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13 Reviews

BBC2 / Reality Cooking Show

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      08.12.2009 20:15
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      Great programme, I hate missing it!

      The Restaurant is a programme on BBC 2 in which 9 couples compete for the prize of opening a restaurant with world class chef Raymond Blanc and his two business partners, Sarah Willingham and David Moore. The concept of the programme is kind of a cross between The Apprentice and Masterchef as not only is Raymond looking for good food, he also wants a couple who have good business acumen Each couple has a chef and a front of house and must work together on various different kinds of tasks each week. Like The Apprentice, Raymond sends his two business partners out to watch how the couples get on and then feedback to him. He then weighs up their thoughts with his own and then each week a couple is voted out and their restaurant is closed. Each couple must come to the show with a concept that they feel the food industry needs. For example in this series, there is Nigerian themed food and a Summer based theme in which two guys try and promote outdoor picnic eating all year round. Tasks have included setting up their own market stalls and hosting singles nights. I have watched previous series of the programme and have to say this series has the worst bunch of contestents so far by a mile! Examples include a couple in which the chef leaves everything to his assistant and does no cooking and another in which the front of house swears at customers! Remarkably, these two couples remain in the competition as it reaches the final two episodes. What I like about this programme is that it is not just about cooking, but an insight into the business side of running a restaurant. It is very entertaining and you will be surprised at the kind of mishaps that occur! The Restaurant is on BBC 2 and BBC HD on Thursday nights at 8pm. It is also available on the BBC iplayer

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        01.12.2009 20:13
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        I'd definitely tune in more often

        It seems that cookery shows are more popular than ever before on television these days. The latest of these which I have come to enjoy is "The Restaurant" currently aired on Thursdays at 8pm on BBC 2 with each episode an hour in duration. The show was first made in 2007 and since then there have been three series produced and 30 episodes. Like most decent reality / entertainment shows the theme and prize on offer are simple. The show is front by Michelin Stared French chef Raymond Blanc. In each series nine couples compete for their chance to open their very own restaurant supported by Raymond and his two inspectors / judges Sarah Willingham and David Moore. Each week the couples are given a task which they must attempt. This week I tuned in and some of these tasks included cooking a dinner service for a team of professional rugby players with specific nutritional needs; healthy food low in carbohydrate and high in protein and fibre, sounds simple enough. The couple made a right hash of it feeding them food from a barbeque with plenty of bread, pasta and even cake for desert! Another couple had to feed a large party and make a cake from scratch in the shape of an aeroplane at takeoff; needless to say their effort was hopeless! Overall the tasks are excellent and really test the couples cooking, hosting and waiting skills. I find the show has a similar feel to the apprentice. The two judges Sarah and David remind me very much of Margaret and Nick as they watch the couples and give Raymond their thoughts and feedback, the show is narrated in a similar style and there is even a boardroom style showdown at the end of each episode. During this time the "restaurant of the week" is decided and presented and the three worst performing couples are given an extra task to perform to try and save them selves. After this the three couples are called in and one is told by Raymond "I'm closing your restaurant!" Not too dissimilar from Sir Alan Sugars "You're Fired!" I think you'll agree. I found the show very interesting and was thoroughly entertained for the hour I watched it. I found the two judges Sarah and David quite annoying as they walked around with a terrible are of arrogance. However, they didn't put me off as the shows content far outweighed the negative aspects as it was quite funny and enjoyable viewing. Overall, I'd say it is a great show for those interested in cookery / reality tv. Plus, if you miss an episode you can catch it on the BBC I-Player. Thanks for reading, feel free to comment.

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          25.11.2009 19:21
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          Wouldn't want to be future silent partners Sarah Willingham or David Moore....

