America’s Next Great Restaurant ep01 Premiere

Tonight was the long anticipated premiere of American’s Next Great Restaurant on NBC. After a long preview we met the judges- Iron Chef Bobby Flay, all-over-TV-chef Curtis Stone, Steve “Chipotle” Ells, and Miami restaurateur Lorena Garcia,. The winner will open up 3 fast casual restaurants, one in LA, NYC and surprise?!! Minneapolis. Odd choice, I’m guessing Mall of America. The producers narrowed it down to the top 21 concepts for us without showing much of the selection process. Thanks guys.

We meet a few of the contestants and see their restaurant concepts. A little extra time is spent on the underdog guy from Detroit trying to save his family and his nemesis, the guy who runs the Big Wang mini-chain. The Big Wangs guy, who I would bet good money drives an obnoxiously colored Hummer, manages to piss off 3 people in 10 minutes…dbag.

The first concept presented to the judges is a fast talking girl who has a massive menu for a healthy restaurant and gives the judges a mac and cheese cupcake which probably tastes as bad as that sounds. Pass.

Next up is squeaky voice Aimee of the pet waste removal company with Soupz, a name inspired by…wait for it….soup. The judges look like they are about to throw up after tasting it. Bobby Flay spills some on his suit. Judges are concerned about year roundedness of it and reject her. Back to the poop for you!

Next up is the former WNBA star and her championship ring (which is markedly less blingy than the men’s rings) with her healthy sports wrap concept. She made a chicken wrap that came with a healthy tip paper like a fortune cookie and success, she made it through. Great leadership is what the judges liked. She could also probably beat up Curtis with one hand, so that’s a definite plus.

Financial manager Eric presented next with his Meltworks “grown up grilled cheeses” and a create your own menu idea. A good presentation, but he’s left hanging. Judges aren’t sure if the can cook them fast enough.

Next up NBC gives us a quick medley of four contestants, each with a losing idea that is rejected:
Brianne with her big giant inflatable bubble for Cafe Creativi which has nothing to do with anything and who the hell screened her?
Sina with his Persian burger, not confident enough about nationwide acceptance of the concept.
Nam Nam fast casual Vietnamese food. The guys seem completely unaware about the lack of waiters in a fast casual setting. Bzzt.
Pot Belly which is a pot pie fast food and is just too out there.

Out comes big Brooklyn Joe and his Saucey Balls, a meatballs concept, serving grandma’s meatballs. Brooklyn is through thanks to Grandma’s balls. Simple but well thought out idea. They love his balls. Who wouldn’t?

A pair of friends, ex-lover bartenders, Krystal and Greg, presented Hicks, a small bites and BBQ pit, tapas style southern comfort food, celebrating the American redneck. They give the judges a tasty banana cream pie. Through despite the possibly offensive description.

The next idea is Wok, made to order stir fry. Judges are having problem with the pre-cooking part of the concept but give her a pass because she’s not a chef. They are impressed with her PR, marketing and concept, she’s through to the top 10.

Big Wangs guy is up next with Lil’ Wangs with his wings and sports bar type pub food. Judges hate the wing flavor, knocking the dbag down a notch or two. See ya buddy, dont let the door hit you on the way out.

Naturally he is followed by his nemesis, W3’s waffles and chicken combo concept. You know with the amount of time they’re spending on him that he’s through and no surprise, he’s in. Clearly none of the judges have ever been to a Waffle House.

Restaurant owner Jason with his chicken wings and burgers concept tries to make it. Notice that he’s trying to butter up the judges with beer! Great strategy but he has to wait for a decision; they say his concept is not new or exciting but he has great experience.

Tiffin Box wows the judges with the Indian fast food idea by giving them some spicy green bean with toasted coconut. The judges are nervous about it being all vegetarian because it’s only 15% of population. He says he’ll add some meat and he’s in. This one looks good to me!

The not-Mexican Hard n’ soft taco bar goes next offering over 75 different types of fusion tacos. Judges want him to simplify the menu but they like it and he’s in. Sounds like a wrap shop with smaller tortillas if you asked me.

Compleat, fast casual with fixed calorie ranges for her meals. They don’t go into too much detail but they do like the healthy concept and top 10 it is for the lady.

Bartender Sandy talking about her Limbo concept which is both healthy and indulgent dishes on the same menu. She’s giving the judges braised pork and braised bison offering 800 or 400 calories for the same general dish. Great idea and she is in the top 10.

Now for the last spot it’s the judges deciding between Eric’s grilled cheese and Jason’s burgers/wings concept in a showdown sending them both back to the kitchen. Eric makes 29 gc’s in 15 minutes and Jason gives them an angus burger to sample. and the judges go with…grilled cheese.

Overall the show looks really good; the premiere was a bit of a rapid-fire introduction to the contestants. What will make or break the show in the coming weeks is the manner in which they eliminate them. Is it going to be fair? Will challenges be realistic? Will the judges show favoritism? The show has great potential, definitely one to watch on a busy Sunday night.

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