« Chef changes at Bluegrass and Tapas Adela | Main | Violet »

March 23, 2011

America's Next Great Restaurant, Episode 3: Wok & Whoa

Here's Bob Swank's Episode 3 recap of American's Next Great Restaurant. Now we're all caught up.

Johnny Carson golfswing!


Last week grilled cheese operation Meltworks was the crowd favorite and has immunity. “I can make a 100,000 wraps Fran” was eliminated for telling Chipotle founder Steve Ells that his opinions were wrong and that people do like dry over-cooked chicken. She was strapped into her Delorean wrap and sent back to 1993.
Most reality shows have a catchphrase that they use when someone is eliminated: You’re fired; Please pack your knives and go; etc. ANGR’s is the ultra-lame, “I’m sorry, Smedley, we will not be investing in your restaurant.” Awkwardly polite for a vulgarian like Bobby Flay.
I guess we are supposed to think that marble-gargling Bobby from da Block is now a respectable entrepreneur who doesn’t try to humiliate people in bogus chef contests or jump on his cutting board when victorious.
I think something more gritty would work like, “Grab yourself by the collar and take out the trash. Your sauce is weak!” Too strong?
Bobby Flay – Bona fide high-end faux Mexican / jerk
Steve Ells – Bona fide business genius of high concept, lowbrow faux Mexican.
Lorena Garcia – Real Latina / shoe-horned TV chef / chimichurri Barbie
Curtis Stone – Kangaroo Ken doll / haircut in search of celebrity
Know Your Investors
Who is Curtis Stone and why should we care? Oh, he was on Celebrity Apprentice 3. Yeah, but why was he on that? Oh, because he was one of People magazine’s sexiest men alive (2006), newcomer category. Yeah, but why? He apprenticed with Marco Pierre White in London. So? Oh, he had a show on TLC between 2006 and 2008, Take Home Chef,  where he picks up hot babes in the lonely food section of supermarkets (Lean Cuisine, anyone?) and weasels his way back to her home so he can put Barbie on his, er, shrimp.
He is a manufactured celebrity who was sold as a soft-core porn stalker. Creepy.

Contestant names, Home City, Original Restaurant Concept Names 
Sandra Digiovanni, Kansas City, LIMBO - Sublime Diner & Paradise Lost Lounge
Joseph Galluzzi, NYC, Saucy Balls
Fran Harris, Dallas, The Sports Wrap
Sudhir Kandula , NYC, The Tiffin Box ("Indian Chipotle")
Stephenie Park, Chicago, ComplEat: Fixed-calorie fast food meals in busy metropolitan areas
Eric Powell, Nashville, Meltworks
Alex Terranova, Marina Del Rey, CA, Hard N Soft Tacos
Gregory Westcott/Krystal Seymour, Los Angeles, Hicks
Jamawn J. Woods, Detroit, W3: Woods' Wings and Waffles
Marisa Zafran, NYC, Wok
I like Indian Chipotle. Too bad no one came up with Mexican Chipotle ... zing!

I’ve Got a Beef with Your Meat

A lot of this competition has to do with perceived leadership, energy, commitment, and, ugh, character. Wrappin’ Fran got in the initial ten because the judges were gaga for her enthusiasm for a terrible concept. Then her obstinance turned the judges against her and they couldn’t dump her fast enough.
Today’s challenge is an idiotic test: Have completely untrained mostly non-restaurant people take over one of Steve Ells’ 1084 Chipotle stores for lunch. What could go wrong?

You Say Chipolte, I Say Chipotle

In reality-show logic, the best way to test your ability to operate three restaurants serving Southern Indian coastal cuisine is to ... serve chips and guacamole at a Chipotle lunch rush. Because this is how you test TV character.
I need to make fun of Steve Ells and Chipotle more. This is basically an hour long commercial for Chipotle. He reminds me of Pepe the King Prawn from the Muppets minus the funny.