          The Restaurant is a reality T.V styled show mid-way through its third series and currently being aired on BBC2. For those who have not caught it- think The Apprentice but with Raymond Blanc instead of Sir Alan Sugar. Nick and Margret, Sir Alan's aides, are here replaced by restauranters in their own right Sarah Willingham and David Moore, who cast a beady eye over nine couples each competing to run their own business in partnership with Raymond Blanc. Each week, another couple is removed from the competition until the chosen finallists are left to go head-to-head against each other. This year's series has sen subtle changes from the previous two in that all the restaurants are based in one area and that the show is only on for one day a week instead two. In the previous two series, badly performing couples were put into a challenge situation from which only one could walk away. This year, the decision to close that week's worst restaurant is made in one night making for a much tenser and possibly close run competition. This is an improvement because although the first series was superb, the last series felt a little as though it had ever so slightly lost its way. Thats not to say it wasn't compelling viewing, especially for people actually in the catering trade like myself, but it's certainly great to see the show being stream-lined this time around in order to make it a much smoother show. This year competing couples include a Nigerian couple aiming to promote Nigerian food but who fail to realise that cooking goat meat for 20 mins is nowhere near long enough to render it in any way eatable; two lads who want a restaurant based around picnic food (no don't ask me either??!!??); a couple of ex-soldiers who met through the Armed Services and have decided to combine their indidviual skills and a homely couple specialising in home-cooked grub who certainly look like they enjoy their own food! Each week, their normal service is complicated deliberately by Raymond with key ingredients he wants the couples to use or an assignment they must perform. This can have varied and sometimes amusing results as each couple attempts to rise to the challenge.... The level of skill shown is the usual mixed bag with one couple, a mother and daughter, being excused in the first round for their dangerous example of knife skills that had me, a fully qualified chef, quite literally cowering from the screen. How an accident was avoided I will never know! Another couple still in the competition at the moment seem to be a right mixed-match pairing. The member of the duo who works in the kitchen shows real flair, has proper skill and is producing phenomenal food each and every week; his opposite number working front-of-house however is an embarrassment! Faced with a barrage of complaints from one of several tables in their restaurant last week, his response was simply "I guess we won't be seeing you back again then?" with no efforts of placation. Customer Service seems to be far from his forte and you get the strong impression that he really isn't that interested in winning the competition. Who IS going to win this series is a very good question. My favourites to go through to the final, the afore mentioned Military guys, quit last week despite previously winning Raymond's Restaurant Of The Week (his award for excellence in the competition) because Front Of House Manager, Badger, wasn't sure it was what he wanted any more. This despite a continuously good and friendly service and a high level of food coming out from the kitchen. With them now gone, I fear my attentions must turen to the home-cooked couple who are what they eat. They seem to be the only other complimentary pairing left standing.... One thing is for certain; this may not be any Apprentice but it IS still mucho fun to watch. And shows that running a restaurant is NO easy task.....

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            23.11.2009 15:16
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            Enough variety to keep you interested, and a good idea for a reality show

            I am writing a review of the current (third) series, as I didn't see all of Series 2, or any of Series 1, so don't feel that I can properly comment upon them. I really enjoy this show. It's on TV on Thursdays on BBC2. The series began with 9 couples auditioning in front of Raymond Blanc and his business partners. Each couple had to prepare a dish at the audition, and present it to Raymond, explaining why it represented what the concept for their future restaurant was all about. 2 couples were knocked out at this stage, which I am a little confused about. Did the BBC only have 7 restaurants in the first place, so Raymond was always told to get rid of 2, or did he think he was only getting rid of 1, but another was so bad they had to go as well, so there might have been an 8th restaurant but it was never needed? Also, where did the 9 couples come from? How were they selected? They are surely not the finalists of a long selection process as quite a few of the 'chefs' could clearly not cook very well. So were they just hand picked due to the racial mix, mix of married couples and friends, etc? There must have been some kind of selection process, as surely more people would applied, and, in all fairness, the 9 that got through initially were surely not the best the country has to offer in terms of budding retaurateurs! The first couple that failed did so really while preparing their food for the audition. They were making some kind of coconut mousse, using a fresh coconut, and struggled to open it. They looked like they had never done so before, but surely must have practised at home? Each couple at the audition was put into a group with 2 other couples, and had to decide between them which couple would make a starter, which a main course, and which a dessert. So a couple may end up having to make the part of a meal they didn't want to make, but I think they had to do the same thing in the last series, so surely they would have known they could have had to do any of the three, and would have thoroughly practised preparing one of each?! But anyway, these women, a mother and daughter, found it really hard to open the coconut and it was commented upon how dangerous they were being with regard to using knives. When they did finally get into the coconut one tried to open a tin of evaporated milk by basically stabbing at the tin with a very large knife, until a clearly worried Raymond showed her the obvious tin opener. When they presented the food Raymond told them of his worries but said he would try the food, which was quite awful as the mousse was very runny, and then asked them to leave straight away. The second couple, a mother and son, also to leave at the audition prepared a quite nice starter, but had no clue when it came to what the concept for their restaurant was. Again, they had to have a concept last year, and the others had one so they had clearly been told to prepare one, so why on earth would you go in for that without having done all the work involved?! After that, the remaining 7 couples had to spend a few days in groups at high street chains, learning how to run a restaurant. They then had to be in charge of a lunch time and then dinner time service, and the couple that fared the worst was asked to leave. It was interesting watching them. One young, quite cocky lad, who obviously thought he would have no trouble cooking for lots of people really struggled badly, but was kept in the show. Finally, the 6 couples left were given keys to their own restaurant. I'm sure last year it was 8 or 9 couples, but I suppose the BBC is trying to save money. After that the format of the shows has been to have a challenge, such as selling some food they have cooked at a farmer's market, followed by an evening service, during which Raymond or one of his partners visits the restaurant to see how everything is going. Then, at the end of the night the couple who did the worst at the challenge and/or service has to leave, and the couple who did the best is given the title of 'Restaurant of the Week.' One member of the couple takes on the responsibility of 'Head Chef' while the other is in charge of 'Front of House' - generally being a good host/ess Now there are 4 couples left - a pair of female friends whose concept is Nigerian food; a pair of male friends who used to run a bar and were quite full of themselves but are learning it's harder than they thought, and whose concept is picnic food; a married couple (or boyfriend/girlfriend, not sure) who make big portions and rich food that I am sure I would love but on which Raymond and his partners are not so keen, whose concept is traditional British food; and another pair of male friends, one of whom is probably the best chef in the competition, but his partner has horrible customer service skills! Their concept is fine dining at low cost. It is a good show and I am hooked, but like I say, I do wonder how the couples were picked.

