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Anyone else watching "America's Next Great Restaurant"? * Spoilers *

Wow, some "interesting" personalities, so far. Did that Big Wang owner really say that? wow.

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  1. I am - and enjoying it more than I thought I would. It is not a cooking show, but a restaurant show, so I didn't expect a lot of Top Chef - style food prep. Some of the concepts are good, some are, well, different. Entertaining enough for me to watch the next episode, anyway.

    I couldn't believe that Big Wang guy, and it would honestly make me avoid his places. There's too much good food out there to give business to jerks.

    edited to add - just jumped up a notch because they booted the Big Wang guy instead of keeping him for "drama".

      1. re: AMFM

        it is on now, Sunday 8 - 9 pm, on NBC. Tonight is the pilot, not sure if this is the regular time/day for all episodes.

        1. re: AMFM

          NBC. 7 pm central time. right now for me.

          1. re: Nicolette S

            thanks for adding the Spoilers to the title - sorry, I shouldn't have added that last comment, but he really ticked me off!

            1. re: elfcook

              Nothing at all wrong with that comment. I should have included "spoilers" in the title from the start. How can we talk about it without talking about it?

              SO glad the Big Wang was rejected. What an ass.

        2. I kind of liked the idea of a pot pie restaurant. I kind of have difficulty imagining a chain of "Saucy Balls" restaurants, but maybe it's in our future?

          3 Replies
          1. re: jackbauer

            I'm with you re: Saucy Balls.

            It reminds me of the future in Idiocracy where the top TV show was "Ow, my balls"

            1. re: jackbauer

              Surely it's not. But the name's fun and the guy's got a big heart so until he gets winnowed out he'll make good TV.

              1. re: jackbauer

                The pot pie restaurant was going to be called "Potbelli" which seems awfully similar to Potbelly's Sandwich chain. A 10 second google search could have figured that out, I'm surprised the contestant didn't know about copyright infringement.

              2. The show is engaging but I'm finding it hard to believe these are the best ideas in America.

                16 Replies
                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                  they're not. mine was better, but i didn't get cast. i'm a little bitter ;)

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    Interesting ghg! DId you get to pitch to the judges?

                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                      no, and that's probably the biggest reason why i didn't make it very far. they *told* us we were pitching to the judges...and then after standing in line for over six hours (the first part during torrential rains) with a cooler and 2 bags full of food and props i had painstakingly prepared, they threw me in an empty, raw industrial building space in front of a single camera with a spotlight in my face and a PA behind it who told me i had 30 seconds to convince them to cast me, and that there was no one to taste my food and if i wanted it to be part of my presentation i could just put it on one of my trays and hold it up under my chin while i was talking so that it would be in the frame.

                      i. was. FURIOUS. i had prepared for DAYS, driven up from San Diego the night before & gotten a hotel room with a refrigerator so i could keep the food fresh, brought knives, cutting board, etc for last-minute garnishing...even the people in line with me were impressed with the spread. but once they turned on that camera i FROZE because it wasn't at all what i was expecting, and i got completely flustered, totally tripped over my words and couldn't get out what i wanted to say. and the worst part? i didn't want to schlep all the food back home with me, so after i tanked in front of the camera i set it all out on trays - with the plates, utensils, etc i had brought for the JUDGES to use - and let the people in my "group" (from the waiting line) eat it...and i overheard several of them whispering that they were relieved we hadn't gone in front of the judges because if they had tasted how good my food was, i definitely would have been chosen.

                      it was a MISERABLE 5-hour drive home in rush hour traffic - i spent the entire time beating myself up & cursing out everyone on the road :)

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        Oh my, what a heartbreaking experience and, highly ineffective casting process. If that process is an indication of the professionalism you could expect from the organizers you are undoubtedly better off to have cut your losses early on as I can only imagine how much more frustration was ahead in the "next steps".

                        Based on what you've shared, I'm wondering if the "investors" already had a concept in mind before casting even started and were really only looking for one person that they thought came close to that vision and, a group of other folks that would just make for interesting television.

                        As we all know, restaurant/hospitality industry investments are always risky and even more so in these economic times. I can only imagine that if real money is being invested that business plans, SWOT analysis, target market and demographics would all have to be completed well in advance. That's what make me think they already have a good idea of what the next "big idea" will likely look like in the fast food industry and if so, casting would be much, much simpler for them.

                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                          the entire process was a mess. i got there an hour early in torrential rain, and there were already 126 people ahead of me....and the organizers were trying to figure out where to PUT us in the storm...we ended up lining up along the wall of the parking garage.

