Many Americans dream of being a restaurant owner from one time or another. How many people actually get their chance with the added bonus of successful mentors coming with the restaurant? The latest TV concept from Emmy Award-winning producers Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz (“Top Chef” and “Project Runway”) comes “America’s Next Great Restaurant.” In this delectable new alternative series, people from every walk of life will vie for the opportunity of a lifetime to see their original restaurant concept spring to life — The zealous contestants are vying for arguably the biggest prize in reality show history, the opening of a restaurant chain in three locations — Hollywood, Minneapolis and New York City.
Funding the restaurant concepts and mentoring the new businesses are four accredited investors: Bobby Flay, distinguished restaurateur (“Iron Chef America: The Series,” “Throwdown! with Bobby Flay”); Curtis Stone, internationally renowned chef (NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” “Take Home Chef”); Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle; and Lorena Garcia, executive chef and restaurateur. Flay and Stone took the decision on becoming involved with the show very seriously and with much thought and an “all in’ attitude agreed to becoming involved. Stone told us that the investors are all excited on bringing dreams to life.
Flay kicked off the first open casting call in New York as casting teams set out on a cross-country bus tour to scour the nation for potential contestants. Participants did not need to have any cooking or restaurant experience — just a great idea for a unique restaurant concept. Interested applicants were asked by the casting teams to bring anything they feel would help pitch their restaurant concept. Elements could be visual, edible or even wearable and applicants will have a limited time to pitch their idea. Open casting calls for the series took place in New York City, New York Raleigh, North Carolina, Nashville, Tennessee , Columbus, Ohio , Chicago, Illinois, Kansas City, Kansas , Denver, Colorado and Los Angeles, California .
Thousands of ideas were narrowed down and only the top 21 competitors will present their restaurant concepts to Flay, Stone, Ells and Garcia from that 11 will be quickly eliminated. leaving the top ten competitors to battle it out over the course of the season. Flay explains, “We were looking for great concepts, technically we can handle the restaurant logistics and the proper food components regarding cooking techniques and general development.” The investors will determine which competitor’s concept has the greatest potential for success, and those who do not rise to the challenge will be sent home and one concept will win America’s Next Great Restaurant and open the chain of their dreams. Lorena Garcia explains, “each of the investors will be along with the contestants bring different points of views to the table and combined create a successful business.”
Each week Flay, Stone, Ells and Garcia working side by side with the competitors to further develop their concepts and put each competitor’s restaurant concept through rigorous challenges and cooking challenges to determine which contestant’s concept has the greatest potential for success and has what it takes to become America’s next great restaurant. Garcia saw the growth of each competitor throughout the competition and feels that being exposed to such great people and watching their ideas germinate to success helped her growth as well.
The stakes have never been higher for the contestants and the investors. One contestant’s dream will become a reality. These investor will invest their own personal money in the final restaurant chain, and will have a huge stake in the game’s winner. “The winning concept will have a star quality like in entertainment” Stone continues to describes what he is looking for, “I want to see people with true passion for their projects”. These larger-than-life personalities will offer the hopeful restaurateurs their expertise, support — and the kind of tough love it will take to overcome great odds. “many times during the competition we looked at each other and said why didn’t we think about that?”, laughs Stone. Ultimately, after much-heated debates, the panel will choose the winning concept and decide which idea will become America’s newest restaurant chain.