Why Reality Restaurant Shows are Terrible

It all started when Rocco Despirito had his show called “The Restaurant.” That show alone did a huge disservice to the industry but it had ratings and now reality restaurant TV is the rage. Most any night you can find some sort of restaurant reality show on TV. Whether it be Bar Rescue on Spike or the litany of shows that the Food Network broadcasts featuring Robert Irvine or celebrity chefs like him, every night you can entertain yourself by watching these guys transform restaurants from failures to success in only 60 minutes. Here is my problem with the format. First, it isn’t realistic. As someone who just opened a restaurant, I know that the $10K that Restaurant Impossible spends is almost laughable. I’m sure they might only spend $10K on supplies, but how about the labor and the design expense? Materials are the cheap part of that equation. They couldn’t do the tables let alone everything else they do in these place for that little money. I guess it could be possible if you had the time and the expertise to do all the work yourself, but if you have all that talent maybe you should open a remodeling company on not a restaurant.

What really bugs me is how they demean these poor owners. In most cases the owners of these restaurants are in such a bad place that they are willing to be made a fool of on national TV in hopes that rescuing their restaurant will save them from going out of business and likely losing their homes or any other money they might have invested. And what do they get? They get yelled at and ridiculed by a host who is there to theoretically help them. It just isn’t necessary. I know these people might be making every mistake in the book, but the way they are treated is just unacceptable. Before opening Lucha I loved these shows, now I feel so bad for the owners that I can’t even watch them. These people are at their breaking point and now some juiced up chef comes and yells at them. How no owner has yet to punch a host is beyond me.

All that said, Bobby Flay had a show called “Three Days to Open” where instead of yelling at the owners he actually took the time to get in the kitchen (or the office) and work with him. Cheers to Bobby for that one. The rest of them should get back to cooking or maybe just tone down the insults and instead meet these people where they are, show them tactfully how to solve their problems, and then go off to another cookbook signing.

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