Not too long ago, I told you all that my new favorite food-related television show was Gordon Ramsay’s The F Word on BBC America. Well, I’m sorry to say that I lied. My new new favorite food-related television show is Last Restaurant Standing, which is also on BBC America. I know you’ll forgive me when you hear the premise:
Restaurateur Raymond Blanc brings in nine couples to compete for the chance to partner with him in opening a new restaurant. The couples are made up of husbands and wives, parents and children, partners and friends; one of the two serves as the head chef, while the other is front of house. Each couple is given the keys to a restaurant space, which they then turn into their dream eateries.
Sound interesting enough? There’s more — Last Restaurant Standing has two different types of episodes: service, and challenge. The former shows the couple running a dinner service, as well as dealing with a task like using a whole pig when designing that night’s menu or feeding diners with dietary restrictions. The couples are then evaluated on their performance, and those with the worst review are made to participate in the challenge episodes. In these, the couples are made to complete such assignments as designing a cookbook concept, creating an airline meal for first-class passengers or cater a dinner party for very particular clients. Then, based on their work and customer satisfaction, one couple is eliminated.
One reason I enjoy the show, aside from the obvious focus on food, is that all of the competitors are so supportive and respectful of each other. No one’s talking smack, like on the similarly-themed-albeit-canceled NBC show The Chopping Block. No one’s rooting for anyone else to fail — in fact, there’s surprisingly little negativity at all, except when one of the contestants disappoints themselves. Not once does anyone point fingers, something I find utterly fascinating.
Another thing I like about Last Restaurant Standing, which is called The Restaurant abroad, is how pretty it is. Each episode showcases lush photography, charming background music and wonderful voiceover narration that makes it feel as though a kindly-yet-worldly nanny is telling the viewer a bedtime story. It would gently lull you to sleep, were the show uninteresting. Instead, it slips you into a lovely kind of stupor. I mean this in the best possible way.
This Sunday, BBC America is running a Last Restaurant Standing marathon for those of you who want to get caught up on episodes you might have missed, or those of you who just want to get sucked into some British reality television. I’ve got plans, but I encourage you to lounge on your sofas all day and check it out!