                          as the day went on we started to figure out what was *really* up...some guy who had applied for Top Chef in the past said he had been *invited* to attend the casting; people in line recognized some woman from another reality show who appeared later in the afternoon and got to cut in front of those of us who had already been waiting for nearly 5 hours.

                          it was NOT all about the ideas.

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            I've heard that in the past on these boards ghg, unfortunately they're likely just looking for "characters" to fill pre-determined profiles that would make for an interesting show. I recall someone else saying it was "all about the drama" at a casting call they attended.

                            Sorry you had to go through all that. I can't help but think that if "good health" was fundamental to your concept, that in fact your idea is solid for today's market.

                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                              thanks for the kind words. at the very least, it was certainly a good learning experience! ;) and yes, my idea is grounded in "good health" with an angle that no one has yet tackled...which is why i think the judges really would have liked it, considering that they did select several health-focused ideas to move on to the final 10.

                              oh well, live & learn!

                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                I think at least a few of the contestants were there to be cannon fodder. The one girl who though you could make tasty soup by pureeing random ingredients in a blender and had no idea how to market soup in warm locations comes to mind.

                                1. re: msjess

                                  it was pretty funny when Bobby ended up with her soup in his lap. it sorta looked like vomit, and i just kept thinking that he was lucky it was actually *soup* because she was so nervous she looked like she was about to lose her lunch.

                                  when i went to the casting and *believed* i was going to be presenting to the judging panel, i called my folks while standing in line and told them my biggest fear was that my nerves would get the better of me and i'd throw up on Bobby Flay's shoes.

                            2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              <<it was NOT all about the ideas.>>

                              Reality TV rarely is.

                              Still, I'm sorry for what you went through.

                              1. re: chicgail

                                thanks, appreciate the sentiment...and i'm over it now :)

                          2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            This show is terrible and I'm not surprised to hear your tale ghg. Truly wish it had been different. They could have done so much more. I kept asking myself how on earth these were the best 21 ideas. Not and not gonna watch no more. Also not sure if I should feel sorry for Bobby Flay or have a loss of respect. Just a terrible, terrible show.


                            1. re: JuniorBalloon

                              i'm holding out hope that it will be more interesting to watch as they engage in the actual challenges...the only thing that still really disappoints me about not making it is how much invaluable experience and education the contestants are going to get as they're put through the paces.

                            2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              OUCH. Sounds awful and not very well thought out from their part. So sorry you went to all that trouble for THAT.

                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                Sounds like a horrible experience. No doubt they were merely looking for characters to fill places along side the predetermined concept as is often the case with 'reality' shows.

                        2. I watched it on and off this evening while doing other things, so I got the jist but not every detail. It seems ok to me for a network reality show effort. I will tune in now that the competitors are chosen and I assume some challenges will occur, and see how it progresses. Not much competition in that time slot anyway.

                          I found the judges discussions interesting re: what may make a good restaurant concept within the general category of fast casual.

                          Yeah - best ideas from peeople with the confidence and willingness to sign on for the public humiliaiton of a network TV reality show...that thins the field a bit, I would imagine.

                          1. Curtis Stone summed it up "Wow...is this the best America has to offer?"

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: monku

                              Speaking of curtis stone, just the night before I watched him and boby flag grill salmon on iron chef. Yes I'm a reality cooking show junkie. Are there really so few "reality show chefs" out there! (He's cute though)

                              1. re: monku

                                Ist he the new host of TC Masters?

                                1. re: dave_c

                                  He's pretty much everywhere lately.

                              2. one of Joe's business partners used to be a very close friend of mine, so i hung out with him a few times years ago when they were just opening their first location of Big Wangs. i definitely don't recall him being such an ass - i guess the success of their restaurants has gone to his head.

                                1. The "Saucy Balls" guy reminded me of Alec Baldwin's SNL "Schweddy Ball's" routine.

                                  11 Replies
                                  1. re: monku

                                    Except this guy had so much more "gusto". I read that they'll try to talk him out of that name later on.

                                    I too thought pot pies would be an okay idea, if you think to the British pie shops. Not sure they'd translate to this country.

                                    I was just in LA and bopped into Big Wang's. No one else seems to be such a putz, at least in last nite's episode.

                                    Lots of Curtis for one nite, he made an appearance on Celeb Apprentice too.

                                    GHG, did you say what your restaurant idea was? That's too bad it fell apart like that.

