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Tom Colicchio: 'Best New Restaurant' Breaks Ground

From Through The Wire: ‘Best New Restaurant’ Gets Into the Weeds Of the Culinary Life

There are a lot of cooking shows on TV, and a lot of restaurant shows. So what will draw viewers to Bravo’s new competition show Best New Restaurant, Through The Wire asked host, judge and executive producer Tom Colicchio, the accomplished restaurateur and Top Chef star.

“I don’t think there’s been a show that’s really given the viewer a good idea of what happens in a restaurant,” famed for Gramercy Tavern, Craft and other fine dining spots, said before a promotional event on Jan. 13 at his Riverpark in New York, which also featured a fun chat between Colicchio and New York magazine food critic Adam Platt (pictured).

Top Chef showed viewers how a chef creates, he said. Top Chef ’s “Restaurant Wars” episodes are “sort of a compressed version of opening night.” Rocco DiSpirito’s The Restaurant was more of a reality show.

“This is really nuts and bolts,” Colicchio said. “You bring 30 people into a restaurant and turn the camera on, you’ll see some stuff that I think people are going to really be interested in.”

Teams from 16 restaurants from across the country vie against each other two at a time. The last one standing gets an editorial feature in Bon Appetit, $100,000 and other goodies. It’s modeled on the U.K’s Ramsay’s Best Restaurant, and Gordon Ramsay also executive produces.

Many people fantasize about owning a restaurant, and think the real work in being a chef is creating the dish, Colicchio said. “You can go and buy The French Laundry Cookbook and you can stay home and perfect those dishes. Good luck putting that into a restaurant kitchen and expediting that food every single night for 200 people a night, or whatever it is, and doing it consistently.”

Viewers see the turmoil in the kitchen and the front of house, and how real diners respond. How does marketing a new show compare with marketing a new restaurant? “They have a bigger budget than a restaurant does!” was Colicchio’s first thought. Good point.

Best New Restaurant premieres Wednesday, Jan. 21, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo.

— Kent Gibbons

Kent has been a journalist, writer and editor at Multichannel News since 1994 and with Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He is a good point of contact for anything editorial at the publications and for Nexttv.com. Before joining Multichannel News he had been a newspaper reporter with publications including The Washington Times, The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal and North County News.