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America's Next Great Restaurant Recap: Kids' Meals

Well, I've finally come around to the show; have you? In just a few weeks, the winner of America's Next Great Restaurant will actually be opening three restaurants. This week's challenge involved winning over America's kids. The challenge: creating a kid-friendly entrée and a "promotional item" (toy).

When the kids and their parents arrived, including Bobby Flay's own 14-year-old daughter, Sophie, the Final Five were ready for them -- well, sort of.

The Grill 'Billies hit a bump in the road (heh heh heh) when the

contents of their cart spilled to the floor before service. They were left without the

dipping sauce for their fruit-veggie-meat kebabs. The judges thought the kebabs were way too dry and seemed to

agree with a comment Joey (of Brooklyn Meatball Co.) made earlier, that no parent in their right

mind would serve pointy skewers to their kids. They also didn't know what to make of the promotional item -- the bug toy whose butt lit up when you squeezed it.

Speaking of Joey, what a hit! He practically teared up when Sophie Flay liked his turkey meatball slider. He served it with a side of edamame mixed with pasta (a healthy riff on peas and pasta). Sudhir of Spice Coast wasn't as successful with his Indian burger, cheese fries, and shake (apple cinnamon ice milk). The texture was a bit mushy (his patty was made of spiced potatoes), and he admitted not really thinking about kids as part of his original concept. Jamawn of Soul Daddy also didn't impress the judges. They thought his waffle sandwich (with turkey bacon and chicken breast) served with homemade applesauce and grapes was an unbalanced meal and not healthy enough for kids. The sandwich was overwhelmed by the waffle. They did get a kick out of his corn-bread muffin man -- when you opened it, you heard Jamawn's voice bellow out, "Soul Daddy." Stephanie of Harvest Sol succeeded with her Pete the Pita toy, a friendly looking pita-like pouch that stores crayons, cutouts of vegetables to color in, or other kid treasures. Her dish featured a chicken pita sandwich, sweet potato chips, nectarine pie, and berry smoothie. 

Ultimately, Joey's turkey meatballs were the runaway hit among the kids. Grill 'Billies were sent home largely because their lack of leadership did not sit well with the judges. It seemed as if they didn't know who was in charge, and that sometimes meant that their inconsistent chef was taking the lead. Too bad; we loved the cherry cola pulled pork.

Maybe I'm a kid at heart, but this is the first episode that left me hungry -- maybe because these meals are so close to becoming reality off the TV screen. What do you think? Only four concepts left -- healthy fresh Mediterranean, modern Indian, soul food, or meatballs? Whose is the first you would try out for a quick meal?

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Roseanne Pereira
Contact: Roseanne Pereira

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