Friday, March 18, 2011

I Don’t Think America’s Next Great Restaurant Is Going To Come From “America’s Next Great Restaurant”

But They Mean Well.

I'm not sure I’m particularly in tune with what Bobby, Curtis, Chipotle guy and Lorena (it’s all about the love) Garcia are looking for in America’s Next Great Restaurant.

Last week, Fran was my absolute favorite with her Sports Wrap. I liked everything about her idea and I liked HER. I thought she should skip all this pesky competition stuff and just go straight to the win. Well, that's how much I know. SHE was the very first one kicked off at the end of this episode.

AND boring Greg, who was the absolute opposite of my favorite, WON by collecting the most number of silver coins at a giant food fest, signifying he was the diners’ overall favorite. 

Another least favorite of mine, Stephenie, did well this week too, showing again just how bad I am at predicting winners and losers. Plus if she mentions one more time that she went to Harvard Law School just because she was expected to, I’ll scream. Either shut up about it or go be a lawyer and tell someone who cares. Maybe this is her mother.

The episode did have a bit of drama. The contestants were allowed to pick their own chefs from a whole room of them after chatting for a bit to see who suited whom. There was a bit of pull and push between several competitors, who wanted the same chef. They decided to leave it up to the chefs to choose, which was darn nice of them, but turned out to be darn stupid for Fran. She and Taco Boy (TB) wanted the same chef. TB recognized the chef from a Gordon Ramsey restaurant and sweet-talked her and he got her.

Anyway, the whole chef thing was so random. The Indian guy had to make do with a Scandinavian chef. The only one who was smart about was it was Saucy Balls guy, who yelled into the room, “Who’s passionate about Italian food and loves Goodfellas?"  Basically, "Who knows how to handle Grandma’s balls?” or words to that effect. He ended up with a different chef anyway, but luckily his food turned out well, so the chef obviously knew how to bust out a delicious set of balls.

But wasn’t this a strange way to arrange things? Shouldn’t the chef of an operation be chosen with a little more thought and background than leaving it to a speed dating situation to determine? Go figure.

The folks also got to work with graphic designers. That was weird too. In general, it was more like they were hiring plumbers than experts in logo design.

Their challenge this week was to serve 1000 people (EACH, I think) at Universal Citywalk.

Now here’s something else nonsensical. These folks were supposed to be serving the food that represents their restaurant concept. But for this event, the chicken and waffles guy made gumbo. The stir fry person made a poorly cooked rice dish. The gal and guy team who wanted to serve wonderful Southern cooking on little plates made a TATER TOT CASSEROLE! Not kidding. It didn’t look much better than this one. Completely appalling. THEY should have gone home…just for using the words tater tots.  

Fran went home because her chef was a dunce and precooked all the chicken in advance and it was dried out. Oh, and she completely disregarded anything that the judges had to say, so they didn’t feel she was very teachable. But there hasn’t been much more than platitudes and catchphrases being offered by the “investors”, which matches the lackluster and, in some cases, really poorly conceived food.

But when the tater tot gal tried to explain away her atrocious food with “we mean well”, all I could wonder was what on earth are these people doing here. How can you have a great idea for a restaurant and not be able to make one single dish that illustrates what you’re going to serve? Strange, very strange.

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