t get a sense that there’s anything delicious here…from her slogan - conscious modern fresh. Bobby and Lorena say she’s not going far enough with both the food and the description of it.

Back to the “business center”, the concept that got the most silver coins from the diners is Soul Daddy.

The investors call in Stephenie first. Bobby tells her to stop looking in her book to count calories. He doesn’t care about that. Concentrate on making healthy, delicious food and the calories will take care of themselves, he’s basically saying. That’s a 180 degree difference from her initial concept of categorizing everything by calorie count. Bobby can’t live with the name of her restaurant. Lorena says she’s missing the soul.  

Next up to defend their concept is Krystal and Greg. OH, THIS IS FUNNY! Bobby asks them what their concept is. And she has memorized a stock phrase so she doesn’t get confused and doesn’t confuse them. “We want to grill a variety of meats as well as serve shared dishes of southern-inspired food.” Think Hal, the robot, as you read that.  Curtis asks them a question and they still can’t answer what dishes they would actually serve. Bobby says he thinks it’s over (for them).

Oh gosh, Marisa is next. Just send them ALL home. Whatever, she’s a moron. Bobby kind of wants to keep her. Curtis doesn’t. They discuss and actually they all give good reasons to send each one home. I want them all to go home, but I hope it’s the grill folks. 

And going home is…Marisa. Steve says (to us) that she probably doesn’t have the judgment necessary to run a restaurant. The others do?

This show is growing on me. Why, I wonder? I guess I must need an outlet for negativity and criticism. There is just so much to object to, so many folks who are so clueless that you just have to wonder…how did they make it this far??! 

1 comment:

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