After losing The Apprentice to BBC One channel bosses at BBC two cooked up another business-themed reality hit last year with The Restaurant, hosted by world-renowned chef and restaurateur Raymond Blanc.
The show sees Blanc put pairs of aspiring restaurateurs through their paces with the prize of a partnership with the famed chef.
“It’s a huge prize!” says Blanc. “Most people work a lifetime to get their own restaurant. So, to be given not only a restaurant but all the existing infrastructure around it is of great value. And it’s a huge responsibility for me to choose the right pair. Viewers will see some excellent competitors in this series. But can they run a successful restaurant? A good restaurant is meant to make things look easy but, beneath the surface, is a great complexity – like the engine of a Rolls Royce. That is the great trick – the secret magic of success.”
Raymond is assisted in his serach for the perfect partners by eagle-eyed industry experts Sarah Willingham, one-time owner of The Bombay Bicycle Club, and David Moore, manager of two Michelin-starred London eatery Pied a Terre, each knows exactly what he is looking for.
“We talk a lot about passion,” he says. “But passion is not enough – you need willpower. Very few people have the ability to make a dream real and, to make it real, they have to face some very serious challenges. Very quickly, we separate the dreamers from the real, potential candidates.”
“We are looking for a pair with complimentary strengths – a proper partnership,” he says. “We are also looking for the ability to drive a team. And we are searching for important features, like good business sense, the ability to communicate – that is hugely important – and we want to see great creativity.”
The Restaurant Wednesday 10 September 8.00-9.00pm BBC TWO