Photo: Mitchell Haaseth / NBC
What do you get when you take Top Chef, mash it together with Shark Tank and toss in a bit of The Apprentice? Apparently, it's America's Next Great Restaurant (a.k.a. what NBC hopes will be America's next great reality-TV show when it debuts on March 16, 2011).
It doesn't take more than 30 seconds of the promo clip released by the network to get the gist here: You've got a representative cross-section of starry-eyed hopefuls with big dreams of success (in this case, opening their own restaurant chain) and four expert judges who furrow their brows a lot and seem to have mastered the art of the "dubious glance." (As happens when one contestant says he's leaning toward a chain that only serves vegetarian food.)
Bobby Flay leads the team of judges, which also includes Australian celebrity chef (and KitchenDaily contributor) Curtis Stone, restaurateur Lorena Garcia, and Chipotle founder Steve Ells. The four will not only anoint the winner; like the popular Shark Tank, they'll invest in the winning concept as well. It all makes for what NBC is billing as the biggest prize ever on any reality show: the launch of a restaurant chain in three U.S. cities.
And what peek do we get of the concepts in play? One woman is hawking her concept Wok, "stir-fry for the healthy heart," while another guy is pushing "kabob sliders."
Then we've got the cast-off from the Jersey Shore who wants to take his grandma's meatballs national. The name of his proposed chain? "Saucy Balls."
Oh, how we hope that he makes it beyond episode one.