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            20.11.2009 18:00
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            Watch it!

            The Restaurant is a TV programme shown on BBC 2 on Thursday nights! The show is a reality TV show and is similar to something like the Apprentice but a food version. This show is obviously based on the concept and success of many other TV shows like the Apprentice, food shows like Masterchef and all the other shows like Dragon`s Den, X Factor e.t.c The idea of the show is for world famous chef Raymond Blanc to find a couple to help him run a restaurant and the couples are gradually knocked out week by week until they have the winning couple. It is in its third season and seems to have got a bit worse. I still enjoy it but felt it used to be more exciting and interesting. There used to be two shows with one of them being a challenge but they seem to have got rid of this which is a shame! Raymond has help from his two assistants e.g Nick and Margaret. The assistants are called Sarah Willingham and David Moore. These two are quite good but David is quite strict and harsh most of the time! The show has lots of dramatic moments and it is really interesting to see how different people handle all the situations and the pressure. It really does make restaurants look a complicated subject as they need the right concept, food, front of house, pricing, servings and staff to pull off a good restaurant. The people who join the show have all sorts of different personalities and it does make interesting viewing. For example one of the front of house contestants said to a couple "I guess we won`t being seeing you again, then. " and walked off after someone complaining! Overall I find this an enjoyable TV show which in my opinion has got worse this year than previous ones for various reasons! This review may appear on other websites under the names mariofan123 and ns1209.

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              19.11.2009 10:19
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              Its a shame the format was changed

              The restaurant is a TV programme showing at the moment on BBC2 fronted by Raymond Blanc it is an upmarket reality TV show. The premise Raymond is looking for a couple top to join him in running a restaurant and the selection process starts with about 10 couples who are wittled down one by one until the couple are picked. The show is in its third season and has been tweaked with a couple of times before its present format, in my opinion the tweaking has detracted from the show rather than added. The first two seasons featured all the couples living in Raymods huge house/restaurant and each had a restaurant somewhere in the South West of England. Each week the restaurant would have a challenge and they would be rated on the amount they took in and the impression they gave, at the end of each task each would be grilled by Raymond and his two helpers and give words of wisdom or condemnation. After the grilling all the couples would be bought together and one would be named as Restaurant of the Week and would be given a star to be shown in their restaurant that week. The selection process would continue until the last two couples chosen as the weakest by Raymond would be given a big task to try and take on Raymonds criticisms and act on them. They would be helped by the other couples. Finally one of the couples would be picked by Raymond and asked to leave the show. This format mant that the show had to be aired over two nights and had a feeling of anticipation, the first show would present where the couples had gone wrong then the challenge would usually be big bold and hard giving the show plenty of opportunities to make a real mess of everything. That was the format, I loved it, it would present the background to the restaurant business, the complexcities of running a business and what can go wrong. Then the following night would have a big challenge and finish with a climax where the two couples would be sat around a table with Raymond and one of them would have their restaurant closed. The final shots would be the couple shutting their restaurant and locking the door. Thats how it used to be and worked well, it gave plenty of opportunty for superb TV, there would always be chances for the restaurants to go wrong and had plenty of drama when Raymond picked his couple to go. This year nearly everything has changed, and for me not for the better. Firstly they don't live together and therefore the communal feeling has gone. Secondly the show has lost the challenge aspect and therefore is simply an hour long show, it shows where each restaurant has gone right or wrong that week and then one of the restaurants is given Restaurant of the Week and then with barely any build up of tension one of the the others is closed for good. I can only assume that the show costs a lot less than the previous two seasons, they don't live together in a huge house and they don't have the expense of the big challenge but the show has lost a lot of its edge. Its clear that Raymond is hardly around most of the observing is done by his assistants Sarah Willingham (hot in a Karen Brady style way and has taken over the Sarah Beeny role of being preganant in every season) and David Moore. Sarah and David are to be co partners in the restaurant this time around, both were in it last year but just as advisors. The show has lost its edge and is becoming another reality TV show without the quality present in the first two seasons, its a shame as it stood up as a way of making a high class reality TV show without the slide into sloppy TV. Still 4 stars for the concept and its still very watcheable but a year ago it would have got 5 and probably more if I could give it. The Restaurant airs at 8pm on Thursday nights, I think Rebecca and Stephen might win but she needs to throw herself into being a restauranteur.

