A new chef and a well-designed food truck weren't enough to overcome a bad plate of brisket for Sandy Digiovanni last night on America's Next Great Restaurant.
Despite high praise for Sinners and Saints -- an innovative concept that offered diners either a healthy or a decadent version of a dish -- Digiovanni had chef/host Bobby Flay inform her that the panel would "not be investing in her restaurant."
This episode was the food truck challenge, in which the seven entrepreneurs still on the show had to design (business test No. 1) and run a food truck for a day hoping to turn a profit (business test No. 2).
The most pressing issue of the design stage came from Joey, who tells America that it is "time to let saucy balls go," referring to the Saturday Night Live-ready name for his meatball restaurant.
"I think it's obvious," Flay says.
"I was thinking spaghetti and meatballs," Joey says.
There is a long pause. "Brooklyn ... Meatballs," Curtis Stone suggests.
Joey looks at him blankly. This conversation could not be more awkward.
"Brooklyn Meatball Club, Brooklyn Meatball Company?" Flay says.
"I love it. Brooklyn Meatball Company," Joey says.
Digiovanni has a new chef, Lance, who is moving a mile a minute and appears to be a close talker. The episode has spent a lot of early camera time with Digiovanni, which is never a good sign.
"Lance has a little too much energy for me," Digiovanni says. "I have no idea how to rodeo him in."
They settle on a menu of barbecued brisket and bacon macaroni and cheese to be served in their food truck. Lance talks about cooking the pasta in bacon fat. That is some new kind of chefery.
The Food Truck Challenge
Four trucks are sent to Hollywood Boulevard. Three trucks go to Sunset Boulevard. Not surprisingly, there's less foot traffic on Sunset. Surprisingly, Chipotle founder Steve Ells and Flay show up in matching fedoras. Today will be a jaunty outing in downtown Los Angeles.
The Grill Billies get flying colors for their grilled chicken sandwich and corn and Spice Coast's Sudhir makes some slamming Indian tacos. Joey gets dinged for a tacky truck, putting a sample of his food out on the counter and giving takeaway packets of red pepper. Jamawn's Soul Daddy truck design is too much about the music of Detroit, and the judges can't believe he used canned green beans. Stephenie of Harvest Sol, who is offering healthy, Mediterranean-inspired food, received a lecture on using canned chickpeas. Digiovanni's food truck is the last to be judged.
It doesn't start well after Stone finds a piece of fat in his salad.
"This is the worst mac and cheese I've ever had," Stone says.
Back at the restaurant row, we learn that none of the contestants made a profit. Joey is invited to come into the investor's suite, which is approximately seven steps in front of restaurant row. Joey is "holding [his company] back." Stephenie, who had the lowest sales, tells the judges that "her concept doesn't lend itself to food trucks."
Digiovanni admits that she is "tired of being raked over the coals" and that chef Lance "belongs on the Deadliest Catch." She's ultimately eliminated because the judges haven't seen what they believe to be the proper execution of her vision.
"It knocked the wind out of my sails. I'm usually the captain of my ship. I wasn't this time. I was a passenger on the Titanic," Digiovanni says.
There are six contestants and five concepts remaining. America's Next Great Restaurant airs at 7 p.m. Sundays on NBC.