This week was the premiere of the new BBC America series, Last Restaurant Standing. World renowned chef, Raymond Blanc offered nine couples the chance of a life time – an opportunity to own their own restaurant. The couples include a pair of newlyweds, a mother and son duo, and a set of twins. Some have catering and hotel management experience but none have ever run a restaurant or even cooked for more than a large gathering at home.
They were set up to fail — an incredibly, they didn’t do all that bad.
My problem with the series lies in the set up of the competition. After a very slow start, the couples were randomly given keys to empty restaurants all over the area. One shell had a view of Buckingham Palace, another in an old monastery, some in the city and some way off the beaten track. The couples were then given a budget and one week to decorate, staff, cook and book. One week! Why? I would have preferred to see the first week devoted simply to decorating and coming up with a theme, the next on cooking, and finally on actual service. Seeing what some of the couples did accomplish, I find it hard to believe they didn’t have some professional help from the series staff.
In the real world its unlikely that you would get a sign maker to design, build and install a sign inside of a week. Dishes and linens have to be purchased and delivered and construction crews must have worked overtime to convert these dirty shells into lovely dining areas.
More like a documentary than a reality series, the show was edited to highlight the mistakes of some couples and the potential mistakes of others. People were shown in tears and the stress threatened to break them — or did it? Frankly, given the short time period and the pressure, most of the team mates were relatively calm and productive.
Opening night came and each restaurant was visited by an inspector. The worst scenario was Lloyd and Adwoa who not only overbooked their night but then served the inspector raw chicken. They landed in the bottom three. Other "sins" included allowing sous chefs with clearly more experience take over the kitchen (That’s a mistake? Sounds like a good idea to me.) And choosing a silly name for the restaurant — who wants to eat at "The Ostrich"?
In the end three couples were chosen to enter into an elimination challenge and that’s when. . . . my episode ended. I say mine because apparently everyone else in the world saw a second hour in which the challenge was held and someone was eliminated. My DVR apparently wasn’t interested. So – don’t tell me. I’ve got it set to record on Monday and then I’ll be back with the second half of this review.