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Showing posts with the label Last Restaurant Standing

Dinner Theatre: Demonstrations and Recriminations on "Last Restaurant Standing"

It's good to know that I'm not mad (or in this case anyway): a cooking demonstration is actually meant to encourage people to sample your food. After all, it's a promotional event to get bodies into your restaurant, to showcase your cooking, and to put forth your restaurant concept and identity. So how did James and Alasdair yet again manage to get it so wrong on this week's episode ("Cookery Demonstration") of BBC America's deliciously addictive culinary competition series Last Restaurant Standing ? This week's task was pretty damn straightforward: the teams were assigned to four different locations--a regatta, farmers' markets, and a shopping center--and were instructed to perform cooking demonstrations in an effort to increase bookings and spread the word about their restaurants. Granted, some of these locations were harder sells overall (Michele and Russell drew the short straw with the mall) but the emphasis was on luring customers in by off

An Englishman's Home is His Castle: Dinner Party Disasters on "Last Restaurant Standing"

Organizing a dinner party is never simple, especially when you're thrown into it at the last second... and aren't exactly professional caterers. That's right: there's no hiding anymore, as Raymond himself put it. On last night's episode of Last Restaurant Standing ("The Dinner Party"), the three couples placed into Raymond Blanc's latest Challenge were in for the toughest trial of their lives as they catered three separate private dinner parties for three very particular (read: difficult) clients at their homes, which include a neo-Georgian mansion, a Tudor stately home, and a waterside chalet overlooking the Thames. I have to say that this was definitely their toughest task to date and I am glad that Raymond pushed them into the deep end at this point in the competition. In particular, Helen and Stephen's couple were excessively demanding about presentation, cutlery and stemware, and the food itself, which had been shot by the lord of the manor

Sail Away: Teams Attempt to Grow Takeaway Businesses on "Last Restaurant Standing"

Talk about heat in the kitchen. This week on BBC America's deliciously addictive culinary competition series Last Restaurant Standing ("Takeaway"), the five remaining teams were tasked by Raymond Blanc to offer takeaway options from their restaurant, given them motorcycle couriers to deliver food to customers' doors. The one catch: they'd still have to run their restaurants with a normal weekend service and keep profits up. Not an easy one. It was made especially more difficult by the fact that several of the restaurants don't really have concepts that are easy to translate into takeaway. I don't really know how fine dining, for example, would be able to be created, delivered, and enjoyed in the same fashion as in the restaurant. James and Alasdair's The Gallery was especially at a loss as to what to do and, faced with yet another difficult decision, took the wrong path. So how did they do overall? Let's discuss. James and Alasdair. Let's

First Class (Air) Fare: Teams Take Flight on "Last Restaurant Standing"

It was definitely sink or swim time on Last Restaurant Standing this week. On this week's episode ("Airline Food") on the deliciously addictive culinary competition series, Raymond Blanc offered his toughest Challenge yet to three teams: they would have to design a three-course meal for first class airline passengers that would define their brand and style of cooking and present said menu to airline reps and Raymond and his inspectors while simulating a first class cabin meal service. No easy task that. Especially as two of the three teams in this week's Challenge have some pretty subpar cooking skills... and the chefs themselves wouldn't be on hand to reheat and plate each dish, but would have to rely on their front-of-house counterparts to effortlessly carry off service. In other words: ouch. Tim and Lindsie. I knew from the start that these two would be safe from elimination if Lindsie could keep her emotions in check and focus on the task at hand, rather t

Channel Surfing: FOX Gets "Mental," HBO Defends "Big Love" Controversy, BBC to Dine Again at Blanc's "Restaurant," and More

Welcome to your Wednesday morning television briefing. FOX has acquired US rights to FTVS' thirteen-episode medical drama Mental , starring Chris Vance ( Prison Break ), Annabella Sciorra ( The Sopranos ), and Jacqueline McKenzie ( The 4400 ), which it plans to air this summer. Series, created by Deborah Joy LeVine and Dan Levine. Project, from Fox Television Studios and Fox International Channels, was shot last year in Bogota, Colombia as part of a international co-production business model that produces fare internationally and then sells it back into the US market. ( Variety ) HBO has defended its plans to air a March 15th episode of drama Big Love , which features a sacred Mormon endowment ritual, despite encountering criticism from Church of Latter Day Saints officials who claimed to be "offended" by the inclusion of such a ceremony, said to be viewable only by LDS church members in good standing. "Obviously, it was not our intention to do anything disrespectf

