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America's Next Great Restaurant, Spoilers, 4/10/11

(I don't think anyone wrote this up)

They go out in food trucks for this episode and somehow, no one's walking down Sunset Blvd. What was up with that? And Spice Works ends up making a taco and Curtis says he should be served humble pie cuz it was great. Does seem to make sense coming from a truck. Soul Daddy sold the most even tho he used canned beans, blech. If you really couldn't find fresh, wouldn't you grab the frozen ones (or switch veggies)? The Grill team did well, healthy gal not so much and Joey Meatballs' layout was all wrong even with the new name. Poor Sinners and Saints failed miserably. I missed her bad interactions with the new chef but two bad dishes and out she goes. I think Joey's gone next unless something really turns around.

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  1. The meatball guys marketing sense is so awful.. The images that were on his truck were embarrassing.. It's like he typed in Grandmas meatballs into google images and put the first 5 images on his truck.. I think that the Indian guy has the best concept of the bunch and is something that could really work in todays market..

    1 Reply
    1. re: SDGourmand

      Yeah: those were some awful representational photos, weren't they? It reminded me of those cheap Chinese restaurants with a laminated menu that displays really, um, un-photogenic food. As for the rest of it: My call is Spice Works or Grill'Billies, which are getting the most play and seem like solid marketing concepts. I was sorry to see Saints and Sinners go; I liked that concept as well, but she really needed to refine what she was doing and seemingly lost confidence in herself by second-guessing her choice of chefs. Speaking of whom, that guy was a total bust - quite patronizing to the woman who'd just employed him, IMO.

    2. OK...Deep breath

      So actually this was probably the best episode yet..I know not saying much.
      That being said I have really started pulling for the Spice Coast Indian concept. In my last comment on this show I stated how because of the d bagishness of the Chipotle guy I would not eat in his restaurant again. Well I broke down and did and funny thing ...He is railing on contestants about using certain ingredients yet at both the Chipotle I went to there was a sign saying how there chicken supplier was out of free range chickens...guess they ran away ...so they had to buy processed chicken. You or at least I could taste the difference. The other thing is one of the times this week I ordered a chicken burrito with rice ,black beans,Guacamole,sour cream, and chicken. ...somehow they rolled in a way that the first half was all rice and beans next quarter was the guacamole and sour cream and last quarter was the chicken.

      sorry got off track there a bit but my point is this guy is an A hole and has so soured me on his company.

      1. I'm with the crowd; I like the Spice one best. Love Indian food, but you can really have to search for it, and then plan a whole sit-down event. I'd love a "fast" Indian restaurant. He seems to have his act together and be progressing in a way to make the investors happy. There are a million restaurants selling ribs and fries. I don't see GrillBillies as anything especially new or innovative.

        1. Saints and Sinners made a huge mistake by thinking she could serve mac and cheese from a truck. Mushy pasta, and I imagine, grainy cheese -- this could never hold up in a bain marie. The meatball guy has made my skin crawl from the very beginning, starting out with the name of his concept. I would never, in a million years, eat at a place called Saucy Balls, and then when I saw that sandwich sitting in the LA sun, with a scribble on a styrofoam container written in ballpoint pen, I just had to gasp and wonder, what is he thinking?

          I believe that Spice Coast is really onto something. Also, his Indian cuisine can conceptually be very tasty while having very low food costs, so I think he will surely be the winner. What's more, out of all of the contestants, he seems to be the only one who can actually cook well, and understands the food he is preparing.

          1 Reply
          1. re: pitterpatter

            Good point and he seems to have a solid grasp on financing as well. He has grown a lot in the short time that the show has been on.

          2. i have one MAJOR complaint about this show. week after week, the investors complain about two things:
            1) people not being willing to take their advice about their concepts
            2) lack or originality and want of a new concept


            1. health food place with set caloric values listed clearly on the menu for easy calorie counting selection---> "mediterranean food with fresh ingredients" when would you NOT want to use fresh ingredients when makin medi food?
            2. southern tapas ---> grilled food. a incredibly interesting concept becomes the most safe and unimaginative idea on the show
            3. heaven vs hell food---> kicked off. not because of a bad concept, but because they couldnt give her a chef that could turn out good decadent food??? i mean really. take a chef and tell them they have unlimited calories to just make something that tastes delicious??

            the one that really blows my mind is grill billies. i liked their idea, but they just needed coaching on how to make a tapas meal out of southern food

            6 Replies
            1. re: mattstolz

              I agree that the judges are making everything run of the mill. Must everything be in a taco or sandwich format? Who are these people that are walking around eating all the time? Personally I'd love a fast casual place that serves a nice meal that I can sit and enjoy. I think Curtis was right on that one.

