In Best New Restaurant, acclaimed chef and restaurateur Tom Colicchio dines across the U.S. as host, judge, and executive producer, taking a look at the food world from a fresh direction: the restaurant. The series is also executive produced by restaurateur and TV personality Gordon Ramsay.
The majority of the series takes place on location in the restaurants themselves to highlight each establishment’s unique point of view. In the end, only one will be crowned Best New Restaurant and win an editorial feature in Bon Appétit, a featured spot at America’s number one global food festival, Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appétit 2015, and $100,000.
Joining Tom on this gastronomic journey across the country are culinary experts Maggie Nemser (CEO & Editor-in-Chief, BlackboardEats) and Jeffrey Zurofsky (Co-founder & Partner, ’wichcraft), who will offer their unique and diverse opinions to help guide Tom in his final decisions. The team will evaluate each restaurant on not only the dishes that are served, but also everything from décor to hospitality to overall concept.
The 16 restaurants hail from four cities including New York City, Los Angeles, Austin and Miami, and were chosen to compete based on an extensive search in conjunction with the editors at Bon Appétit as well as executive producers Tom Colicchio and Gordon Ramsay.
In the first round of competition, the restaurants are divided into pairs based around a common theme reflected in their concepts or culinary influences. All are challenged to the same three tasks testing their overall performance, the strength of their staff, and the clarity of their concept. First, the restaurants are subjected to a "Pressure Test," in which 30 hungry diners descend on the restaurants without notice to see how the businesses handle the stress of a packed house.
Next, Tom sends in two "Undercover Diners" wired with hidden cameras in order to get a patron’s perspective when the restaurants do not know they are being judged. Finally, the two paired-up restaurants come together in a neutral location and serve dinner for 30 VIP diners. At the end of each of the first eight episodes, Tom declares one restaurant the victor, and the establishments move on to the semifinals.
The semifinal rounds will feature the restaurants battling in two groups to open a pop-up restaurant based around what the eateries see as the next evolution of their current concepts. The grand finale pits the final two restaurants against each other in a head-to-head contest to put forward their best service possible for a group of 50 VIP diners at Tom’s restaurant Riverpark in New York City.