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May 22, 2011

America's Next Great Restaurant: The lost recaps, Episode 5

joeycrBob Swank's lost recaps of America's Next Great Restaurant are a millenarian weekend bonus feature on Dining@Large. Enjoy.  - RG

America’s Next Great Restaurant

Episode 5 – Dippity To Do, Duh 

In the last episode Sudhir’s Indian Lite / Indian Chipotle came out on top and looked tasty. Bobby Flay screamed that he wanted more cheese on his grilled cheese and the MeltWorks guy withered and cried a little. The consensus of the test crowd was that no one would utter the sentence, “I’m in the mood for saucy balls”. What do you get when you combine self-proclaimed coolness with bad tacos? You get kicked off the show. Adios, Alex and Revolting, I mean Revolution Tacos. Seven contestants remain, but only one will win and become that place in a strip mall that you settle for.

This Week’s Mission

The challenge this week is to design a restaurant uniform. What I like about this show is that there is some reality to it. They dig into real world facets of running a restaurant that matter – menu design, furniture, décor, names, logos, slogans, etc. My brain is on fire to find out what Saucy Balls’ uniforms look like.
This should be fun. People with no fashion design background have to literally design their own uniforms and then someone will manufacture them. Giggle giggle. Time to bring forth my inner Tim Gunn.
Comical photo shoot involving props ensues:
Chill’Billies – Goal: “funky, fun, and interesting”. Result: Ugly gray t-shirt with tiny logo and whatever jeans. Boring. Fail.
Soul Daddy – Goal: Marvin Gaye / Motown. Result: Club bouncer. Black shirt with logo, black slacks, and blue striped tie. That’s not a fast casual soul food uniform. Prediction. Fail.
Sinners & Saints – Goal: Unknown. Result: Large logo on white tee with “mom” jeans. It’s just a t-shirt. Fail.
MeltWorks – Goal: Something conservative. Result: Maroon semi-V-neck long sleeve shirt with his gooey yellow dripping gear logo prominently displayed on front. Looks like an ad for preventing a robot venereal disease. (emphasis mine - RG)
SpiceCoast – Gray V-neck shirt. Couldn’t really see it. Gray isn’t very appetizing.
Harvest Sol – Long sleeve t-shirt, white with maroon sleeves and a large maroon stalk of wheat in front.  Eh.
Saucy Balls – Goal: Brooklyn gangster. He also wants to show that he is “hugging you with my food.” Great slogan: Saucy Balls hugs your children with turkey balls. 911! Dial 911, Timmy! Result: Ridiculous cliché racist stereotype. Black long sleeve collared shirt, black slacks, white tie, and (wait for it) ... black and white wing tip shoes. Comical fail. Joey does DeNiro’s “You talkin’ to me?” bit from Taxi Driver during shoot. Oh, I forgot, he also has a machine gun. So much for hugs.

Culinary Project for the Week

Flay announces something called Investor’s Choice. The four judge-investors get to pick something from their menu or something that’s missing. I think the items chosen from the menu have never been made before.
Judges choose:
Sinners & Saints – A turkey burger (on menu). Hate crime! No one has ever said, “I had the BEST turkey burger today.”
Harvest Sol – Make shrimp panzanella salad on the menu, but make it into a sandwich for people on the go. From Wikipedia: “Panzanella is a Florentine salad of ... chunks of soaked stale bread and tomatoes, sometimes also onions and basil, dressed with olive oil and vinegar.” Stephenie’s response to Big Dog Flay: “I would prefer not to.” Nonplussed Flay’s reaction: “Interesting.”
Stephenie explains that no one eats and walks, so sandwiches are uncool. Judge Curtis “Who ARE you?” Stone disagrees. He sees people eating and walking all time. Yes, disgusting people with food stains on their jorts.
The judges seem kind of stupid here. Taking a salad where croutons are central to dish and making it into a sandwich is dumb. Stephenie relents and agrees to make salad and sandwich versions.
Meltworks – Stoney Curtis gloats over his beat down of wimpy Melty. Flay once again obsesses about dipping sauces. Melty must make a "classic” grilled cheese with five dipping sauces. Classic means just cheese and bread.
SpiceCoast – Make the menu item called Goan Chicken, but change the name.
Saucy Balls – Curtis: “You need to be serving your balls over salad.” Joey’s task is to serve his eggplant parmagiana balls on a sandwich. Yuk.
Soul Daddy – Bring back the fried chicken and waffles but in a new way.
Grill’Billies – Make menu item Cherry Cola BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich. Sound disgusting. Sympathy points: They have to make pulled pork for the first time ... in three hours.
Most of these tasks seem easy, except for Melty, who has to invent five new sauces in three hours. His days are numbered. The judges want to turn a salad into a sandwich but a sandwich into something you dip into a sauce. So much for walking and eating. 