A friend of mine watched this episode and said that no one here has the fire in the belly that it takes to start a restaurant. I agree. So future restaurateurs, here is your chance to show your leadership potential by slopping out faux burritos and taking someone’s minimum wage job for a day.  ¡Olé!
They turn a Chipotle over to the ten contestants while the the pre-fab four investron judges watch their performance on TV in the kitchen.
Ells: “Notice there are no smiles on their faces”. Destroy them!
Sudhir is hiding in the kitchen avoiding the “line”. The line is the assembly line in front. There is no cooking happening at Chipotle.
Super-anal gringo dweeb is offended by Jamawn’s “on the field” let’s go team verbalizing. All good for a Baptist church, all bad for a fake Mexican Subway and its all white clientele. Apparently they only like his enthusiasm when it is in the appropriate environment. (Yeah, I’m saying that.)
Ells looks like he’s having a stroke.
“Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go, baby”. White guy with sunglasses on receding forehead complains to white girl at register that he finds the black guy’s “yelling” unseemly. “There is not a lot a yelling at Chipotle.” Indeed. ¡Ándale! ¡Ándale! ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba!
Jamawn given a ten yard penalty for being black in the white loading and unloading zone. Can you imagine if they had an actual Mexican working there? Dios mio!
Marisa is warming tortillas on a cold unplugged tortilla warmer.
I’m starting to believe that most of these gastronards aren’t qualified to eat in restaurants, let alone run one.

A Saucy Ball Is Saucy Ball Is a Saucy Ball – What’s In a Name?

Saucy Balls and Meltworks were the most popular names among the people at Citywalk. The judges seem to hate them, but they get to keep their names, ruining Flay’s new operation Bobby’s Melty Ball Sauce Works.
It is strongly suggested that all others change their names. The last person who rejected a strong suggestion is back in Dallas in her WNBA uniform staring into the mirror saying, “I’m tall enough, my wraps are awesome enough, and gosh darnit, I’m tall enough!” Don’t be a Fran-Don’t, be a Fran-Do!

Philosophy of the Whirled

They also have to come up with a mission statement or slogan that represents their “philosophy”. For example, Chipotle’s is something like “Fast food for people with Mexican maids.” Something like that. Then they need to come up with a new dish that reflects their “philosophy”.


I’m not good at branding, but that won’t stop me from mocking some heinous attempts by others.
Melt outside the box.
Were not reinventing the wheel, just making it better.
Saucy Balls
Love is in the balls.
Feel Grandma’s love.
W3 – Wood’s Wings & Waffles
After a big hit with gumbo he broadens his scope to soul food and renames it Soul Daddy. Daddy like. Judges loves this guy’s food. It’s a Cinderfella story! Watching uber-gringo dweeb Steve Ells praise and define “soul food” is amusing.
Hicks – They eat, breathe and dream BBQ. Flay suggests grilling instead, because it’s quicker. That totally negates their concept, but like the good SoCal flat-liners that they are, they go along with Flay’s groin-kick re-tooling.
This di-gnomic duo seems barely able to pack a bong, let alone get behind a restaurant concept. If I were to give their ever-changing concept a name it would Wevs. New name: Grill’Billies
The Tiffin Box – They suggest booting the Swedish chef. Good concept, great recipes, ridonkulous chef. Sudhir (who the judges like to call Sudsy) calls his chef in the middle of the night and fires him. Swedish chef not so bork-bork happy. I’m pretty sure he could make some snap decisions if Sophie needs to make some child-rearing choices.  
ComplEat – Flay: “We need to start inserting flavors and ingredients ...” That’s all? Magic 8 Ball says... All signs point to DOOM. Flay hates the name. Stephenie decides to ignore Flay and “stick to her guns”, because people said Chipotle was a stupid name. Oh, Magic 8 Ball says ... your name sucks and you have no concept other than “I hate my fat body” and here’s some calorie-controlled nursing home food. DOOM! (BTW she is thin.)
“I’m not sure what they mean by flavor profiles.” DOOM!
Wok – Marisa thinks that tofu is the answer to her flavorless dreck. If tofu is the answer, what the hell is the question? DOOM! Judges feel that she doesn’t know anything about stir-fry or food or flavor or technique or the difference between hot and cold. Double DOOM! Uh oh, her wok is on fire. She stares at it helplessly. Wok away. Triple DOOM!
Hard and Soft Tacos – Now Revolution Tacos. Asian-inspired tacos today. Glossy Aussie says, “The problem is his tacos are disgusting!” That would be a problem, mate.
Limbo – They like the concept but haven’t had any good food yet. She serves meatloaf and turkey meatloaf. Heaven would be anything but this crap. The name needs to be changed, because everybody knows limbo is nowhere. Heaven is reserved for Top Chef winners and Hell is for Marisa of Wok who puts sauce on the side!
Saucy Balls – Conspicuously absent. Something good must be coming. Without you, Saucy Balls, this show is dead. Show us your new balls. Slogan: Italian Home Cooking Fresh & Fast. Lame.

