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"The Restaurant" or "Last Restaurant Standing" (as Americans call it)

New series starts on BBC next week. Similar format to the previous two.

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  1. Thanks, Harters. Assume we in the U.S. will have to wait a little longer for it. BTW, do you know if the winners of season 2 ever opened a restaurant with the host?

    1 Reply
    1. re: intuitive eggplant

      Yep. Opened in the summer:


      Looking at the map, I see I pass nearby on my infrequent trips to the south east so may be able to pop in for lunch if the time is right.

    2. I enjoy watching the series, but the ultimate point does not seem that successful, so far. The couple from the first season gave up their restaurant after a few months. The second season winners were delayed in starting their restaurant due to the bad economy.

      Kind of like Next Food Network Star. Not many "stars" are created.

      1. I enjoy this show and look forward to its return on BBC-America, unfortunately it doesn't come until the Spring.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Justpaula

          I hope someone lets us know when it starts. I don't watch much BBC america, but loved that show last season. I did crack me up (as an american) that they felt the need to subtitle Raymond Blanc often, while leaving the Brits unsubtitled. This, of course, makes sense in the UK, but here, I found RB *much* easier to understand than a few of the contestants (loved the woman who kept pronouncing it Sir Walter Reilly).

          1. re: LulusMom

            Interesting that they subtitle RB for you - they don't here. But then he speaks much better English than I do French.

            I recall a thread discussing the first series when a number of Americans had difficulty understanding some of our regional accents. But then, when I visit the US, I'm often asked if I'm from New Zealand. And, no, my accent is nothing like the Kiwi one.

            I think we probably struggle less with American accents as there's so many on TV imports and film.

            1. re: Harters

              I like to think I understand most British accents (my first MIL was from Southampton, my current in-laws from Scotland - lord knows where the next batch will be from - kidding!). I've been to visit many times, but there were some accents on that particular series I found I couldn't follow. Never had a problem with RB.
              But VERY odd that they don't subtitle him for you but do for us.

              Now, I can see confusing an Aussie accent with a Kiwi accent, but never a Brit with a Kiwi. I think some americans just think anything from the empire sounds the same (therefore V. Beckham sounds like Prince C).

              1. re: LulusMom

                I don't think it's odd that the don't subtitle RB here - his English is pretty good and easy to understand. I LOVE Raymond and his accent - my leetle vege-tables has become a catchphrase in our house!

        2. So are they changing the format this season so that they don't get their own restaurants? I was surprised that Raymond didn't cut the team that just layed out some bad smoked salmon like he did last season with the team that just mixed mango puree with cream.

          1 Reply
          1. re: gyc

            Well, he was right to cut the ones trying to open a tin with a knife. And, yes, I'm surprised he didnt also cut the smoked salmon couple . But then, mum & son had no clue about the concept of their restaurant - for heaven's sake, they have weeks if not months to prepare from when they first apply to when they actually start filming.

            And it does look as if they may be changing the format. Next week seems to have them all cooking at chain restaurants. Had to admire the bottle of the hospital chef if cooking Raymond's signature choccie fondant - even if he did overcook it. But arent there some absolutely useless cooks! I mean - absolutely useless.

          2. Ahha. On to the restaurants.

            Thought this weeks challenge of working in a chain restaurant was good and certainly showed up those for whom there is probably no glimmer of hope. Nice to see local mini-chain, Tampopo, feature alongside the big players (Mrs H vaguely knows the company's founder as they both used to work for the same employer).

            1 Reply
            1. re: Harters

              The episode was certainly very interesting, and a good way to judge how the contestants would handle the pressure of running their own restaurants.

              I would say that the pairs that were assigned to the Asian stir-fry chain, especially the bartending duo, drew the short end of the stick. Wok frying technique, especially being able to handle the high heat from the special wok burners, definitely takes some practice, and seemed much harder than making pizzas or rolling sushi. I was very impressed that the other chef was able to handle it with such ease, although it might've been expected since he's one of the few contestants that actually has professional kitchen experience.

