‘America’s Next Great Restaurant’
You’ve seen him as an iron chef, you may have seen him as a judge on “The Next Food Network Star,” but now Bobby Flay has a new role: mentor and investor on NBC’s “America’s Next Great Restaurant.”
Ten ordinary people will compete with their pitches for the next great fast-casual (a.k.a. “classy” fast food) American restaurant. The contestants are not chefs like on “Top Chef,” and some of them do not even cook. They all, however, have one thing in common—some really great ideas about the type of food Americans want to eat. The winner will win the opportunity to open up three restaurants somewhere in America, funded by judges Bobby Flay, Curtis Stone, Lorena Garcia and Steve Ells (founder of Chipotle!).
All of the restaurants have the potential to be huge. One woman wants to open up a chain of “stir-fry for the healthy heart,” while another contestant hopes to start up Meltworks to serve “grown-up grilled cheese.” Restaurant ideas come from all around the globe, and contestants will offer authentic Spanish food, convenient Indian food, kabob sliders and my favorite, a restaurant awesomely called Saucy Balls, which has been described as “the ultimate meatball experience.” One contestant even wants to open a “one-man chicken and waffles” operation, just like our very own Village House serves.
It will be interesting to see how these contestants fare (especially the entrepreneurs) in cooking challenges: One promo shows them in a contest that forces them to cook for 1,000 people. Although cooking shows seem to be taking over television these days, “America’s Next Great Restaurant” is different. It focuses not on the contestant, but on the food, and more importantly, the ideas. Check out the premiere episode on Sunday at 7 p.m. on NBC to find out if you could find yourself eating at Saucy Balls, or even saying its name without laughing.