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                12.11.2009 11:11
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                Competing to win a restaurant

                This will be my very first review of a TV programme - I watch rather a lot of TV but worry I'll give too much away if I review them before the series is out! With this show it is rather different as the ending is already a forgone conclusion, one couple will win the chance to open a restaurant with Raymond Blanc (more on the 'chance' to open bit later). The show is onto its third series and is screened on BBC2 (Wednesday for us in Scotland) Thursday for the rest of the UK. The concept was clearly developed to take advantage of the publics love of reality tv shows and is a combination of the Apprentice, Masterchef and in parts Dragons Den with a sprig of Come Dine With Me. In other words right up my street. Raymond Blanc is a well known chef and restaurateur and looking past the slightly irritating, although some would say sexy, accent he is a good host. The previous two series have seen 9 couples given their own restaurant and has been a long drawn out affair with 2 hour long shows every week. This can become a little tedious even for my taste and this year they seem to have learnt a little with a format change and a shorter season, 8 episodes in total with one hour per week. Whether the shows quality will be unaffected by this remains to be seen. The premise of the show is that each couple has a cook and a front of house. Now the great thing and stroke of genius about this show is that not all of the contestants have experience, in fact some have never even been waitresses. Some cant cook but they certainly have a good go and in previous series the transformation of these mere novices into chefs and efficient business runners has been remarkable. Based on the calibre of contestants this year I am not so sure they will triumph quite so much. The first episode introduced 9 couples and each had to cook one dish in Raymond's kitchen that summed up their restaurant. Raymond Blanc was seen pacing round in his usual watchful and sometimes sarcastic manner joined by his two side kicks, Sarah Willingham and David Moore (who this series will be equity partners in the new business) offer insightful guidance based on their collective experience in the industry. The couples include: Barney & Badger (yes really) Chris & Nathan (Chris seems to be a darn good cook), Daisy & Nadine (Nigerian theme restaurant) Janet & Sean (I don't want to give too much away but anyone who saves Raymond Blanc supermarket smoked salmon as a starter deserves to be running nothing more than a McDonalds outlet!) JJ & James (any larger egos and the other contestants would have to find new kitchens) Sarah & Jo (absolutely nothing to say about these wet lettuces) Frances & Lucy (seem very young will be good to know how they handle the pressure) Natalie & Sandy (this is just too good but she didn't know how to use a tin opener and instead nearly stabbed herself with a large carving knive that Raymond had to remove from her grasp - he promptly sent them home!) Rebecca & Stephen - (my current top tip) As you can see they have a range of personalities and are certainly interesting to watch. Each week they are set challenges, such as up selling, marketing, reducing waste etc, all tasks that would be essential in a restaurant. What I think makes this show unique is that they are in fact running restaurants, serving to the public and literally being thrown in at the deep end. Such pressure cannot help but bring out the best and worst in people making this a really good watch. The couples get their restaurants in Episode 3 which at time of writing has not been screened. Complete with cutting comments from the inspectors and the unravelling of many of the couples relationships this is worth a watch even if the food angle isn't your thing. The Catch: they are very clear on the show that the winners "will have the chance" this is quite different from "will be given their own restaurant an Raymond's full backing". I shouldn't dismiss it however as last series winners The Cheerful Soul restaurant did indeed open in Marlow in July 2009 with Raymonds backing and support - lets be honest if I was Raymond I wouldn't want to commit all that cash either unless I was 100% sure none of my business had staff in that attempted to open coconuts with kitchen knives....

