America's Next Great Restaurant: The lost recaps. Episode 4

Bob Swank's lost recaps of America's Next Great Restaurant are a millenarian weekend bonus feature on Dining@Large. Enjoy.  - RG

America’s Next Great Restaurant

Episode 4 – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Haven’t seen the show yet? No prob. Catch up with my recaps for Episodes 1–3.
Full episodes are available on
See what happens to people with more gumption than gumbo. It’s not the most exciting or perverse reality show, but you get to pit Joey Baggadonuts (Saucy Balls) against a  self-loathing Harvard Law grad who consults a calorie-counting book every time a sesame seed falls into her Garden of Obsessin’ (Compleat).
Things are happening in Restaurant Row, the sterile array of empty kiosks. Now it’s a mall-style food court. Sports Wrap Fran and Sauce-on-the-Side Chao-neé-Wok Marisa have been sent packing. Note: if the judges say your food has no flavor, adding tofu is not the answer.
Contestants renamed their restaurants (except for exempt Saucy Balls and MeltWorks), created a slogan that reflects their “philosophy” and served a new dish that represents that philosophy. Best rejected slogan: “The love is in the balls.” (Oh, Joey.)


Bobby Flay – Bona fide high end faux Mexican / jerk. Boring host. Seems like a Little Rascals character that got cut during editing.
Steve Ells – Bona fide business genius of high concept, lowbrow faux subtopian Mexican. Visibly irritated by everyone.
N.B.: I am unfamiliar with chain restaurants in general, including Chipotle, and don’t eat fast food ever. I noticed on the show Undercover Boss that the chain restaurant Baja Fresh seems identical to Chipotle.
Lorena Garcia – Real Latina / shoe-horned TV chef / chimichurri Barbie. Machine gun English sounds like baseball cards in bike spokes. I’ll bet she uses a lot of exclamation points in her personal correspondence!
Curtis Stone – Kangaroo Ken doll / haircut in search of celebrity. In this episode they seem so embarrassed by Ken and Barbie that Flay and Ells are never seen with them.

Know Your Judges

Lorena Garcia – NBC’s culinary Laurie Partridge. When looking for video evidence, I stumbled upon this gem that shows what mama is really cooking. Garcia’s website declares that she is a top Latina chef. Her self-proclaimed “empire” consists of a coffee shop at the Miami airport, Concourse D. But wait ... it ... is ... a ... (future) ... chain.

Remaining contestants, Home City, Concept Names, and Slogans

Original concept names are crossed out if they changed:
Sandra Digiovanni, Kansas City, LIMBO - Sublime Diner & Paradise Lost Lounge, Sinners & Saints – Food for your mood  
Joseph Galluzzi, NYC, Saucy Balls, Italian Home Cooking Fresh & Fast.
Sudhir Kandula, NYC, The Tiffin Box ("Indian Chipotle"), SpiceCoast – Modern Indian, Eat Flavorfully.
Stephenie Park, Chicago, ComplEat: Fixed-calorie fast food meals in busy metropolitan areas, Compleat – Flavor you can count on
Eric Powell, Nashville, Meltworks – Artisanal Ingredients
Alex Terranova, Marina Del Rey, CA, Hard N Soft Tacos, Revolution Tacos – explore. discover. indulge.
Gregory Westcott/Krystal Seymour, Los Angeles, Hicks, Grill’Billies – Urban grill with Southern attitude. They clearly didn’t get the memo on what “urban” means.
Jamawn J. Woods, Detroit, W3: Woods' Wings and Waffles, Soul Daddy – Cookin with Heart & Soul
Pre-show Predictions


Grill’Billies – Flay had them change their name but that ruined their BBQ concept and they know nothing about grilling. These Left Coast bohos look like deer in tanning bed lights.
ComplEat – Stephenie is obsessed with calories, consults a calorie counting book constantly, has no food concept. Ignored judges advice to change name.


Meltworks – He is straying too far from the basic comfort food concept. Artisanal ingredients? Pfft. It’s grilled cheese.
Sinners & Saints – The food looks terrible.
Revolution Tacos –Judge Stoney Curtis describes his tacos as “disgusting”.  Judges, please stop eating tacos with an upside down fork! You’re eating food meant for suburbanites in jorts and Crocs™. Enough with the lame pretentions.


SpiceCoast – Good concept. Needs to keep execution tight. Needs more charisma. Indian Chipotle.
Saucy Balls – Joey Badda-Bing riding the charisma train to the end. Needs more than balls to make a restaurant though.
Soul Daddy – Initially I thought he was a pity vote, but people are digging his food. Soul food for suburban white people? I can see the menu now: Bryant Gumbel Gumbo, Wayne Brady Mild Wings, ...

This Week’s Mission

This week’s project is to create a mini-menu of five entrées and three side dishes for your lemonade stand-sized food court kiosk. They only have to make two items from the menu though. They will be making food for 300 restaurant industry “pros” for Restaurant Week LA, including architects and other not so obvious restaura-tourists.  The Los Angeles setting for this show really rubs me the wrong way.
They are also have to revamp their names, slogans, and create graphic designs. (See awesome collage up top.) Oh yeah, their slogan has to reflect their “philosophy,"which is just fluffing up Chipotle, because they don’t just serve good food fast, they heal humanity with their love and empathy (or something).
For me, this is an exercise in semiotic cynicism. Everything on the tube is propaganda. You don’t need Umberto Eco to know which way the wind blows.

