In the clutter of cookery shows on TV here's one that aims to discover not just the best chef but the best restaurant idea, with the winner of "Grilled" pocketing a whopping Rs 1.5 crore ($230,000) for launching a dream eatery.
"Food is a uniquely delightful genre that elicits interest from everyone. There are many minds in the country, young and old, which are buzzing with novel ideas to take the food industry in India to a new level. This is where 'Grilled' comes in. The show offers budding food entrepreneurs a distinct opportunity to make their culinary dreams come true," Shruti Takulia, Creative Director, India Productions, Fox Networks Group, told IANS in an email interview.
With an enviable line-up of eminent judges and mentors -- leading restaurateur Riyaaz Amlani, globally renowned chef Sarah Todd and musician and foodie Vishal Dadlani -- "the show offers contestants a chance to learn from the best. The contestants are pushed to the limits, and are tested in high pressure situations, on creativity, business acumen, planning and, of course, their gastronomic talent", Takulia added of the 10-episode show, which is now at its half-way mark.
While the prize money is the ultimate reward for the participants, "the highlight is the valuable mentorship that they will receive during its duration, which will help them give life to their food dreams in the future", she said of the 12 contestants the show opened with, half of whom have been eliminated.
Initially, contestants were required to present their ideas on a plate, offering the judges a glimpse of the kind of food or restaurant they dream of building or growing. This was followed by the contestants presenting their business plans, capturing the uniqueness of their idea and expectations in terms of investments and how they see the investment panning out in the long run.
The eliminations are based on the contestants' performance in the challenges. Each challenge has a few weak links that are called out by the judges; the other contestants too have a chance to give an opinion on who they thought was the weakest in the challenge. A discussion and deliberation with the judges follow, and one contestant is eliminated at the end of every episode.
How were the judges picked?
"We were looking for a leading restaurateur who understands the business. Although there are a few names in the industry, Riyaaz Amlani tops the list. Sarah Todd is a globally renowned chef and a face on Fox Life. And, of course, we wanted some hungry rush in the show with someone who would be difficult with the contestant. So we approached Vishal Dadlani. He is a complete no-nonsense person and the most difficult to please customer for the contestants," Takulia explained.
The judges, of course, were thrilled to bits.
"Honestly, it was a little overwhelming for me as it brought back so many memories of being a contestant in MasterChef Australia. I truly felt the anxiety, the passion, the pressure that all the contestants were going through," said Sarah Todd, who has created a 250-cover Australian-themed "Antares" restaurant at Vagator in Goa.
"The show was not just about cooking but also about the various aspects that go into the restaurant business and that's like one of my favourite subjects," said Riyaaz Amlani, CEO & MD, Impresario Handmade Restaurants, and President of The National Restaurant Association of India, who contributed Rs 1 crore to the prize kitty.
"It felt great! It's nice to be in a new space, for a few days. Riyaaz and I were in college together and have been friends since; so we had a laugh! Sarah is lovely too; so it was a super fun vibe from the word go," said Dadlani.
"Grilled" airs on Fox Life at 9 p.m. on Mondays.
(Vishnu Makhijani can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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