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                  04.11.2009 13:08
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                  So it's time to say a happy bonjour to Raymond Blanc as The Restaurant makes a welcome return. It was only the second series which got me hooked on this programme and I doubt very much that I will miss an episode. This is its third outing and already the more accessible time slots mean I can watch it without having to resort to the catch up method. All in all it's a very simple concept, 9 couples compete to set up their own restaurant with back up and financial help from Raymond Blanc. Naturally as it his name which is behind it all he wants it to do well, hence the reasoning as to why it is not down to the public vote. Personalities can easily sway who you might want to win. It is a business and meant to make money, you don't want a couple who aren't that great but are funny or nice to knock out another who are the complete opposite. The couples can be formed however they like. Whether it be husband and wife, best friends or mother and daughter. It's safe to say that they do need a pretty strong relationship to get through it. You're likely to see plenty of tears, tantrums and minor tiffs throughout the series but then the prize is something which they have always wanted. A lot is at stake here. Each pairing comprimises of one who will become the cook/chef and the other who will represent front of house. On occassion you do get the impression that maybe these people haven't thought it through. They may think they've got what it takes but when confronted with outspoken customers and complaints a lot of them can't always cope with the pressure. You only had to see last series to work that one out, however you can forgive them for this as they are new to it all. So far we have already lost two couples. A mother and daughter team who decided to try and open tins of food with very sharp knives and a mother and son who cooked quite a good dish for Raymond but they had no idea about what the concept of their restaurant was. I can understand the first one but there were far worse dishes which were served for Raymond and co to taste than the second. Each couple will be loaned a restaurant where each week they will have to deal with the events which will be pushed their way. For example a mexican themed day which happened last year. They still have one more obstacle to get through yet though. The running of three major chain restaurants. You can see the outcome tomorrow night! The downside to this programme is that I feel it does not feature Raymond nearly enough. We see him for a bit at the beginning and then at the end when he's deciding who should stay and who she should go. Instead of seeing the occurances for himself he sends out his two sidekicks (inspectors) -David Moore and Sarah Willingham-to inspect. Not that I'm saying that they don't know their stuff. Sarah Willingham being a very successful entrepreneur in the restaurant world and David Moore has a lot of experience of working as front of house. With all that in mind this is a reality show with a twist. There is something worthwhile coming out of it and they aren't there to mess about and have fun. There is more to running a restaurant than churning out good food and the pairings will have to work together as a team otherwise they will fail. There are 8 episodes in total which are shown on Thursday nights, BBC2 at 8pm. It lasts for 1 hour which is just the right amount of time as you get to see everything without it being crammed in or dragged out. The second show will be on tomorrow but you can catch up on any missed programmes by visiting bbc.co.uk/iplayer just in case. A very interesting and enjoyable series which although has only just started is not one to miss!

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                    19.02.2009 19:00
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                    Cooking apprentice style

                    Most TV chefs get on my nerves however there are two that I can put up with, one is the rather cuddly Jamie and the other is the not so cuddly Raymond Blanc. This is a sort of cooking vrsion of the Apprentice however in this show the contestants compete in couple and the ultimate prize for the winning couple is that they get to open a restaurant with Blanc himself with in reality will probably mean that they do all the work while he lends his name to the enterprise. Each week the weakest couple who perform the worst in the food challenge will be kicked off the programme, the challenges are nice and varied and really test both their culinary skills and their ability to work as a team and to manage a task. This programme works because Blanc himself has a certain prescence and a repuation that he has earned over the years based on his merits and any programme where he demonstrates his talets is well worth watching. Naturally because this is an entertainment show some of the contestants are picked because they make good TV rather than good food and this provides some of teh drama in the show and also the funny bits as well. For me the best programmes are the challenges where the pressure is on however it is also quite interesting to see behind the scenes of a business that we all act as customers but never really understand what it takes to make a success of a restaurant, this show helps to shine some light on it as well as being good entertainment.

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                      30.10.2008 22:35
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                      Great viewing!

                      I am a big fan of The Restaurant. I have seen a previous series that was excellent. This year is no different. There were 9 couples, each with a restaurant. Raymond Blanc chooses couples each week that much compete in a challenge. One of them will have their restaurant closed. One restaurant closes and one couple leave each week. The winning couple get to keep their restaurant and go into partnership with Raymond Blanc himself. One half of the couple does the cooking, one does the front of house. Most of them are rubbish! I think my husband and I should go on this programme because he can cook well and although I am shy and nervous and would be terrible at running a restaurant, I would be far better than any of the people on there! Ok, that's a bit harsh - some are quite good and have improved during the course of the series. The programme is excellent, really really interesting an enjoyable. I love Raymond Blanc's accent. That alone makes the series worth watching! It is great for foodies but it hasn't really given me any ideas for cooking. It is fascinating to look at the ins and outs of running a restaurant and of course there is the big brother element of watching couples flounder under the pressure. It's too late this year but seriously watch it next time around - there has to be a next time! I want to be on it!

