Bobby Flay: America’s Next Great Restaurant @bflay

Bobby FlayBobby Flay, a master chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, and media personality is equal partner with Curtis Stone, internationally renowned chef (NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” “Take Home Chef”); Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle; and Lorena Garcia, executive chef and restaurateur, in the upcoming NBC restaurant reality series, America’s Next Great Restaurant.

As someone who had guidance from other chefs and investors, Flay can identify with the challenges of getting a business off the ground, and realize that all it takes is a little push to get a good idea to become a big success.

On America’s Next Great Restaurant, Flay shares his knowledge with contestants to help guide them to their goals. In our conversation, Flay was excited about being in Miami for the Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival and his new gig as host and investor on America’s Next Great Restaurant.

From Emmy Award-winning producers Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz of Magical Elves (“Top Chef” and “Project Runway”) comes “America’s Next Great Restaurant.” In this delectable new alternative series, people from every walk of life will vie for the opportunity of a lifetime to see their original restaurant concept spring to life — starting with the opening of a restaurant chain in three locations — Los Angeles, Minneapolis and New York City.

Funding the restaurant concepts are four accredited investors: Bobby Flay, distinguished restaurateur (“Iron Chef America: The Series,” “Throwdown! with Bobby Flay”); Curtis Stone, internationally renowned chef (NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” “Take Home Chef”); Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle; and Lorena Garcia, executive chef and restaurateur.

Flay, Stone, Ells and Garcia not only serve as investors who put their money into the winning restaurant idea, but they also serve as mentors. They will be working side by side with the competitors to further develop their concepts and put each competitor’s restaurant concept through rigorous business and cooking challenges to determine which idea has what it takes to become America’s next great restaurant.

After a nationwide search, the top 21 competitors will present their restaurant concepts to the investors and 11 will be quickly eliminated — leaving the top ten competitors to battle it out over the course of the season. The investors will determine which competitor’s concept has the greatest potential for success, and those who do not rise to the challenge will be sent home.

In the final episode, someone will fully savor his/her great American dream of launching his/her own restaurant chain, and viewers will have the opportunity to experience it for themselves.

“America’s Next Great Restaurant” is produced by the Emmy Award-winning Magical Elves. Dan Cutforth, Jane Lipsitz, Ross Jacobson, Nan Strait and Amy Chacon serve as executive producers. Casey Kriley and Gayle Gawlowski serve as co-executive producers.

America’s Next Great Restaurant premieres on NBC Sunday, March 6 from 8:00 to 9:00 pm Eastern.

What makes a really great restaurant?

Bobby Flay: There are certain ingredients to make the perfect restaurant –  terrific food which is more important than ever. Great service of course – because service can actually deter people even more than the food sometimes. And then an environment that people are going to enjoy. And there’s different environments for every price point. Fourth but certainly not last is value. People want to be able to – they want good food. They want good service. They want a good environment. And they want it to cost the right amount of money in their own minds.

How and why you decided to back this show?

Bobby Flay: I get pitched a lot of ideas for television. And while there are a lot of good ones this one really stuck out for me in terms of me wanting to do it. And basically it’s a really simple reason. I have spent my entire life in the restaurant business – my entire adult life I should say. I dropped out of high school and I went to work in a restaurant and I’ve been there ever since. I’ve been cooking for 28 years. And I’ve been lucky enough to have some success through the years. And so this to me is a great way to do a couple of things. First of all it’s a great way to mentor people who are looking to get into the restaurant business. You know, the restaurant business is one of those things that is intriguing to almost everyone. I think almost single person has said at least one time in their life I have a great idea for a restaurant. Not that they necessarily were thinking about doing it. But they had an idea. And this was a perfect opportunity for anyone no matter who you are to come and pitch your ideas to four people that have had success in the restaurant business. And I like taking that role. I don’t want to say it’s sort of giving back. But in a way it is. And I like being a mentor to people who are just starting out because, I’ve made a lot of mistakes through the years and why not be able to pass down the mistakes that I’ve made in terms of like not letting people make them again to people who are really passionate about what they want to do which is to open a restaurant of their – sort of their passion.  I was hooked immediately as soon as I heard what the idea of the show was going to be. And then also to be able to invest my own money and be partners with people like Steve and Curtis Stone and Lorena. Sometimes partnerships come out of nowhere and they work really well. And I would have to say that we’ve been terrific partners in getting this thing going.

You are extremely successful in the restaurant business. What advice did you have throughout this competition for the contestants?

Bobby Flay: It was thousands of questions back and forth but I think that basically what I wanted to know from these people first and foremost is why they wanted to do this. Did they want to do this because they wanted to be on television which obviously was not going to work for us. Do they want to do this because this is really a lifelong dream of theirs. And if so what has caused that? Is it something in their family in terms of coming up with a great meatball recipe for instance and wanting to sort of spread that across the country. So for me the real question is why were you doing this and what is driving you to basically commit your entire career and the rest of your life to making this work.

How do you balance all of your restaurants with all of your TV shows and personal life?

Bobby Flay: Sleep is overrated I can tell you that much. I consider myself a very lucky guy. My entire life is about food. It’s about one word. And, so in many ways my career is very focused in terms of what my interests are and what I actually participate in. So of course my restaurants are the most important thing to me. And I’m in my restaurants most of my time. Then I shoot television when I can. But basically it all sort of works in unison. The stuff that I do on the Food Network that I’ve been doing for like the last 16 years it’s – first of all I love doing it. It gets people to know who I am and also more importantly to know what my restaurants are. So that when they come to New York or they come to Vegas or wherever I have a restaurant they actually think of  possibly going to one of my restaurants. Writing cookbooks, doing television, the restaurants, it all revolves around one word which is food. I don’t think of it as business versus personal. To me it’s all one life. I sort of intertwine my personal life with my business life. And it seems to work really well. Now don’t get me wrong. I work a lot of hours but I’m not complaining about it.

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