Outside Judges

America’s top marketing geniuses judge the new names, concepts, slogan and food. Yeah, right.
Marisa’s Wok turns out the equivalent of leftover unspiced Chinese food to the judges. (that's a bad thing? -- RG) Crocodile Undie thinks the concept is solid but thinks that Marisa doesn’t understand stir-fry. You know, that really complicated cooking technique mastered by 5 year old Thai toddlers on river rafts.  
Stephenie tried to sell people on how awesome portion control is. Why not just smack them in the face and scream, “Fattie, fattie, hate your daddy!”?  If I wanted to wallow in the self-loathing of my body dysmorphic disorder, I would stay home and eat rice cakes, listen to Barbra Streisand, and eat Hot Pockets in my wedding dress. Zoloft Pockets!
Customer: “I see ComplEat. Conscious. Modern. Fresh. But I don’t get a sense of delicious.” Durrrr. Her whole concept seems to be based on the abnegation of pleasure.

Pet Peeve

All but sexy beast Steve Ells call themselves “restauranteurs”. Aside from the fact that glossy Aussie tosser Curtis Stone doesn’t have a restaurant, they all pronounce the word wrong. It is restaurateur.

Judgment Day

Although I skewer everybody, the judges cut someone every week. There are so many people who should go. Almost nobody is making edible food.
This week the concept that got the most votes from the yearning churning gastro-masses was Detroit’s own Soul Daddy (previously W3).
In the loser list are Grystle, Marisa and Stephenie. (Hillbilly/SoCal grillin’, wok food for people with ageusia, and portion-controlled nursing home food).

Adios Marisa.

I’m sorry. Are you crying? Well, put your damned tears on the side! For trying to promote sauce on the side as a “healthy” life choice you should be sent to the bowels of Hades with Hugh Jackman and Pol Pot.

The Future

In my mind there are two great personalities: Joey Saucy Balls and Motor City Dad. The best concept is Sudsy’s (Sudhir. Sudsy? Really?). I would love to get the spices of India without the gut busting belly bomb that is Indian food. Same with Thai. My greatest sorrows are that we still have no moving sidewalks, jetpacks, or delivered Thai food in Baltimore.

Contestant names, Home City, Current Concept Names and Slogans

Sandra Digiovanni, Kansas City, LIMBO - Sublime Diner & Paradise Lost Lounge, Sinners & Saints – Food for your mood  
Joseph Galluzzi, NYC, Saucy Balls, Italian Home Cooking Fresh & Fast.
Fran Harris, Dallas, The Sports Wrap
Sudhir Kandula , NYC, The Tiffin Box ("Indian Chipotle"), SpiceCoast – Modern Indian, Eat flavorfully.
Stephenie Park, Chicago, ComplEat: Fixed-calorie fast food meals in busy metropolitan areas, Compleat – Flavor you can count on
Eric Powell, Nashville, Meltworks – Artisanal Ingredients [barf]
Alex Terranova, Marina Del Rey, CA, Hard N Soft Tacos, Revolution Tacos – explore. discover. indulge.
Gregory Westcott/Krystal Seymour, Los Angeles, Hicks, Grill’Billies – Be the Sauce [no thanks], Urban grill with Southern attitude.
Jamawn J. Woods, Detroit, W3: Woods' Wings and Waffles, Soul Daddy – Cookin with Heart & Soul
Marisa Zafran, NYC, Wok, Chao – The art of stir fry
Posted by Richard Gorelick at 9:39 AM | | Comments (18)


Actually, Merriam Webster does indicate "restauranteur" as an alternative acceptable spelling of the word restaurateur. But I can't get past the idea that a "restauranteur" is someone who likes to hang out in restaurants, as opposed to a proprietor. Also, it's harder to pronounce "restauranteur".

I like the name Grill Billies way better than Hicks, but now that's forcing them to do grilled food instead of barbeque, which was their original concept.

Sounds like the only good food is the meatballs, gumbo, and indian.

I like your write-ups, but what's with all the Bobby Flay hate?


Goggle "Bobby Flay A**hole" and you'll see all you need to know.

People love to hate Bobby Flay. More sport than sentiment. He's the ultimate Ugly American. I did say thank god he isn't Gordon Ramsay. Next week I have a nice video on Lorena Garcia's "culinary" background.

I agree, David. There seem to be only three people making edible food: saucy balls, soul daddy and indian chipotle. Taco guy's food is dismissed as "disgusting". Hard to bounce back from that. I wonder what stupid challenges are in store? I think food trucks are coming up.

I had a nightmare last night about cheeseburger pot pies. Bleeeeecccchhhhh

Thanks for reading.\

I watch so you don't have to.