White Flag: Contestants Tackle World Cuisines on "Last Restaurant Standing"

Was it just me or did nearly every team seemingly fall apart this week on BBC America's Last Restaurant Standing ? On this week's installment of deliciously addictive culinary competition series Last Restaurant Standing ("Flags of the World"), the remaining six couples were tasked with introducing various world cuisines to their individual menus, ranging from Swedish and Mexican to Japanese and Spanish. This was definitely a tricky task as many of the contestants were pretty unfamiliar with the cuisines in question (just look at Helen and Thai food for an example) and several teams faced external problems that would either derail their progress in the competition or crystallize their commitment to Raymond and this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So were they able to inject some foreign flair into their restaurant concepts or did it get too hot in the kitchen for several teams? Let's discuss. Michele and Russell. I have to say that I wasn't a fan of Michel

Oxford Blues: Raymond's Challenge Has Teams Scrambling on "Last Restaurant Standing"

Last night's episode of BBC America's Last Restaurant Standing ("Oxford Formal Halls") was a personal one for me and not just for the Oxford setting but specifically because the college that James and Alasdair had to prepare a meal for was the very one that I attended: Wadham College. I had the opportunity as an undergraduate to dine at the High Table for Christmas dinner with the dons and fellows. It was an occasion that I will remember for the very rest of my life and it was made especially memorable by the fact that my girlfriend at the time (now my wife) was there beside me. Oxford is steeped in tradition and everything, even the way meals are conducted in hall, have an elaborate sense of precedence. So I was extremely excited (and a little terrified, frankly) to see just how the three teams in Raymond's latest Challenge would conduct themselves when faced with the daunting task of preparing a fine dining experience for the High Table and another fantastic

Pigging Out: Waste Not, Want Not on "Last Restaurant Standing"

Once again, Raymond Blanc has thrown down a gauntlet to the seven remaining couples in his deliciously addictive reality series, Last Restaurant Standing : to utilize every piece of a half of a pig--from head to tail--and maximize their profits. It's no easy feat when you consider that many of these chefs haven't worked in professional kitchens... and their front-of-house counterparts don't exactly know how to sell offal to their customers. And, to me, that's half of the fun of this winsome and engaging series: to see just how these starry-eyed restaurateurs cope with the pressure and expectations of Raymond and his inspectors. This week on BBC America's Last Restaurant Standing ("No Waste, No Loss"), the teams would either sink or swim when faced (quite literally) with the gorgeous, free-range, organic pork delivered to them by local butchers. After all, the point of the exercise was to see how much use each restaurant could get out of the pig as the

Teams Motor Along During Raymond's First Challenge on "Last Restaurant Standing"

Sayonara, Sorbets & Seasons. There really wasn't any way other that last night's episode ("Motorway Service") of BBC America's deliciously addictive culinary competition series Last Restaurant Standing could have gone. Challenged to create a menu for a bustling lunch service at a busy motorway service station and market their concepts to the public, the couples were split into three teams on the task, with one restaurant to be closed for good by Raymond at the end of the Challenge. I thought that this was a fantastic way for Raymond to truly see the couples under intense pressure, out of their normal comfort zones in their own restaurants, and forced to deal with a specific clientele at a very specific location. It would also allow the cream to rise to the top as there was no way to come out of this task without proving to Raymond that they had the requisite passion and drive to make it in this cutthroat industry. I thought that Harriet and Mike did a fan

Overcooked Rice, Missing Cutlery, and Sorbet Soup: Opening Night Redux on "Last Restaurant Standing"

