The network is moving forward on the new series "America's Next Great Restaurant," tapping Food Network staple Flay as a participant. Show -- previously titled "United Plates of America" -- will air sometime next season.
Flay will serve as one of five restaurant and business leaders who will search for a winning chef and/or entrepreneur to help open a new eatery. Flay will serve not only as an investor in the restaurant, but also as a judge on the show and mentor to the contestants.
Magical Elves' Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz, who know a thing or two about the food biz (as producers of Bravo's hit "Top Chef" and spinoff "Top Chef Masters"), are the producers.
Cutforth and Lipsitz have launched an open casting call across the country, via a bus tour with stops in New York; Raleigh, N.C.; Nashville; Columbus, Ohio; Chicago; Kansas City, Kan.; Denver; and Los Angeles.
Contestants will compete to open a restaurant chain in three American cities.
NBC has been down the new-restaurant road before. Its reality series "The Restaurant" featured another celeb chef, Rocco DiSpirito, as he opened a new Italian eatery in New York.
More details from NBC:
Flay joins a select panel of some of the most important names in both the dining and business worlds who will ultimately select the winner. These individuals will invest their own money in the final restaurant chain, and will have a huge stake in the game’s winner. These larger-than-life personalities will offer the hopeful restaurateurs their expertise, support -- and the kind of tough love it will take to overcome great odds. Ultimately, after much-heated debates, the panel will choose the winning concept and decide which idea will become America’s newest restaurant chain.
Thousands of ideas will be narrowed down and then each week the investors will put the chosen few through rigorous challenges to discover which contestant’s concept has the greatest potential for success. The stakes have never been higher for the contestants and the investors. One contestant’s dream will become a reality.
Flay, star of “Iron Chef America: The Series” and “Throwdown with Bobby Flay,” shows his culinary versatility in the multiple talents he brings to the field as a chef/restaurateur, award-winning cookbook author and television personality. Most importantly, he is a leading restaurateur.
Interested applicants for the series should log onto nbc.com/casting to pre-register for an open casting call at one of the eight stops on the nationwide casting bus tour.
Hope the winners of "America's Next Great Restaurant" have better luck with their NBC eatery than DiSpirito, whose "The Restaurant" restaurant was ultimately a disaster. Meanwhile, I'm busy prepping my all-Spam restaurant entry.