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Being Catered to Isn't Rocket Science on "Last Restaurant Standing"

There is justice in the world, after all.

I'm speaking of course of this week's episode of the highly addictive BBC America reality series, Last Restaurant Standing. When we last left the remaining eight couples--each on a quest to open their own eatery with celebrity restaurateur Raymond Blanc--three teams had been pushed into the challenge after yet another disastrous weekend. For Martin and Emma, Sam and Jacqui, and Nicola and Tom, one of their restaurants would be closed forever and their dreams dashed.

The challenge this week: to feed a potential crowd of 800 rocket scientists at a laboratory canteen outside Oxford during the lunch crush... and to make profit doing so. In order to achieve this end, they would have to carefully price out each portion, determine food costs, and maximize their profit-taking at every turn. Or that's what they were meant to be doing, anyway. In their inimitable style, Sam and Jacqui once again managed to miss the point of the task at hand and devised some incredibly elaborate (and ultimately vastly misguided) rubric for determining their potential profit.

I do have to say that over the last few episodes, Jacqui has managed to grow on me a little bit. Say what you will about her preening need to be in the spotlight (rather than have it placed on the food), but she always tries her hardest to get the job done and does genuinely want to see The Ostrich flourish. Her husband Sam, on the other hand, is once again oblivious to time constraints, profit-taking, and organization and seems to lack any leadership skills whatsoever. It's absolutely clear to me that these two should not be in the restaurant business; Sam is meant to be running the kitchen but once again leaves his team to fend for itself. The Yellow Team ends up carrying Sam along and wastes precious time trying to get Sam to focus on completing little tasks, as he cannot and will not look at the big picture. Nor does he write up a timeline for the day, give his team members any direction, or seem to appreciate the fact that they have a very limited amount of time to prep and cook that much food.

They also neglected to buy any sugar, needed for their Mexican-themed apple crumble, and have to buy it off another team. Their marketing campaign did seem to pay off: they had a long queue throughout the lunchtime rush to try out their Mexican specials and Jacqui's personal appearances--armed with free lime cordial and the promise of free nachos--did get the punters to show up. Still, they probably would have done better had they actually, you know, costed the food as they made very little profit in the end, something that Raymond fortunately called them out on.

I was really pleased with Nicola and Tom's progress this week. After another disastrous service, Nicola seemed to crumble into a shell of her former self and couldn't seem to maintain any order in her kitchen. This week, Nicola did a complete 180 degree and took the reigns of her team, was organized, efficient, and led by example. The result: her team, which opted to serve a lunchtime roast (succulent roast pork, crackling, roast potatoes, veg, and a crumble), won the challenge. They were smart with their marketing, placing hundreds of fliers advertising the food and a special deal (main and pudding for £4) all over the lab, and an offer that caught on with the scientists. Plus, who doesn't love a roast?

Bravo to Nicola for showing the most improvement in such a brief spell. While she could have crumbled under the weight of the challenge, she definitely used it as an excuse to change her behavior and step up to the role demanded of her. And, when asked by Raymond and his inspectors for their cost, they were able to effortlessly answer the question, unlike Sam and Jacqui. Well done, guys.

As for Emma and Martin, I really did think they were sunk this week. While they seemed to do everything right at the beginning--and had prison cook Martin and military cook Jeremy on the team--they seemed to be the least busy during the lunchtime rush. Not helping things was the fact that their food, while well-prepared, seemed the most like what these scientists would be eating on a daily basis: chicken chasseur, rhubarb crumble. What Emma and Martin had on offer seemed like catering food rather than the hearty pleasure of tucking into a roast or a specialty like Mexican food. Plus, they had actually set their price point lower than the rest of the teams (which kept theirs at the £3.50 maximum allowance), guaranteeing them less profit in the end, despite keeping their costs at an astounding 80 pence per portion.

Still, in the end, Raymond chose to keep Emma and Martin's restaurant open another week and closed The Ostrich for good. It was a tough decision for the Manoir aux Quat' Saisons owner but I definitely believe that he made the right choice. While Emma and Martin clearly need to step it up in the coming weeks and turn a profit, they do at least seem to genuinely care about their restaurant and this experience. Sam, meanwhile, wanted to play drums in his restaurant and have someone else run the place and cook the food. Clearly delusional about how much work (and love) have to go into making a restaurant hum along, Sam isn't cut out for this profession at all. Au revoir!

Next week on Last Restaurant Standing, the seven remaining couples fight it out to lure in more customers to their restaurants, attempting every marketing ploy from balloon releases to free gifts. They are also tasked with creating a special children's menu with entertainment (too bad Jacqui's not there anymore), which quickly transforms their smart eateries into absolute chaos.


Yay! So happy to see Sam and Jacqui gone! (And I love how Raymond told them that they shouldn't be in the restaurant business at all.)

At least Jacqui tried and seemed to care. But Sam? He was just a waste of space. And I couldn't believe it when he told Raymond that he thought he was a good leader. Ay carumble!
Anonymous said…
I was really impressed by Nicola this week and happy that she finally took control of the kitchen. I just hope she can do the same at her restaurant.

Also relieved that Martin and Emma are still in the game. Emma is hysterical and it's obvious that these two are really invested in what they're doing...unlike Sam and Jacqui(well, Sam at least)!
Anonymous said…
Also glad to see Sam and Jaqui gone and I feared they were going to win with the way the show was edited. They so don't deserve to be there. And I love how Adowa tried to politely tell Sam so - clueless boy.

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