              I loved the COMPLEAT idea with set caloric options, this whole medi concepot is not even close to the idea that Stephanie started out with, it completely morphed into something bland and generic.

              I did love the idea of grill billies, or hicks, but I really do not feel the contestants get the food at all. On another post someone said they were just two city people who they could be cool and ironic and make southern food but they do not get the food at all. Fortunately they seem to have a good chef. For southern food, I would definitely fo to Soul Daddy's instead (except for the canned green beans)!

              1. re: AmblerGirl

                I too didn't understand the canned green beans. The only vegetable worse in a can is peas.

                1. re: AmblerGirl

                  :must everything be in taco format?:

                  just makes it that much harder to believe that they got rid of the guy whos idea was to take anyone elses concept and put it in a taco! followed by suggesting the indian guy make a taco the next week!!

                  also, i would love to see someone who can successfully walk around and eat a chipotle burrito without getting it everywhere.

                  as for hicks: they may not have understood the food very well, but i feel like that is why you have 1) expert investors 2) chefs!

                2. re: mattstolz

                  I thought that the heaven v. hell failed this week not because the chef couldn't turn out good food. As far as I can tell Sandy chose the menu items and the mac & cheese, especially, didn't work in the food truck environment. Plus her "heaven" dish was brisket without bbq sauce. That just sounds boring and dry. I don't think it was the chef here. It was an unfleshed out concept. Which is too bad because I really liked Sandy.

                  1. re: chicgail

                    this is true i guess... but at the same time i guess i also think it is part of the chefs job to understand that a food like mac n cheese will do poorly when held in a food truck... or that brisket without sauce would be boring

                    1. re: mattstolz

                      Clearly it was everyone's mistake. But as the restaurant owner, Sandy does have to be ultimately accountable on a whole lot of different levels.

                3. I didn't see much of this episode. I'm not surprised to see the saint/ sinner gal go. I suppose I don't care enough to be surprised by any elimination. If I had to choose the person I would like to see win, it would have to be Soul Daddy. He seems to care the most. Since the winner will be opening a restaurant near me (my guess is it's not going to really be in Minneapolis but the Mall of America) I will say that the only way I would drive down to the MOA to eat at the new restaurant is if the winner is Grill Billies or Soul Daddy AND they get good reviews.

                  On second thought, it take more than a new restaurant to get me to go to the MOA on purpose.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: John E.

                    I would rather just go straight past the mall of America and directly to hell, given the choice. Whether there was food involved, or not.

                    1. re: mamachef

                      My ultimate goals in life include avoiding the Mall of America and Hell, in that order.

                      1. re: John E.

                        I'm not too worried about Hell since I'm prolly going straight there anyway and there's not enough time to exculpate my sins, but I'd avoid MN (and I have relatives there!) altogether to miss getting sucked into that abyss. If you look too long into the Mall, to paraphrase Neitzche, you become the mall.

                        1. re: mamachef

                          Oh come on, you don't have to avoid Minnesota all together. it's easy to avoid the MOA. Minnesota is great this time of year, until December, January and March.

                          1. re: John E.

                            John, I was being flip. I love MN. It's my second home and the home of my alma mater and a vast majority of relatives. I even like the winters there. Problem is, when we do go back it's generally a family deal and I have a daughter and a son who think the MOA is Valhalla. But they can always go there themselves. I blame myself for taking them there for their first time waaaaaay back in the day. A rollercoaster in the middle of a mall? Knott's Berry Farm in MN? Need I say more?

                            1. re: mamachef

                              I generally only go when out of town friends visit. (waaayyy out of town, if they live within a 5 state area, they don't need me along.) I once spent 12 hours there, 10am to 10pm. I barely survived.