              I will be looking forward to the next episode since we'll actually be able to see how each of the groups handle their own restaurants.

            2. I like the new format, dispensing with the "challenge". I always thought that was just stringing things out for the sake of another programme. This is much tighter.

              As for last night, another obvious decision. The two girls were pretty clueless - as all three judges had pointed out, they had a concept that was all but impossible to make work. Of course, it's possible (and very desirable, IMO) for a place to try to source locally raised produce - but you simply cannot do it if you want ALL local produce.

              But, even worse was their delivery. OK, it was a problem having the oven break so they couldnt take cooked food out as samples. But then when they decided to have the goats cheese crostini thingy, they use French not local goats cheese - unbelievable that they couldnt source something local in a city as large as Bristol. And then chaos when it came to the evening service.

              Next week, it has to be the two bar guys. Useless. Just bloody useless.

              1. I watched the first 2 seasons recently and enjoyed them. I will have to start watching season 3 before I read the rest of this thread. I figured it was a typical "Reality" show outcome like the "Apprentice" in the USA where the winner doesn't really work for Trump....most of the time...

                1. I suspect there were at least two couples breathing a deep sigh of relief this week. The two bar guys continued to be useless, as did the two women doing "westernised Nigerian" food. Both saved by the two soldiers deciding they didnt want to continue, so Raymond's decision was made for him.

                  But you'd really have to say that, amongst all of them, there really isnt a restaurant you'd want to go and eat in. And, more to the point, there certainly isnt one you think of investing in. I'd thought the "Rags to Riches" guys would probably go all the way and, whilst the food is good, the front of house guy is such an unpleasant shit, I'll not be surprised if a customer doesnt give him a Glasgow Kiss or similar.

                  1. The sheer dismalness of this continues. Not only would you never even consider investing in any of these couples, you'd never consider eating in any of their restauants.


                    1) you were pissed out of your head and

                    2) it was for a large bet.

                    And, even then, if it was me, I'd never be able to tell you, so you didnt lose respect for me.

                    But out of this awfulness, an oil slick of something truly crap rose to the surface.

                    The "westernised Nigerian" decided to to put on a fairly standard Brit BBQ - steak, sausages and the like. Concept completely lost. And for their "special guests" (a rugby team) they did, as requested, a carb. free meal. That's carb free as in WITH pasta, potato salad and loads of bread.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Harters

                      It's a shame about Barney and Badger. It seemed like they had the complete package and they would've been the only couple any sane person would even consider opening a restaurant with. They might as well scrap the series for lack of a single worthy winner.

                      1. re: gyc

                        I was really sad that those two had to go :( I like the Front Room couple, but they seem not to be able to handle the pressure.

                        1. re: spellweaver16

                          It's got to be between "Rags to Riches" and the "Front Room". Hasn't it?

                          At least both chefs appear to be able to cook reasonably well. It's FoH that lets them down.

                          But I agree about Barney & Badger. Badger was everything you expect from the owner of a good local place - from the warm welcome when you arrive to the handshake when you leave.

                          1. re: Harters

                            Rags and Riches will most definitely need somebody else running FoH. He improved in the last episode but I am still not convinced. Good lord, he was awful in previous episodes! Front Room has a decent cook who cares and FoH seems to be just fine. I suppose I have to root for them, with Barrington & Badger gone.

                            1. re: spellweaver16

                              The only thing I have against the couple running the Front Room was when the wife looked like she was going to gag when she saw the amuse bouche Raymond had sent over. I give her credit for actually tasting it, but I'm still kind of holding that against them.

                              1. re: spellweaver16

                                "I suppose I have to root for them,"

                                Yeah, but.....

                                .......would *you* put your own money into their business?

                                No, me neither!


                                1. re: Harters

                                  As long as some of it goes towards relaxation techniques and quite possibly medication! lol

                      2. So, no-one thrown out this week. At first I wondered if it was because they were all equally crap and perhaps there's something in that.