In the kitchen

Cans of Diet Cherry Coke are poured into a pot. Great Caesar’s Ghost!
Lots of lame do-or-die talk.
Stephenie phone orders ten baguettes. Why? Other people are making sandwiches. Editing foreshadowing ... ?
Still no sign of judges Steve Ells or Lorena “Coochie coochie” Garcia.
Eat it! Dip it! Walk with it! Make it work, people!
What’s with the V-neck t-shirts? Is it some LA thing?
The culinary test takes place in Pershing Park where there presumably will be much walking while eating. And dipping and walking and eating.
Steve Ells in pink button-down shirt LOVES the bleak gray V-neck (!!!) t-shirt uniform of Chill’Billies that looks like haute gulag to me. Aussie Glossy Curtis describes cherry cola pulled pork as “gross” before tasting. Ells chimes in with “a little junky”. White trash crap. Just say it. Remember, a key ingredient is Diet Cherry Coke. And they love it.
Over at Harvest Sol Stephenie serves up her shrimp panzanella salad as a sandwich on whole wheat pita. Whuck? We saw her order baguettes.
Soul Daddy serves up chicken and waffles with a twist ... bacon! Wow, that’s not obvious. Moron judge Garcia suggests that Jamawn make his tie shorter so that it ends in the middle of his chest, Oliver Hardy style.
Flay and Garcia enter the gates of Hell. Oops, I mean they try the stupid turkey burger they wanted at Sinners & Saints. One was raw and the other was over-cooked. I think my finger just threw up typing “turkey burger”.
Joey, Joey, Joey. Meat baller Joey gets hoisted on his own parmagiana. Stone: Gangster photo “making a total mockery of his own business”.
Sudhir from SpiceCoast renames Goan Chicken as Mom’s Curry Chicken. This seems to confuse Chipotle founder Steve Ells: “You mean mom, like mother?” OMG, in his continuing quest for a more Onanistic world where everything is “hand-held”, he once again wants to make everything into a sandwich. Plate and fork. Deal with it, dweeb.
Stoney Curtis disagrees with  the Earl of Sandwich. Flashback: In the previous episode Cap’n Chipotle wanted to plop the meat, salad and sauce from SpiceCoast onto the naan and turn it into a taco. I think they have medication for OCD now, dude. Sudhir is now “petrified”. Based upon Ells’ sledgehammer sandwich model, I am guessing that the food at Chipotle is bland and boring. Reports from the field also say that if you tried to eat a Chipotle burrito while walking, your shirt would look like something discarded onto the floor at Shock / Trauma.
It’s Melty time! Eric from MeltWorks delivers five stupid dipping sauces, as demanded, to Flay. Flay tastes them. With. His. Dirty. Fingers. Oh, I assumed you were supposed to dip the sandwich in them. Dipping sauces – I hate you, Bobby Flay. 

Flay doesn’t love every sauce (or his grubby fingers don’t). He complains that for dipping a basic mom-style grilled cheese Eric has missed the “obvious”: pesto and chimichurri. I think my brain just exploded. Chimicurri? Pesto? “Mom, where’s the damn chimichurri dipping sauce?” Whack! Upside my head. Chimi Churri? Didn’t she used to be on the Merv Griffin show a lot? No, that was Charo.


Judge Ye Not

Swill’Billies’ Diet Cherry Coke pulled pork BBQ was the customer favorite. Go figure.
It’s Joey time. Nobody digs the kitschy gangster thing.
Melty on the grill. Doy! He wants to take the regular grilled cheese off the menu. He prefers “kind of” grilled cheese. This feels like a funeral. Lorena declares dipping sauces “a genius idea” that Eric doesn’t embrace. What is wrong with these people?
The food at Sinners & Saints is declared to be bad. Again.
In the end racism and very bad food win and Melty is sent home. They just don’t like him. Love is love and not melt away.

Posted by Richard Gorelick at 7:10 AM | | Comments (2)


Seven contestants remain, but only one will win and become that place in a strip mall that you settle for.

That pretty much summarizes what's at stake here. And yet for some reason, I am oddly interested in finding out who wins this thing. I haven't kept up with watching the show, but these recaps are an efficient and entertaining way of following along. I like the evocative turn of phrase "haute gulag" to describe a uniform. And I don't believe I've ever encountered the terms sandwich, hand-held, and onanistic in the same sentence before.

I know who wins but I still love these recaps.

I didn't know how it ended until the end of the last episode. Sergio Vitale of Aldo's almost told me, but I covered my ears and yelled, "La la la la, I can't hear you!"

Nowsadays with Hulu, bit torrent, OnDemand, etc., there is no need to watch things when they air.

The show is a moderately interesting sociology and business experiment – more real than most reality shows, but must be watched with a skeptical eye. I personally yelled at my netbook a lot and shook my fist at the sky.

Would it have been best to post these the morning after each episode aired? Sure, but various social and medical exigencies and a broken netbook complicated things. Such is the fickled finger of Fate. Plus, some urgent travel as part of my duties as the Minister of Pita for the nascent government of Tunisia threw a spanner in the works.

These are really just about the jokes and snark attacks. Much ado about not much. If the rest are posted, the photoshopped artwork gets better.

NB: Onan is one of my favorite ridiculous Old Testament characters. (Look it up.) I met a bartender at a TGIFridays in Panama whose name tag said "ONAN". What was his madre thinking? BTW Dorothy Parker named her canary Onan (because he spilled his seed upon the ground).

That is all. Now a cucumber martini at Pacific Coast ... I want to go to there.

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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.

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