                            2. re: John E.

                              "Minnesota is great this time of year, until December, January and March."

                              What makes Feb. in Minnesota okay?

                              1. re: Joanie

                                In February the weather frequently shapes up, but then in March it starts to thaw and you have to cope with slush and runoff.

                                1. re: Joanie

                                  It was a simple error of ommission on my part. February in Minnesota pretty much sucks too. This year I was lucky enough to miss much of it because I was in Arizona taking care of my father during an illness. (He's fully recovered).

                      2. I missed seeing how Saints & Sinners new chef was hired. Did the show bring him on? Did she find him herself?

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Nicolette S

                          They showed her telling her chef the investors were making her switch chefs. I don't remember seeing the new chef, then again, I was not paying attention..apparently he was a little hyperactive, according to the contestant anyway. She made an excuse at the investors' table about the food being the new chef's fault, but that's not a good excuse since she would not be able to use such an excuse with paying patrons..

                          1. re: John E.

                            Yeah, I was turned off by her blaming the chef. That's what got me wondering how she ended up with him. He should have known the mac & cheese would dry out but it was her menu, blame to share. Also wondered if she had tasted the food and thought it was ok until the judges had their say.

                            1. re: Nicolette S

                              While I completely agree that the food is her responsibility and she should not have blamed the chef, I do feel bad for the cointestants in the chef selection process. THey were basically confronted by a room full of a limited number of chefs, all that they were meeting for the first time, and in many cases they had no background on the food (e.g. no one with an indian background, which is critical for the indian restaurant to succeed). That is definitely not how it would work in the real world.

                              1. re: AmblerGirl

                                lol i think its pretty safe to say that assuming this show is going for any sort of "real world" scenario is pretty much tossed out the window.

                                unfortunately with this weeks challenge, i think they already got rid of the two concepts that woulda done best out of a truck: grilled cheese and crazy tacos

                        2. What I couldn't understand was that almost no one under food cost. Theres only a couple of things that can make a restaurant and food cost is one of them. Last restaurant I ran it got so bad hearing about food cost we had to call it somethnig else or there would be a fight. Craig, "how the labor", 23% Dave, "Great hows the Boxes this week" 24% Dave.....UGH

                          Now its the bain to my business and I haven't even sold anything.

                          I still think its going to come down to Soul Daddy because he's been the most consistent and Spice Works because the concept has so much possibility. The Grill Billies don't have a clue and can't agree on much.

                          19 Replies
                          1. re: Just Plain Craig

                            They got instructions about food cost and then nobody really had a good answer when the question was asked.

                            1. re: John E.

                              The problem may have been that they didn't sell all of the food they bought. I remember at least one of them (? Indian) knowing to the penny what the food costs were.

                              1. re: saeyedoc

                                I must have missed it about the Indian guy. All they needed to do was to know how much food they bought for how much, how many servings it constituted and how many servings they sold and how much was left over. Even I can figure out that math.

                            2. re: Just Plain Craig

                              Soul Daddy and Spice Coast are my top two as well. and i'm torn, because i would prefer to eat the food from Spice Coast, but Jamawn has been my favorite contestant since Day One. he just seems like such a good, genuine, likable guy.

                              it saddens me to see how watered down and boring most of the concepts have become as the show progresses. we went from traditional Indian food to a few token Indian ingredients rolled up in a flour tortilla? seriously? i was actually just saying to someone today that as i've watched this happen, i've become relieved that i didn't get cast for the show. if they had bastardized my idea like that it would have killed me.

                              Stephanie is a mess. *she* clearly doesn't even know what her concept is, and Compleat was far more interesting than this Harvest Sol business. watching her stumble through this is painful. i can't stand the Saucy Balls (excuse me, Brooklyn Meatball) guy, and it blows my mind that he continues to make such bad choices/decisions every week. and IMO the woman from Grill Billies only slightly more tolerable. it's too bad they can't just do a triple elimination next week and fast-forward to the finale :)

                              and now that i think about it, if the food at Spice Coast ends up being as dumbed-down as i suspect, i won't want to eat there anyway...so i guess i'm rooting for Soul Daddy.