                                    1. re: Joanie

                                      the funniest thing about the pot pie woman was her comment that "it doesn't matter" when they asked her how many grams of fat were in one. you *know* the answer can't be good :)

                                      and no, i didn't mention my idea...and i'm not going to, because i'm still hopeful that i'll find a way to make it happen and the last thing i need is some stranger reading about it here and stealing it!

                                          1. re: Joanie

                                            Joanie, i hope you didn't take offense to my earlier response. i certainly didn't mean to imply that a fellow Chowhound would steal my concept...i was thinking more about random lurkers ;) but seriously, i've had unfortunate experience with people stealing my ideas *and* plagiarizing my work - happened more than once back in my advertising/PR & editorial days - so i'm just playing it safe with this one.

                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                              No problem, I had a feeling that was the issue when you weren't forthcoming. I'd protect my ideas too.

                                              I thought of another thing regarding this show. Lots of the people presenting stated right off they weren't chefs yet they were supposed to impress the judges with their food. Plus when they made that guy see how many grilled cheeses he could do in 15 min, it's completely not the same as if a real restaurant were doing an order for a bunch of sandwiches. I'm surprised the guy from Zinc in Lenox had such a boring idea.

                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                Check out the disclaimer at the very end of the show, something about the idea isn't the sole property of the contestant, but some kind of sharing arrangement with I would assume the "investors" and probably the producers of the show.

                                                1. re: monku

                                                  oh i know that once you get onto the show you pretty much have to sign your life away...that's the one thing that really made me feel better about not making it.

                                            2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                              Well, I would never be in a position to make my idea a reality, but I'd be a steady customer. As I suggested in a post about fantasy restaurants a few years ago, mine would be the International House of Dumplings. Just about every cuisine has them in one form or another, and I never met one I didn't like. Anyone out there want to open one near Boston?

                                              1. re: greygarious

                                                Mmmmmmm, I sure do hope that Boston outfit delivers to Toronto! Fabulous idea greygarious!!!

                                          2. re: monku

                                            I'm gonna go even older school on you and bring up the MTV sketch comedy show "The State"


                                            Disclaimer if easily ...or maybe not so easily offended do not go to link.

                                            More disclaimer no nudity or bad language.


                                          3. I was surprised that I enjoyed the show and was pulling for some of the people.

                                            What floored me was the fact that two people had "wings and things" concepts. Can we just put that concept to bed already? I half expected someone to come out with a Chicago Hot Dog concept.

                                            I will watch again next week. It was rather entertaining.

                                            1. random note for fellow Angelenos - Alex, the "hard & soft taco" guy is the manager at The Arsenal in W LA.

                                              1. I just happened upon this as I was waiting for the chopped episode. I thought most of the ideas were awful. But then again, I'm the kind of person that only eats out a few times a year, and when I do, it's not at a place like that. But I thought the woman who seemed to sort of take the idea of "subway sandwich shop" and do it with a wok was a good one, and also the "Compleat" idea where you can choose things that add up to a reasonable level of calories.

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: DGresh

                                                  What I thought was interesting is that the wok idea that you mention already exists in at least two forms in my neck of the woods (Edmonton, Canada), with two different franchises in my city. One of the franchises (called 'Wok Box Fresh Asian Kitchen') has 12 locations in my city alone, plus others across Canada. The other, called 'Oodle Noodles' has a few in my city too - maybe 3 or 4, so apparently this concept is working. Both offer quick stir frys which are customizable with what kind of noodle you want plus protein choice, and a bunch of different sauces.

                                                  1. re: MrsCris

                                                    I thought that was basically what Mongolian BBQ has always been. You get in a line, pick up your meats, vegetables, and sauces, and give it to the chef to stir fry it all together. If you want rice you can have it. The only addition is noodles, but some may have noodle options..

                                                    1. re: Jwsel

                                                      I agree, Mongolian BBQ was immediately what I thought, I guess this concept just takes the self-serve aspect out.

                                                      1. re: saeyedoc

                                                        Me, too. That's exactly how I remember it.

                                                  2. re: DGresh

                                                    There's already a chain that does wok to order, www.freshcity.com.

                                                  3. I'm a little skeptical about the whole show.
                                                    None of the ideas really peeked my interest as exciting new ideas that would get my business. The judging panel are investors using their own money to invest in one of the ideas. Opening three restaurants from the ground up could easily cost upwards of a couple million dollars. There was a disclaimer that flashed on the screen quickly at the very end. Being able to read only the first few sentences, something to the effect that the winner's idea isn't their sole property but some sharing arrangement with the investors and others.