Business plan and design consulting

Alex from Disgusting Taco doesn’t need any help. He’s golden. That swirling sound is his meatball tacos circling the bowl. His concept: “rock & roll, luxury Gothic.” And greasy hair and bad food. “My whole concept is about being cool.” Ugh, your whole left-is-right, right-is-wrong earring strategy and motorcycle gang esthetic is LAME. If you say you want to be cool, well, you are not. Bye bye.
Uber-white SoCal bimbettes from Chill’Billies neé Hicks seem oblivious. Okay, we’ll grill instead of doing BBQ, because Grand Poobah Bobby Flay told us to. What is grilling? What is urban? What is reality? Pfft.
Meltworks – Overthought grilled cheese. Ugh, pull the trigger. I kind of hate this guy, because he has been sitting on this concept for three years.
Saints & Sinners (neé Limbo) – Just subbing bison for beef isn’t a plan. If I’m going to Hell, this food needs to be delicious.
Saucy Balls – Eh, oh, eh! I think Joey Balls may be a one trick pony. His physical design demands exposed brick, stainless steel, and an open kitchen. Hello, 1989!
Compleat – Sweet sassy molassey! Self-loathing Stephenie has changed both her name and concept from calorie-obsessive bummer Compleat to Harvest Sol, a  Mediterranean concept that a Lunesta butterfly brought to her during a dream ... apparently: “like using American ingredients but infusing Mediterranean flavors.” That’s just stupid.
Contestants go to stores to buy fixtures and furniture for their fake food court restaurants. Zzzzzz......
Back to the studio kitchen where they confab with their loser chefs. Joey Saucy Balls is making sausage balls with “Sunday sauce”. Oh, Joey.
Everybody wants a signature sauce or dish. Ugh, how about making something edible first?
Where did they get these idiots? Calorie-counting self-loathing Stephanie has now told her chef in a wicker cowboy hat to design a menu using Mediterranean flavor without Middle Earth ingredients (did you not parse that from Lord of the Rings?), but using influences from thirty European, Middle East and North African cuisines. Sadly, I don’t think she is familiar with many or any of these. Kill switch engage.
Grilled cheese guy
is like an albatross. I want to shoot him before he jinxes the whole voyage. Enough with your three-year-plan to make grilled cheese sandwiches. Just do it! I hate grilled cheese guy now. Step up or step off, Melty!
Uh oh, Bobby Flay wants Grilled Cheese guy to have four or five dipping sauces for his grilled cheese sandwiches. Well, that’s just stupid. My mom never made any “dipping sauce” for a grilled cheese sandwich.
The three hundred LA free-loaders mingle in the TV studio/food court.
Stephenie’s new concept is vaguely Mediterranean and it seems as if her randomly chosen chef designed the whole menu, which means Stephenie has no concept: African stew and Greek salad are two items. The foreign mimbo and bimbo are way excited by the superficial concept. Shocking. I do like how Lorena calls her Es-TEFF-eh-KNEE.
SpiceWorld, I mean SpiceCoast’s menu looks genuinely interesting in a toned-down but elegant lighter version of the usual gut-busting Indian buffets offered at lunch around town. Items include: Madras lamb; Goan chicken; green beans and coconut; daal; papadums and dip; fennel and orange salad; mango, mint and avocado salad; various sauces; and mango pomegranate milkshake. I would eat there.
Flay and Ells dig the food. Super-genius Ells theorizes that one could fold the naan with lamb into a taco and dump the salad and sauce on top – prison style. Aussie nobody Curtis Stone thinks Ells’ taco idea is stupid. Yay! Software engineer-cum-naan slinger Sudhir is comically kowtowing to every judge. He gets a tongue lashing on this from the Thunder form Down Under. He loves the food but doesn’t like the naan touching anything else on the plate (“a travesty”.) Lorena babbles something about the food court tables having not enough warmth (like your coffee shop at the airport?)
Grill’Billies – King Nerd Ells thinks the meat should be cut into small pieces so that everything is uniform in size. Smoked then pickled vegetables? Interesting. Flay/Ells like the food.
Sinners & Saints – The B team likes.
Revolution Tacos – Flays and Ells likes his fake brick wall. Cap’n Taco really wanted graffiti walls. Plantain chips.  Fish tacos. Next!
MeltWorks – Flay thinks the grilled cheese sandwiches don’t have enough cheese. He thinks they are really panini with cheese on top. He wants the simple homemade mom version (with five dipping sauces). Ells grumbles that yet another person is stealing his Chipotle look. Duh.
Soul Daddy – Flay and Ells think the food is not as good as last time and is under-seasoned.
Saucy Balls – The B team is sent in. I’m sick of Joey already. Various young women flirt with Curtis and giggle about not wanting saucy balls. Lorena: “overdone, tacky”. Curtis doesn’t want any garlic for lunch. Menu is lame and one-dimensional.

Judgment Time

The customers’ favorite was Sudhir with SpiceCoast.
The bottom three are:
Revolution Taco – Unfocussed, not passionate, bad food.
MeltWorks – Flay told him to make “signature” (ugh) dipping sauces and he didn’t. Uh oh. For the third time they repeat that his sandwiches don’t have enough cheese. Stony Curtis wails on him like it’s a gang initiation. Oh, I think he’s crumping now. Flay actually shakes his fist at the sky and shouts, “We want grilled cheese!”

Saucy Balls (Oh, ay, oh, aaaaaaay) – Meatballs are not a concept, Joey. The Philosophy of Joey: “The only shots you miss are the ones you don’t take.” Well ...

The Verdict

The revolution is over. Alex is kicked off.

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