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                        02.10.2008 21:54
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                        The restaurant - watch it but don't book a table!

                        The Restaurant is currently being aired on BBC2 on Wednesday and Thursday at 8pm. As somebody who isn't a big fan of reality tv programmes the first series of this really caught my imagination last year and I am already addicted to the second series. Despite having the 'reality tv' tag, the programme falls somewhere between The Apprentice and Masterchief, rather than the Big Brother school of reality tv. This means that the majority of the contestants have some modicum of talent and ability and aren't just fame-hungry morons. The basic premise of the show is that nine couples have been chosen to compete for the opportunity to go into partnership with the celebrated chef, Raymond Blanc, and open a real-life restaurant with him. The couples aren't necessarily husband and wife, as the contestants include a father and daughter team and friends, as well as more traditional couples. They also have varying degrees of experience with regards to cooking and managing a restaurant, as some of the contestants are actually trained chefs, whereas some have just gained experience cooking for their own families. Each couple has one member responsible for running the kitchen and the other is 'front of house', taking bookings, dealing with customers and sorting out the inevitable cock-ups that occur every week! It is the cock-ups and crises that make the show such compelling viewing for me. Sometimes I find it almost painful and stressful to watch, as you can see the mistakes and errors of judgement and can predict exactly what is going to go wrong for each team (and it does). As part of the programme, each couple has been given a real-life restaurant to run which is open to real-life paying customers (poor folk!) This is where some of the couples get really stressed as, even though they may well be very talented cooks, it is very different trying to cater for huge numbers of people as well as trying to impress Raymond Blanc. Just to pile on the pressure even more, each week Raymond adds a particular theme or specific task against which each couple will be judged. This week, for example, the couples were each given a different country at random and had to promote that country's food within their own menu. At the end of Wednesday's episode, the three worst-performing couples are selected and they then have to complete a 'challenge' which is shown on the Thursday. Previous challenges have included running an outlet at a motorway service station and feeding about 200 people at one of Oxford University's student halls. The couple who are deemed to fail the challenge are out of the running and their restaurant is closed. This bit is usually very hard to judge as most of the couples make fatal errors and try to cut corners, leading to major disappointment - usually at the poor customers' expense! For me, the only criticism that I can think of is how little input Raymond Blanc has into the whole process. His role is akin to Alan Sugar in the Apprentice, in that he sends his minions out to assess the contestants performance during tasks and challenges who then provide feedback to Raymond. He then sits in judgement saying things along the lines of 'zis is not ze way to run a restaurant' although this week he actually said 'zis is bollocks' which took me completely by surpise! (Incidentally, that was over one couple misspelling an entire menu in both French and English - including a dessert of 'poached pairs'!) If I was Raymond and was seriously going to go into partnership with one of these couples, I would be a bit more hands-on about the whole business! As we are now part way through the series, some of the couples have already tried and failed miserably. (As the voiceover states, 'their dreams over, their restaurant closed...forever.) There are still some couples left that I love to hate. My least favourite are Michele and Russell who I find totally nauseating. They are always gazing lovingly into each other's eyes and the woman never stops smiling - even when she is being berated by Raymond! The worst line from the series has to be when Michele described her hopes for the new restaurant...'We want people to feel like they're walking into a big cuddle!' I'm sorry but that alone would make me want to throw up - even before I'd tasted the dodgy food! I also find myself getting annoyed with some of the other couples when they blatantly ignore the feedback from Raymond at the end of each episode and just go off and repeat the same old mistakes! For those reasons, the programme is painfully addictive and I love guessing which disastrous restaurant will be the next to face the chop (although it's often a close call and much more difficult to choose the restaurant worthy of becoming the 'restaurant of the week'!) If you haven't seen an episode yet, you're missing a treat. Jamie Oliver, it ain't, and you're not going to pick up many cooking tips but as a guide of 'how not to run a restaurant' it takes some beating! Edit May 09: Can't wait for the next series to start

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                          01.10.2008 11:11
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                          Proper reality TV