                        However, Mrs Harters has a more credible theory. Folk'll remember that, in the first programme, one couple were thrown out because they were simply unsafe. Numbers reduced, it left the programme makers one week short of what they must have contracted to produce. So, everyone gets another chance to make the time right.

                        That said, it was another week with the cooks at both Front Room and Rags to Riches let down by Front of House.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Harters

                          Yeah that might be it. Another theory might be that Raymond really wanted to eliminate J.J. and James, but even though J.J. still couldn't cook anything they still had a better dinner service than Chris and Nathan.

                          So if Raymond had to eliminate the worst team he would've had to eliminate Chris and Nathan, but it would be a total joke for a team like J.J. and James that can't cook to make the finals, so he had to keep all three teams.

                          1. re: gyc

                            Very good point.

                            By the by, I was asked upthread about the winners of Series 2. My next trip south is not till February and I'm considering trying the Cheerful Soul for lunch. However, the only online reviews I've found (on TripAdvisor) are very mixed - both about food and service. It's also odd, in this day and age, that the restaurant does not have a website (although it is listed on Raymond Blanc's website this is really just a link to publicity about the opening.)

                          2. re: Harters

                            I'd like to know why cocktails aren't part of Summer House's regular menu? That's what they seem to be best at! But when it comes to food...maybe they should stick to bartending. I'm sick of looking at scotch eggs.

                            1. re: spellweaver16

                              'tis impossible to avoid the Scotch egg these days. At least in certain types of establishment.

                              It's become the item to , erm, "develop". Mostly not an improvement on the original. Buit I bought a great one from the farmers market the other week - duck egg, wrapped in Palma ham , then the sausage meat and a very peppery coating of breadcrumbs. Was a bargain at two quid.

                          3. Please, oh please keep us posted on this! We started watching while we were in France last month, and I miss it!! I understand the two Army guys basically gave up, but exactly what were the circumstances... I read they blew off a challenge? One guy said he couldn't cope outside the Army? (And had they both left the service to do this?)


                            4 Replies
                            1. re: waldrons

                              Hi Susan

                              You didnt really get to see what really caused the Army guys to give up. The challenge was to serve food at a farmers market and they were going to do a soup. The previous evening, there'd been a SNAFU over the cup sizes for the soup but it all seemed OK - they were going to get smaller ones early next morning. But they just didnt turn up at the market.

                              However, the second part of the challenge was to run a normal evening service and they were fine at this. Good food cooked; Badger really good front-of-house. You thought it was all OK.

                              But, yes, basically Badger said this wasnt for him as it was so different from the army. And he couldnt cope and didnt want to carry on. I don't think it was ever made clear about whether both had left the army but I assume they must have - the army doesnt just let soldiers wander off to do something else for weeks at a time. In the first show, it was mentioned that the two had only met a few weeks before, so I guess it's possible they were on a long period of leave or something.


                              1. re: Harters

                                John, thanks for filling in the blanks for me. Wow, it's hard to believe an Army guy would just quit like that! And they really seemed to have their feet on the ground compared to some others.

                                (I knew the one guy had left the Army, but wondered if the other was on a long leave. Who knows?)


                                1. re: waldrons


                                  Since I posted, I've found a bit more. Badger had definitely left the army but Barney was still a serving soldier - a cook at a UK barracks. Bearing in mind that the couple are not really running the restaurant full-time (only opening one or two nights a week), then he could probably easily arrange time off with his senior officers.


                                  1. re: Harters


                                    Thanks for the research... that's really interesting. I guess the Army would consider it good PR to be flexible for something like this. (Even more so if they'd stuck it out and won!)


                            2. I suppose it's no surprise that Rags to Riches will be one of the finalists but I'm gob-smacked to see JJ & James also there. Yes, I know the Front Room couple would fall to pieces if they had to run a real restaurant but I thought they'd be there in the last two.

                              Is it now a foregone conclusion that Rags to Riches wins? You'd have to think so.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: Harters

                                I was totally shocked when Raymond announced his decision. In the last two seasons, Raymond seemed to be biased towards couples with a very strong cook running the kitchen, so it was shocking to have him keep JJ and James' restaurant open week after week. If I were a betting man at the start of the series, I would've bet my money on them not lasting more than 2 weeks!

