The Restaurant Review: Reality Bites

October 28, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

3.5THE RESTAURANT: Thursday 29th October, BBC2, 8pm Alert Me

These days, on-camera cookery is desperate to appease audience’s insatiable appetite for drama in the kitchen.

But amidst the train-wreck contestants and Ramsay-an hosts of The Chopping Block, Hell’s Kitchen, and Top Chef, there is still one reality series that avoids ratings-reliant antics.

The Restaurant, French chef Raymond Blanc’s made-for-tv battle, is the last culinary show of its kind.

In its third season, nine couples once again duke it out for a foodie’s dream: the chance to open a restaurant backed by Raymond Blanc and newcomer investors Sarah Willingham and David Moore. Filmed like an upscale reality show, the opponents live together in a house whilst running their own restaurants over the course of eight weeks. But this is only episode one.

The first challenge is to create a signature dish that represents creative vision. The contestants this season are notably eclectic. There is the MILF and daughter duo, the winking bartenders, the Swedish, the Nigerians, and two army comrades, to boot. And all of them fail miserably when it comes to “creative vision.? One team is going for “picnic cuisine,? whilst another settles on “umm…rustic?? What a sad sot.

But after 35 years in the industry, Blanc is the model mentor, drifting through the kitchen, tasting something here, declaring “Bon champs!? there. And when one couple attempts to disembowel a coconut, then a tin, by banging a massive carving knife at the objects, Blanc gingerly steps in with a can-opener.

You see, Blanc chooses to use a restrained tone when saying things like, “Some of you failed to cook. Others murdered the food,? rather than spew profanities at the oft-incompetent contenders.

And that is refreshing indeed.

Danielle Jacoby