                          The Restaurant is essentially The Apprentice for 'foodies', and like that extremely successful reality show, the contestants that are put forward by the production team are not always ideal for the task ahead, but, of course, make good telly. The format of the show is eight pairings made up of couples - which can be friends, relatives or lovers - each awarded an empty restaurant by top chef Raymond Blanc in various towns and cities across the nation. They then have to apply their business model and acumen, as well as their own food theme, to make cash for Blanc who is picking up the tab (apparently). The winning couple will be offered the chance to go into partnership with the very French chef (only famous because he has a sexy voice, if we are honest). His branded resturant in Milton Keynes recently recieved a derisory one-out-of-five rating in a respected good food guide. For each of the twelve episodes we will followed their weekly challenges to prove to the rather cliché but amiable French chef that the pairings can not only make decent food but run a business and more importantly make him some money. Raymond sends his expert out to keep an eye on them and report back on their failings and achievements. Unlike the Apprentice, it's not always the one who makes the most money who wins. That one eviction a week tension mechanism in present, Raymond doing the firing as the contestants gather around a big tale in his big resturant. ---------The contestants-------- (Evicted) Richard & Scott, a couple of airline stewards had everything but the pink poodle in the kitchen. There restaurant theme of 'Sorbets and Seasoning' never materialized. Richard & Scott just wanted to be on telly, probably just to keep their relationship together, not a good idea. Thye were evicted first. Tim & Lindsay Lindsay was this series teary wife and its waterfalls as soon as the pressure is on. You just want to slap her with big wet fish. Alistair & James These are a couple of mates from London, although acting like a couple of Queens already, Alistair the wannabe cook and James the willing front of house. They some how survived this far and went on to have some spin off work for the BBC, which you may have seen this year. Mike and Harriet (Evicted) The father and daughter team were the most middle-class on the show, he doing it his way, just trying to make his nice daughter happy by doing the project with her. As with most of the other couples, neither can really cook the good stuff. They were dead couple walking early on. Peter and Laura A Welsh and English/Chinese coiuple so the menu an equal muddle in their restaurant called the 'Welsh Wok'? Steven & Helen The middle-aged married couple have impressed early on and were quickly Raymond's favorites. Michelle & Russell The shows attractive young couple hadn't been pulling up trees early on but got a run at it as they are cute and sweet, there only for that reason. I don't think Russell said a word in the first five episodes. Chris & Caroline (Evicted) A young smiley couple who are just enjoying life and having a laugh here and smart enough to realize this is about their mistakes not achievements. I liked these guys but they went early. -The early episodes- The couples on show are just about from all walks of life, but some already treating this like a game show, no doubt encouraged by the production team to drop the odd plate here and a big swearing fit there. The attractive Caribbean mother and daughter and the predictably tearful and hissy fit same sex couple seemed to be there only for the sake of political correctness and those BBC ethnic and minority quotas, and were first to be voted off, pretty awful at the tasks, the Caribbean pairing not even able to get through the preliminary round, a round clearly put in to make sure the pairings could at least make toast. Where's the new rusty Lee when you need her! The daughter only seemed to be on because she was very pretty and so wasn't allowed near mums ingredients. After the opening eviction it all settled down and the pairings began to get used to their restaurant and kitchens and we got to see if they can serve some actual customers and turn a buck. There was no eviction on week three of the main restaurant challenge as Alistair and James were exempt because they had gas leak in their restaurant and so couldn't take part. Week three officially saw two teams go up for eviction after performing poorly in the previous challenge...one where the customer pays what they think the food is worth type deal. Father & daughter team Mike and Harriet had to play off against gays Richard and Scott in a motorway service station challenge where all the teams had to prepare and serve grub to the drivers and passengers, but incorporating their ideas with presentation and menus. As you already know by now the second minority couples on the show were the second to go, airline stewards Richard and Scott's idea of serving what turned out to be airline food to hairy lorry drivers not a great one. It was XL airlines time for the gay guys, an angry Blanc kicking them off, a service station where they really should be cooking now. Week three and the competitors are given pig each for their restaurant service, the instruction from Raymond to sell all of the pig as food on their menu, not an easy challenger for any eatery. Most fared quite well - happily none of the chefs Muslims in keeping with that ethnic quota at the BBC. Drama Queens Alistair and James were in the challenge, again going up against Mike and Harriet. The challenge, with the help of the other team members, was to prepare a dinner at two different snobby Oxford colleges. It quickly went pear-shaped as they made the fatal mistake of serving 'blue-collar food' to Britain's elite. So much for 50% of Oxbridge stock coming from the proletariat! Fortunately for the whole British class system the Dons failed to spot they were drinking cheap wine after the chefs went over budget, although grumbled at being served a 'leg of chicken' for the first time in the colleges 500 year history. It would be stubborn Mike and his sweet daughter who lost their restaurant this time, his pushy manner too much for all. How James and Alistair survived it is beyond me. The following week saw the teams selling foreign food to foreign clients. Unfortunately they hadn't cooked the foreign food in question before and it was to the same nationality. The specially invited Mexican clientele were not impressed with cold burritos. Michelle and Russell won again, the pretty people building momentum. Peter and Laura, Chris and Caroline and Tim and Lindsay were put in the challenge by Raymond. This time they had to sell and prepare airline food, their menus, and their cooking, first class passengers too, including Raymond and the judges. Sadly the likeable Yorkshire couples of Chris and Caroline were found out after buying in most of their menus from ASDA and found themselves in the departure lounge, losing to a Chinese cook who could prepare rice. That's how haphazard Chris was. -Conclusions- I think what's good about the Restaurant is its not cynical and the people on it are not looking for TV careers off the back off it (as far as we know), which is often the case with these things. The contestants clearly want to win the prize and the last ones standing will be the best able pairing to open a restaurant with Raymond Blanc after 12 weeks, which is not the case in 'The Apprentice' any more. Sugars candidates couldn't give a stuff if they work with him or not and it was always about being seen and winning on that show, pumped up salespeople showing off on telly. Apparently the winners of that show spend more time opening things with Sugar at celebrity bashes to promote his ego than actually grafting. The winners of The Resturant, on the other hand, will have to work very hard as running a restaurant full-time isn't easy. The inquisition at the end of each show works well and Blanc doesn't need a bigger chair than his fellow judges to prove he's the most important guy there. His passion for the show and the fact he's a decent guy who cares for his contestants and wants them to succeed is all that's needed for him to be the focus point. It would be nice more interaction if he helped them with new recipes every week and stuff, Gordon Ramsey style, but one would presume he has more important things to do with his time. But the show works smoothly and is just nice gentle evening viewing with no posturing and inflated egos on show, the new series delayed because of the current climate in the foob business. That posturing is ok on some of these gigs as it makes for great entertainment, but not when the show becomes about the people rather than the task in hand, which is where the likes of Wife Swap and Big Brother imploded. The task in hand here is to learn how to run a restaurant and that's exactly what you get. How refreshing is that.