                                                    Interview with Bobby Flay and Steven Ells(Chipotle)

                                                    1. Haven't seen it. First off, I just am not a fan of Bobby Flay. I would rather look at pictures of Alfred E. Newman instead. That said, I'm just getting kind of sick of these "food" reality shows and competitions. I would much rather see an informative food show rather than this. Just my personal "taste" you could say!

                                                      1. Sorry, I thought it rather lame. The whole "Sorry but you're not going to be America's top ______" conceit is already tired and this version offers nothing compelling enough to turn that boat around.

                                                        1. I liked the 'Limbo' girl and her idea. And such an intelligent name too!

                                                          But in the end I know this is just a tv show meant to grab viewers for advertisers.

                                                          Some of the presenters reminded me of bad acts on "America's got talent".

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: pdxgastro

                                                            I unortunately missed the show..but can someone fill me in on what "The Big Wang" guy said...He's from the same town on the East Coast as I am and Im curious about how he was on the show

                                                            1. re: ChooseYrPoison

                                                              He was talking about his wings and I think the black guy was also doing wings and he said something like "well of course, 'they' know wings" (I know I didn't get that right). It wasn't said quietly either. He was just kind of douchey in general. I can't remember his other comments but it was almost as if he purposely said "controversial" things for the camera.

                                                              1. re: Joanie

                                                                i watched it again last night to be sure, since i was multitasking the first time around. Joe's comment was, "The black guy's doing wings too...because that's what they do."

                                                                i hope i don't run into him any time soon because i might have to slap him across the face for that comment. (fortunately he sticks to Hollywood, and i never make it over there anymore.)

                                                          2. Unfortunately I've been to Big Wangs many, many times. As I've gotten older and can afford to spend more than $3 on a beer, I've gone less and less. And I'll never go again.

                                                            PS, he mentioned his concept was "upscale sports bar food." He got the sports bar part right. The upscale? No. There are actually several beer places in the area, including a sports bar across the street from his Hollywood location, that do serve upscale food. His is regular bar food - wings, nachos, mozzarella sticks that come from the freezer, wraps, sandwiches, something called the "heart attack" which is fries or tater tots (frozen) with bacon and alfredo sauce. Just mediocre. Good greasy food for drinking. Not somewhere I'd go if I didn't want to 1) drink Stella or Pyramid Hef all night or 2) watch sports or 3) get run into by some frat boy who's getting into a fight and accidentally trips over my table.

                                                            1. I can't believe who is left out of who started. Its a bit surprising that indian food, soulfood, and meatballs are left. many concepts were much better out of what I've seen compared to what's marketable nationwide. I think over the process the investors (judges really wanted their fingerprints all over the concept that will open next week in 3 weeks. I see soul food as the winner, too many problems with consistent product doing indian food, and only meatballs seems limited.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: bigguns

                                                                I think the Indian guy will win and I think that's been obvious since early on.

                                                                I think they really missed out with the grilled cheese concept. It's already a very successful food truck concept.

                                                                1. re: msmerymac

                                                                  I thought the grilled-cheese guy had a chance - until it became apparent he made everything except grilled cheese. Then, the judges pressed him to make a grilled-cheese sandwich - and apparently it was bland. He also lost because he refused to take any significant advice from the investors.

                                                                  1. re: thomas64

                                                                    By the same token, Spice Coast lost because he took too much advice from the investors (Indian tacos?) and didn't stay true to his own concept. It looked in the end like he was trying to be an Indian clone of Chipotle. That being said the grill-cheese guy was completely uncoachable.

                                                                1. re: Withnail42

                                                                  I can't believe how much I hate this show. I am not a hateful man, but this show is shameless marketing and everyone on it should be boycotted. It has nothing to do with food or a good restaurant concept. No matter who wins the lines will be out the door...at least for a while.


                                                                  1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                    this show doesn't exactly have a lot of reach. i doubt the hype machine will work in their favor - especially since from what i can tell, it isnt favourably received

                                                                    what's so lame is that they are basically opening a mall food court restaurant --- almost every decent mall already has this kind of food.

                                                                2. it moves the mindless brain cells to the front of the brain to prepare for the apprentice, a true food experience with meat loaf the best dish in the cast.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: nobadfoodplz

                                                                    I undertand that steamed Bussey makes an excellent vegetable.