                                It's also really shocking how weak the teams are this series. Of course, it doesn't help when the two most well-rounded teams basically imploded, thus leaving a team that has no idea how to run the kitchen, and a team that has no idea how to run the front of the house.

                                I feel sorry for Sarah and David that they're going to be investing their money with either of the two remaining teams.

                                1. re: gyc

                                  I think we're in agreement about how poor its been generally. Unlike the previous series, there doesnt seem to be any sign of couples really improving week on week - and the challenges have been silly. Whether a couple can deliver a "cooking set" to a group of punters does nothing to tell you whether they can run a restaurant. And if a man is scared about standing up in front of folk then, in my real life, I've given talks to groups of people and I know exactly how he felt.

                                  I suspect that this is the last series we'll see. I notice, for example, that the BBC hasnt had a webpage this time and any real information about contestants, etc, is on Blanc's website. Perhaps there was a contractual obligation for three series whatever?

                                  1. re: Harters

                                    I couldn't agree more...I found myself screaming at the TV set last night although I had rightly predicted that the two posh twits would be kept in using any pathetic excuse...This series has been a complete joke and as you've said, the challenges have been mostly poor and uninteresting.

                                    Stephen and Rebecca were probably the only ones who have worked really hard apart from Badger and the other guy but somehow the choose the telegenic, superficial ones...coincidence? I don't think so...Stephen overcame his fear to give the best demonstration by far out of the three...they also gave the best cookery lesson with the most participants and he notably improved his cooking style as the series went on. I sincerely hope that they manage to open their own restaujrant in their own terms and I wish them all the success that they thoroughly deserve.

                                    To have put through to the final somebody who cannot cook to save his life is beyond a travesty. I used to have some respect for Monsieur Blanc but I'm afraid to say I think it's all a fix and the programme is not about food anymore but about marketing and personalities. A real shame.

                                    1. re: Paula76

                                      I can only assume it's because JJ and James have proven business acumen - ie their bar in London. Raymond also said that JJ had an "excellent palate" and could be trained.

                                      Anyhow, I saw both of them in reception at work today (BBC). Not sure what that means in terms of them winning or not.

                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                        Oh, Gawd. I suspect if they were in the studio today, it probably means they had won and were filming some congratulatory programme. Back in a couple of hours to discuss after the whole miserable event has finished.

                                        Doomed....doomed...we're all doomed.

                              2. What a complete farce.
                                Chris and Nate competently served all of their courses. Their only hiccup in the kitchen was serving tepid soup, and that was mostly down to the delay in starting dinner. Chris mentioned that he had never made souffle either and he seemed to do a competent job.

                                James and J.J. made risotto into wallpaper paste and completely screwed up the souffle. I'll even give their oversized hors d'oeuvres a pass since it seemed like it was relatively tasty. And even when they did well with the roast beef, it required basically very little technical skill besides sticking a piece of beef in the oven and checking its internal temperature with a meat thermometer.

                                I'll concede that James was probably better front of the house than Nathan, but it seemed like a fairly marginal edge in the final episode, and it didn't even begin to make up the gulf in the quality of cooking coming out of the two kitchens.

                                And James and J.J. wins because, once again, they used cocktails as a crutch to mask their incompetence in the kitchen??? Are Sarah and David planning on opening up a nightclub instead of a restaurant?

                                I am completely disgusted by the result

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: gyc

                                  Complete farce as you say.

                                  Even Chris' soup was apparently well flavoured even if served tepid (after having been told to keep it hanging about for an hour due to late guests).

                                  You really have to wonder about the integrity of the judges after this. And the honesty of the programme making. Or perhaps it's just a really shrewd move - hoping any restaurant with JJ & James will fold so quickly that they won't lose much money.

                                  I can't see myself rushing to watch another series if the BBC is daft enough to commission one.

