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Broken Airplanes: Let Them Eat Cake on "Last Restaurant Standing"

It's sad to say that I'm now completely fed up with and frustrated by BBC America's Last Restaurant Standing (which airs in the UK under the title The Restaurant), with which I had been previously obsessed.

After two fantastic seasons of culinary competition, the series has completely gone off the rails this season, bringing in unqualified contestants (some of whom don't even bother to cook) and throwing all sense of production values or carefully coordinated challenges right out the window, along with the series' once winning format.

Last night's episode of Last Restaurant Standing ("The Cake") was shockingly awful. Besides for the fact that I found it inconceivable that this group of shoddy wannabe restaurateurs had made it this far in the competition (we're nearly at the end!), I felt like the series was even further undermined by the producers themselves, who created an illogical challenge for the teams--cater a tea dance in under five hours' time--that would be impossible to win unless you had purchased at least some of the cakes yourselves and which was so poorly organized that the teams were doomed to failure from the outset.

At this point in the competition, just a few rounds before the final showdown, I expected to see some real talent emerge from these chefs, which just isn't happening at all. I think that Chris is the only one even in this competition who can cook at all and he's consistently let down by front-of-house partner Nathan, who has shown absolutely no growth or remote understanding of the subtleties of service. Still, they managed to pull off a VIP dinner without a hitch--even producing a stellar cake made in the shape of a ski resort--that was diametrically opposed to their truly terribly performance at the tea dance, where they showed up 45 minutes late, didn't include any mention of tea on the menu, and didn't end up serving anyone, thanks to Nathan's lackluster approach.

JJ continues to remain hands-off in the kitchen of the picnic-themed restaurant he's meant to be running with James but he wasn't even at the pass expediting this week as he spent the entire service decorating his cake in the walk-in. Yes, I get that he baked the cake and all (perhaps the first time he's made anything since they got the keys to the restaurant) but come on. This isn't a cake decorating show; it's meant to be a culinary competition. Grr.

The cake was truly a trainwreck (or shall I say plane crash?) at The Front Room and Stephen's efforts to create an airplane-shaped confection for his VIP guests was a disaster from start to finish. The smooshed nose on the plane, the childlike writing, and the ghastly craftsmanship had me agog. Just shockingly bad.

And then there were Daisy and Nadine, who seemed to lose all focus of the fact that they were running a Westernized Nigerian restaurant and instead cooked up a BBQ for their guests and failed to register the fact that pasta, potatoes, and bread were carbs and that the rugby coach had specifically requested for no carbohydrates to be served and if they had to be that they were wholemeal-based. Instead, the ladies took this to the extreme and offered not one but three major components of the dinner that were carb-based. Argh.

No surprise that Daisy and Nadine's restaurant was closed this week as the emphasis seems to be on the overall concept and its execution. I think they failed on all points but I can't say that I am really rooting for anyone to win this at this point. It's a sad state of affairs that such a promising and exciting program such as Last Restaurant Standing should devolve into such a mess.

What did you think of this week's episode? And have you given up on the series altogether? Just what went wrong this season? Discuss.

Next week on Last Restaurant Standing ("The Singles"), the three remaining couples must create a romantic takeout dinner for two and cater a singles night at their restaurants.


Chris said…
Yeah, this season was dreadful, to be honest (I've seen all but the final episode). I can't imagine that there will be another season because how exactly can they recover from this? I'd like to think that something went horribly wrong in the selection process. (It'd be interesting to know if there were any backstage changes in the casting staff.) Because while the show is certainly suffering from the change in format (and the lack of challenges), that would all be all right if all the "chefs" could cook with some level of competence. At least then we could get to the finer points of restauranting: service, budgeting, concept, building up a clientele; NOT can you bake a cake.

Either way, I'd be shocked if we got another season and, if we did, I'm not sure I could watch.
Lauren9to5 said…
Chris, I agree that if they do another season with this kind of format (rather than the original) I don't think I'd be interested in watching, which is a shame because I absolutely loved the first two seasons. Not sure which is more of a disappointment - the contestants or the production itself.
James said…
I came in on the middle of the last season -- but yes, this one seems a lot more rushed and a lot more slipshod.

Do the episodes get edited for BBCA to fit in commercials? That can't help much either.

Watch James during services: I swear he's channeling Basil Fawlty, right down to the obsequious hand-rubbing.

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