                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                +1 wrt to Jamawn. Joey's bad taste in all things, including the name of his restaurant is such a turnoff, I can't wait til he goes. I agree that Tiffin Box was more appealing than Spice Coast is turning out to be, though he seems to be keeping the flavors amped up.

                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                  There have only been 5 people I've been interested in whatsoever all along, two of them are now gone (the taco guy and the limbo woman). I'm still interested in soul daddy, spice coast & grill billies.

                                  Fully agree with you on how watered down everything is getting, but I guess that's to be expected. I also disliked how they kept panning the grill billies for having unhealthier choices like that tater tot pie earlier on, that's something I'd want!!

                                  The indian guy though, his watering down is quickly taking him out of my interest zone. There's already a fast food place near me doing an indian burrito concept except they use actual indian flat bread. Why would I bother with flour tortillas?

                                  1. re: jgg13

                                    It's notable that Flay is really leading the water it down charge, and his burger place here got really bad reviews when it opened here.

                                    1. re: mcf

                                      Oh, the chipotle guy is doing it too.

                                      The whole brooklyn meatball co name that they pushed on the guy, that made me figure that meatballs is going to make it to the finals. I've felt all along that they knew exactly who they wanted, at least down to 2-3 people and it seems like the ones that I figured were the favorites are getting more hands on watering down than the tohers.

                                      1. re: jgg13

                                        I think they love his meatballs, but his decision making and taste are so dead wrong that they'll keep them from investing in him.

                                        1. re: mcf

                                          It's always tough to disassociate the TV from reality. I suspect that whomever wins is going to have a lot of control taken out of their hands anyways

                                          1. re: jgg13

                                            I suspect that whomever wins is going to have a lot of control taken out of their hands anyways
                                            of course they will - just read the on-screen disclaimer at the end of each episode :)

                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                              I've tried a couple of times. It's on there so quickly that I never seem to pause it just so. Eventually I just figured it said something along the lines of they were going to pick whomever they want and bastardize the concept it however they want.

                                            2. re: jgg13

                                              Any time you're depending upon money from others, you lose control proportionately.

                                          2. re: jgg13

                                            The whole brooklyn meatball co name that they pushed on the guy, that made me figure that meatballs is going to make it to the finals.
                                            2 problems with him as the potential winner:
                                            - the NY location of the winner's restaurant is going to be in Manhattan. if the name of the place is *Brooklyn* Meatball Co, shouldn't the first NY location *be* in BK?
                                            - a meatball restaurant opened in Manhattan (on the LES) last year, and has been getting really solid reviews here on CH and elsewhere. they seem to have a pretty established rep and following, so he's already got stiff competition.

                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                              I figure that having the star power will help give these places a boost. They'll be featured time and time and time again on TV. Look at what being seen on FN does to a place.

                                              I have no idea where the NY outpost is, but stick it in times sq or something and you'll do great form the tourist factor alone.

                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                I don't see either of those as problems. And I thought the name change greatly helped his cause, though I doubt he wins.

                                                1. re: LurkerDan

                                                  maybe i'm just *hoping* they're problematic because i don't want him to win ;)

                                          3. re: jgg13

                                            If these guys were just opening a local (e.g. Indian) restaurant, I would not expect them to water down the flavors or the cuisine. Americans have learned to appreciate certain cuisines such as Italian or Mexican and even those get watered down in chain places. But I understand the notion behind watering down a more "exotic" ethic cuisine for a national chain.

                                            If it is too off from the familiar the typical American is not likely to run in there for lunch and the chain will not succeed.

                                            1. re: chicgail

                                              Along with the "watering down", the investors want portable options and keep suggesting wraps,sandwiches, and tortillas. Looking at most profitable fast food options, most do have portable foods. Except for Panda Express, which is very popular despite having to use utensils. Of course, that is probably not a good example of authentic ethnic food. Still, they are thriving even in this economy.

                                      2. so i just stumbled across this tidbit about Steve Ells' new concept coming this summer - a "Southeast Asian" chain:

                                        gotta wonder if this means Spice Coast won't win because generic "Southeast Asian" and dumbed-down Indian might be too similar and eat into the same potential market...?