Did you maybe mean Wok & Woe?

Did you maybe mean Wok & Woe?

At my Chipotle, most of the servers are Mexican.

Oh my god he actually included a cartoon grandma in the Saucy Balls logo. Are you sure this isn't a SNL public radio sketch??

These write ups are hilarious! Thanks for the entertainment!!

Sparky, I took your advice and found a thread about his Throwdown show and how Bobby Flay practically ambushes the guest chef. That does sound pretty sleazy, but I'm finding a lot of this reality TV stuff to be a sham. In some ways, it reminds me of the old quiz show scandals.

Exact same thing I thought (specifically the Alec Baldwin "Delicious Dish" skit). I wrote a comment earlier to this effect but it had the bogus and suggestive product name included and was probably too off-color for posting (and I understand this fully).

he hee hee. Yup, he added his grandma to the Saucy Balls logo. Brass ones. The weirder part is that these are slogans he wanted to use:
Love is in the balls.
Feel Grandma’s love.

Sweet fancy Moses! He might have to go door to door and notify his neighbors when unleashes, er, opens his ball shops.

My hope is that Flay starts being more Flay. He said in an early episode, "You're gonna have to throw yourself in front of a bus to get me to notice your food." More of this please.

I have mixed feelings about the show. I think most of the contestants are really weak. I do think it will be all about saucy balls, curry and soul daddy.

Tune in next week for more fun. I do enjoy shishka-bobswanking these fools.

thank you all for your support. I am emulating the great snarky recaps I used to read on TV without Pity. This is a lot harder than I thought it would be.

The devious TV producers cut and edit the stories to be super-nonlinear, so to get a coherent tale here you have to stop, start and rewind constantly. If you don't do that it sounds like a 4 year old talking about a movie: ... and then Shrek says ... and Donkey says ... and the Shrek comes back and says .. and Donkey ...."

I haven't done a great job on editing and there has been some redundancy, but I will try to snip it down to the bare essentials in the future.

One of my problems is that I get obsessed with the horrible horrible concepts like Wrappin Fran and Wok Chick/Sauce on the Side Witch. Since they are both gone I can let them rest in peace.

People I expect to obsess about until they are shortly disposed of:
Grill'Billies – lameness with a California twist
ComplEat – "I don't know what a flavor profile is".
Revulsion Taco

Hey, this is kind of fun. Tell your friends, join in. Be the sauce. Ugh.

You should really buy Richard a pie. I only had to write three recaps for a TV show. It is a lot harder than it looks. I rushed these first three to catch up but even after editing one for an hour and a half, I was embarassed by the sloppiness and redundancy. Richard cranks out many posts every day. I couldn't do it. You should appreciate it.

Yes, I do think that "reality" shows are manipulative and fake. This show is an hour long ad for Chipotle and Bobby Flay's ego. It's a game show where the winner will ask you for money to buy his curry waffles and chicken wing balls. I make fun of everybody because it counteracts the full-on assault of propaganda that is the point of the show.

Eh, it's fun too. Stick with me, I'll try to make my recaps more entertaining than the weak tofu with sauce on the side stir-fry.

Next week I will have a guest collaborator who mostly yells at the TV. Should be fun!

At least the Saucy Balls guy gets American-Italian food. The Soul Daddy gets soul food. You feel that they actually like eating the food they want to sell. I don't think those two DBs who are trying to sell bbq and southern food have stepped foot in a bbq joint. Heck, I doubt they've ever stepped foot in the south.

Those LA idiots are weak.Before you can ruin something with a California twist you should probably know what the thing is.

I guess we are supposed to think that marble-gargling Bobby from da Block is now a respectable entrepreneur who doesn’t try to humiliate people in bogus chef contests or jump on his cutting board when victorious.

"There's not a lot of yelling at Chipolte"

How DARE that CUSTOMER get upset because someone acted UNPROFESSIONALLY.

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About this blog

You are reading the archives. For updated blog posts about the Maryland food scene, see Richard Gorelick's new Baltimore Diner blog.
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

Top Ten Tuesdays
Most Recent Comments
Baltimore Sun coverage
Restaurant news and reviews Recently reviewed
Browse photos and information of restaurants recently reviewed by The Baltimore Sun

Sign up for FREE text alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for dining text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Food & Drink newsletter
Need ideas for dinner tonight? A recommendation for the perfect red wine?'s Food & Drink newsletter is there to help.
See a sample | Sign up

Stay connected