                                  1. re: Harters

                                    The only thing I could think about after J.J.'s attempt at "risotto" was that Gordon Ramsay would've called him a donkey and kicked him out of the kitchen. Maybe that's one of the reasons why Gordon Ramsay, as much of a famewhore as he might be, still has more Michelin stars than Raymond Blanc.

                                    1. re: gyc

                                      Posters on a couple of TV boards are entirely consistent in their surprise at Blanc's decision and condemnation of it.

                                      I like the description, by a number of posters on the BBC Food Message Board, of JJ and James as the "Winkers". Of course, it's impossible to know if this is a reference to JJ winking at RB on the first episode or if it is a typo :-0

                                      1. re: Harters

                                        I was so disgusted last night that my boyfriend almost had to restrain me so I wouldn't punch the TV set! However, from even before the episode started I said to him that I was almost sure that the 'winkers' (brilliant epithet that is, although the version with an 'a' seems to be even more fitting) would get it. It just looked as if everything had been set up with that in mind.

                                        Then I had a brief moment of hope thinking that somebody who can not cook a basic risotto, who would order vegetables instead of picking them fresh (as Raymond always insists is soooo important!), who has no clear passion for food (another one of Raymond's pointless slogans) and who cannot even follow a recipe for soufflé could not possibly be picked...

                                        Chris was amazing in timing, presentation and flavours throughout. He worked his behind off and demonstrated skills, talent and passion in droves...Yes; Nathan was a bit useless but come on!!! My theory is that Chris and Nathan as well as Badger & Barney and Stephen & Rebecca are from a working class background, therefore not good enough to invest in (especially from the point of view of David Moore)

                                        Very sad and dissapointing result. I am, for one, glad I never ever set foot in any of Monsieur Blanc's establishments and I have now vowed never to do so because I have lost all respect for the guy.

                                        1. re: Paula76

                                          I reckon that the only way M. Blanc and cronies could make this work is if they hire a decent chef. JJ can then do his cocktail shaking behind the bar and have his "concepts" and James do his thing front-of-house (I actually think he's quite good F-o-H in that "smug flash git" way that makes you want to take him down the alley for a good kicking).

                                          1. re: Harters

                                            That's my guess as well. James and JJ have proven business skills, and I believe that's why they won. They'll simply hire a decent chef - or maybe Chris! i would be really, really annoyed if I was Chris and Nathan - complete travesty.

                                2. Raymond Blanc has posted a blog entry on his website explaining his reasoning for picking the winner:


                                  In it, he states that "Chris faltered at the last hurdle - it was the final" without explaining himself. But surely Chris serving a complete menu of well-cooked dishes can't possibly be considered to have faltered given that he completely outclassed J.J. in the kitchen?

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: gyc

                                    Much as I have respected RB over the years, I think he writes complete tosh in the blog. However, it's his money to do with as he wishes - thankfully I am not an investor in this nonense. I do, however, resent being taken for a mug by him - as a viewer - and I'm sure so do some of the other contestants.

                                    1. re: Harters

                                      I know a lot goes on in a kitchen that I don't want to know about, but I don't think I could eat in a place run by JJ and James. Filthy. JJ's dirty fingernails made me want to gag, and the hands constantly in the hair, by both of them.

                                      Why would anyone give a restaurant to people who know nothing about food? I'm amazed on this show how little it is about the actual creation of a really good meal.

                                  2. Latest news is that JJ and James are planning to open a "restaurant" in London that will sell "British tapas".
                                    I'm still in absolute shock that they won. Like other posters, I can't see there being another series of this, which is a shame as the previous two were so much better. I just got the feeling this time that no one could really be bothered - both competitors and judges. But hey, the Js have got what they wanted - publicity and backing for opening what will essentially be a poncey bar with snacks. To my mind, not what the show was ever about.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: juniper77

                                      The TV boards continue to be fascinating reading. This one has someone posting claiming to be one of the contestants (and, from the comments, almost certainly is). Well worth a read - she starts posting on 21/12. you're looking for goddess_1