America's Next Great Restaurant: A Quick Review

The judges.
The judges.

Quick impressions on last night's episode of America's Next Great Restaurant: I didn't catch the beginning of the show, because frankly I had no intention of watching it. Just happened to turn a channel and there it was.

Bobby Flay, Steve Ells (CEO of Chipotle), Melbourne chef Curtis Stone, and Lorena Garcia (former Miami restaurateur) are tough judges. Very honest and blunt when necessary, especially Ells and Stone. Each contestant had to prepare massive amounts of a few signature dishes from his or her dream restaurant, in order to feed 1,000 folks at a large outdoor gathering. Judges tasted the foods and critiqued logo, concept, and food.

Here are the winners and losers thus far:

Loser: Fran, of the Sports Wrap. She got booted more for attitude than food, although the judges thought her concept was weak and her chicken dry and tasteless. She disagreed and thought it was just a matter of taste. "Thanks for stopping by," she said with dripping sarcasm after being critiqued at her booth, practically waving Flay and Stone away with contempt. "I'm a star," Fran said when looking back at her performance after elimination. Evidently a star who can't cook.

Winner of public poll: Fair-goers had a coin with which to vote for their favorite booth -- just like at Burger Bash. Eric Powell of Cheeseworks collected the most coins. The folks at CheeseMe must be kicking themselves for not entering this thing.

Best food in my humble opinion: Stephanie Park, of ComplEAT, prepared a pulled pork salad and gazpacho. Curtis and Lorena were the tasters and were evidently blown away. It sure looked better than anything else served. Both hated the name ComplEAT, though -- felt it sounded too healthy.

Biggest jerk among the contestants: Loser Fran was close to being a jerk, but she had a certain admirable bearing about her. Alex Terranova, though, the guy behind Hard N Soft Tacos, was taken aback when his tattoo-like logo was criticized. Stone said something to the effect of "Blood, wings, a heart, a dagger... doesn't really make me hungry." As soon as the judges turned away, Alex sneered at the camera and whined about how they just didn't get it and how hard he worked on the logo, and claimed that three people came up to him and said the judges just weren't cool enough to understand. Wonder how pissed off he would have been had they not liked his bacon-cheeseburger taco.

Best comeback: Jamawn Woods, whose concept was called Woods, Wings & Waffles (Belgian waffles and chicken wings). Judges weren't crazy about his wings and waffles, but they came back and tried his gumbo -- which they loved.

Worst execution of a concept: Wok Stir Fry: For the Healthy Heart. The judges agreed this was a good idea. What was served, however, was a bowl of fried rice. Ugh.

Second-worst execution of a concept: Hicks, a small-plate Southern food idea that was supposed to encompass barbecue. Gregory and Kristal served pigs-in-a-blanket and fried mac-and-cheese. "This is greasy and just awful," Stone said.

I don't usually watch crappy reality television shows and probably won't keep up with this one. But I enjoyed watching the judges review the food -- so many of the fare was stuff we're seeing at our local food truck courts. Plus I already have my favorite: Stephanie of ComplEAT. Her stuff looked to be miles ahead of the rest.

Just wondering: Am I the only person who watched this show?

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