I am already hopelessly hooked on Season Two of BBC America's culinary competition series Last Restaurant Standing . If you're not watching the series, you're missing out on what must be one of the very best food-themed series on the air today (yes, I'd definitely place it squarely alongside Bravo's Top Chef ) but also one of the most tense and revealing hours on television, as everyday couples (spouses, friends, fathers and daughters) are pushed to their limit when they open their own eateries. I like to think of it as Top Chef meets The Amazing Race , only without the Pit Stops and frequent flier miles. This week's episode ("Pay What It Is Worth") had the eight remaining teams asking their customers to only pay what they believed their meal was worth. For one team--Alasdair and James--it was the first time on the series that they got to open their restaurant (if you remember, they missed Opening Night due to a gas leak) and for others it was an op

Talk Back: Season Two Premiere of BBC America's "Last Restaurant Standing"

Just wanted to share a few quick thoughts about the first two episodes of BBC America's addictive culinary competition series Last Restaurant Standing , which kicked off its second season last night. As always, it's early days on the series, so much of the action focused on the couples preparing their signature dishes for Raymond and his inspectors, Sarah Willingham and David Moore, and setting up their new restaurant spaces... just in time for Opening Night. Well, for nearly all of the teams, that is. You read my advance review of the first three episodes of Last Restaurant Standing , but now that Season Two has launched, let's talk specifics. First off, I'm really quite surprised and disappointed by the performance of mother-and-daughter team Annette and Kashelle. Kashelle seems like such a natural in the kitchen and we see her in pre-shot segments preparing some truly gorgeous Caribbean food, so why on earth would she opt to prepare a mango whiz, a dish that requi

If You Can't Stand the Heat, Get Out of the Restaurant (Business): An Advance Review of Season Two of "Last Restaurant Standing"

Longtime readers of this site know of my near-obsession with BBC America's addictive culinary competition series Last Restaurant Standing , which returns for a second season of kitchen catastrophes tonight. As in Season One of Last Restaurant Standing (which airs in the UK as The Restaurant ), famed chef and two-Michelin-starred restaurateur Raymond Blanc (of the fantastic Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons) gives nine couples the dream of a lifetime: the opportunity to open their very own restaurant with him. But before they get to that point, they'll be culled one by one as they are given the keys to individual restaurants and tasked with running them, including everything from devising the menu and preparing food, to training staff and designing the decor. Assisting Raymond in keeping tabs on the would-be restaurateurs are Raymond's diligent and attentive inspectors, including Season One's Sarah Willingham and newcomer David Moore, the owner of the two-Michelin-starre

Out of the Frying Pan: BBC America Announces Season Two of Fiery Culinary Series "Last Restaurant Standing"

Sharpen your knives (and your claws), BBC America's deliciously addictive culinary competition series Last Restaurant Standing returns later this month with a brand new season. Launching Tuesday, January 27th at 8 pm ET/PT, Season Two of Last Restaurant Standing (or The Restaurant , as it's known in the UK) will find host and judge Raymond Blanc (of the world famous two-Michelin starred Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons ) and judges Sarah Willingham and David Moore selecting one of nine couples to win their own eatery as they compete head to head over 14 weeks by opening restaurants that serve everything from traditional British fare to--wait for it--Welsh-Chinese fusion food. As in Season One, each of the nine couples, who have little to no professional cooking experience, must transform an empty restaurant into their very own, individual eatery and open it to the public within a week. The nine couples competing for a shot at their own restaurant this season are: Kashelle, a

One Couple Gets the Restaurant of Their Dreams on the Season Finale of "Last Restaurant Standing"

What a wild ride it's been this season on BBC America's hit culinary series Last Restaurant Standing . I was literally on the edge of my seat (and nearly fell right off my perch) waiting for Raymond to announce the winner of this deliciously addictive competition series. Who would be opening a restaurant with famed restaurateur Raymond Blanc? Would it be twins Jess and Laura whose whole-foods concept was a hit with locals and regular customers? Or Jeremy and Jane who often seemed outdone by their luxurious and ambitious eight-course menu? A tough decision, even for Raymond Blanc. But before he would decide which couple to award the restaurant of their dreams to, he would put these two teams through their toughest Challenge to date: opening a version of their branded eateries in his French hometown, Besancon, where they would have two days to freshen up their spaces, design a menu, market their eateries, prep ingredients, and serve their food to the locals, including Raymond&#