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Profit is the Name of the Game on "Last Restaurant Standing"

I know I am going on and on about BBC America's Last Restaurant Standing like a broken record, but you would not believe the number of emails I've gotten from readers who have tuned in to the new reality series (airing Tuesdays on the digital cabler) and fallen under its spell.

This week's episode found the eight remaining teams trying to turn a profit on their new restaurants by introducing some special cocktails and desserts. For some teams, like twin sisters Laura and Jess, it was an opportunity to prove themselves to mentor/head judge Raymond Blanc after he called them out for not challenging themselves in the first installment. Together, these two managed to sell their specialty cocktails (which looked amazing) to no less than 71 out of 73 customers that night. And they played it smart by using simple, inexpensive ingredients to keep the per-portion price way down and then made £3.50 profit on each dessert. Bravo, girls. It was no surprise that Laura and Jess walked away with the Restaurant of the Week award; I was dead impressed with the two of them throughout the episode as they managed to be smart, economical, and creative and front of house and the kitchen were beautifully in sync, unlike many of the other eateries this week.

Speaking of which, Sam and Jacqui once again proved their ineptness, delivering inedible food to the customers (which most refused to pay for), ghastly cocktails and desserts (two of which had to be scrapped as they were vile), and basically making another mess of it again this week. To add insult to injury, Sam once again neglected his duty as the restaurant's chef to focus on setting up his drum kit, disappeared from his station at the pass, failed to prep any ingredients (he had to run to the supermarket two hours before service to buy everything) and then fired his sous chef for failing to keep it all together without proper supplies, help, or guidance. Smart one. I do have to give Jacqui credit for trying to hold everything together in the front of the house and for realizing that they had to price out each portion of dessert in order to, you know, make a profit, a question to which Sam just shrugged and asked "why?" Need I say more?

Also disappointing: Martin and Emma, who failed to follow the brief and did not create any cocktails or desserts ahead of time. Emma was saved by her Italian waitress, who quickly concocted three specialty cocktails, complete with winning names, but Martin outright refused to offer desserts. Even more shocking was that he seemed to think that Raymond wouldn't call them out for this, a bizarre oversight that made them ripe for sending through to the challenge next week.

Also placed into the challenge are mother and son team Nicola and Tom. Poor Nicola can't seem to gain the upper-hand in her own kitchen and her confidence has been sorely dented by last week's performance. Instead of rallying behind making improvements and implementing change in the kitchen, she's become subservient to her own sous chef and hired even more staff, driving their overhead even higher and sending profits plummeting. I really want to see them make this work and with a beautiful space for their restaurant (a centuries old former monastery) I would hate to see them give it up so soon.

While Jess and Laura walked away with Restaurant of the Week, the unofficial prize for most improved has got to go to Lloyd and Adwoa whose Ghanian restaurant showed the biggest signs of 180 degree transformation from the opening weekend. Their restaurant was convivial, buzzy, and the punters were genuinely happy to be there. Well done!

But for previous winners, Jeremy and Jane, this week was a wake-up call as things in the kitchen hummed along beautifully but the front of the house was falling apart at the seams. Poor Jane did her very best to keep it all moving along, but--thanks to sub-standard staff (who did little more than stand around gossiping while Jane did all the heavy lifting) and lack of support from chef Jeremy--they found themselves nearly sent into the challenge. These two have got to find a way to work together better and complement each other's domains if they have hopes of regaining their lost title.

Next week on Last Restaurant Standing, Sam and Jacqui, Nicola and Tom, and Martin and Emma must battle to keep their restaurants open as they are tasked with serving a large-scale lunch for hundreds of scientists; as one team discovers they've forgotten some basic ingredients and another bemoans the lack of oven space, the pressure is on to make the most profit... or give up their dreams of owning their own restaurant.


Anonymous said…
I have fallen head-over-heels for this gem of a show which proves that not all reality TV has to be trashy. I only wish that it was on for two hours every week like it was the first week!
JJB said…
I started watching Last Restaurant Standing at your suggestion, and I love it. Thank you. Keep singing its praises; you'll turn on more people.
Anonymous said…
I didn't think it was possible but Sam and Jacqui were even more irritating this week. At least Jacqui has some sense of what needs to be done but Sam? Get a clue, man! Not only did he put all of the blame on his sous chef but then fired him as well, getting rid of the only person who was holding the restaurant together. I can't wait to see how they try to get along without him!
Unknown said…
I don't understand HOW Sam and Jacqui can still be in this competition - they are clearly unfit to be in this business. Jacqui is horribly annoying and shrill and Sam is just a clueless dunce. Here's hoping they lose the challenge next week.

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