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                            30.09.2008 23:45
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                            A great way to spend an evening

                            The Restaurant is a reality show that is similar to the Apprentice, with it's clever voiceover, weekly challenges and constant threat of being ousted from the competition, and prize of a restaurant and mentorship by reknowned chef Raymond Blanc.. It involves nine couples being given the chance to run their own restaurants, which involves preparing menus, marketing and sorting out staff. There tends to also be a general challenge for the week, such as getting customers to pay what the food is worth. The team that does the best that week gets the prized award of being Restaurant of the Week, the worst three are put into a challenge. This could involve anything from cooking in motorway service stations to cooking for posh University banquets, aided by their competitors that managed to escape. Whoever does the worst in this has their restaurant closed, and their dreams ended for the foreseeable future. What really makes this programme watchable is the couples involved, ranging from married couples, to father and daughter, to best friends. There is a real mix of partnerships and some interesting dynamics, with some cracking one-liners (namely the husband joking about having a mid-life crisis and affair with a 20 year old, in front of his less than amused wife). I'm currently watching the second series, and finding the father and daughter almost painful to watch. The daughter's cooking is probably quite good, but undiscovered due to her father's lazy and uninspiring marketing techniques. He refuses to admit he's wrong and often comes across as quite rude in the process. In addition there is the couple that tries to successfully combine Chinese and Welsh cuisine, often baffling the local folk and a pair of friends with decent food, but dodgy service often lacking cutlery for the contestants. What makes this programme interesting to watch is when things go wrong, and wondering how severely they will be reprimanded by Raymond Blanc. There are also two judges (where every episode seems to focus on them driving very fast to the many restaurants dotted around the country) who are often less than pleased, and point out silly mistakes to the contestants. I prefer this kind of reality show, as it involves customers actually doing the worthwhile task of running a business, and the tasks are tried out on real paying customers. Also, I love watching any food prgramme, though some of the dishes are less than appetising (crispy pig's liver salad anyone?). I think it's too early for me to have favourites, but the fun of this series is watching the contestants progress and restaurants flourish and then supporting a pair to win. If you want to watch, The Restaurant comes on Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 8pm on BBC2. It is also of course on iplayer.

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                            Nine couples compete to operate a restaurant, with given tasks and challenges set by French chef Raymond Blanc. The couple that best completes or is most successful with fulfilling the challenges is awarded at the end of the eight weeks a restaurant to run on their own in Oxfordshire.