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What We Expect From America’s Next Great Restaurant

Lately there’s been a lot of buzz about the new show America’s Next Great Restaurant, and if there’s anything I’ve learned about the food industry in my years working as a fitness trainer and weight-loss coach, it’s that the majority of the food industry isn’t in business to get people healthy. They want to turn food into a crave-worthy experience and make money.

Now, I have no insider knowledge on what restaurant concepts will be pitched on this reality television series that premieres on Sunday, March 6 at 8/7 PM central, but based off of my research on what some of the country’s most successful food chains — like McDonald’s, Subway and Pizza Hut — serve, it may not have our waistlines in mind.

Restaurants are notorious for offering foods in enormous portions that are high in sugar, salt and fat.  Not only do we find these foods delicious, but these foods actually have physically addictive properties for some. So it’s no wonder that restaurant entrepreneurs keep looking to create the next worst-for-you burger or sandwich. They want you to come back for more!

However, the best thing going for America’s Next Great Restaurant is that there will be some fresh ideas! The show will feature 21 people from every walk of life as they vie for the chance to see their original concept come to life with a restaurant chain in Hollywood, Minneapolis and New York City. Because these people are from across the country, I’m hoping they’ll mix the restaurant-chain scene up a bit. Here’s my best guess at what we can expect on the show:

What We Expect to See on America’s Next Great Restaurant

1. Higher-quality ingredients. Americans are becoming more aware of where their food comes from and are asking for more upscale ingredients, so expect to see some. Take Wendy’s new Natural-Cut Fries with Sea Salt for example. With more sodium and calories in a serving, they’re not one bit healthier than the previous version, but they sound better don’t they? Hopefully the winning concept on the show won’t just be smart marketing but rather actual healthy high-quality ingredients.

2. More ethnic food offerings. Remember about 10 years ago when not every town had a handful of sushi restaurants? Now more than ever American food is a true melting pot. As the country has diversified, I’d expect to see offerings of all kinds of cuisine from Mexican to Brazilian to Filipino and everything in between. The good news here is that at as long as the menu offerings don’t become too Americanized with cheese and butter, there may be some healthy options!

3. More prominent calorie displays. Now that chain restaurants in New York City have to post nutritional facts on their menus and other cities are considering doing the same, I’d guess that at least a couple of restaurant concepts will promote themselves as a healthy choice with lower-calorie options.

4. Nutritional transparency. Just like Chipotle has bucked the system by making unprocessed and sustainably raised food cool, I would expect that many restaurant concepts will feature a similar type dedication to eco-friendly practices and use that as a major selling point.

While I’m sure there will still be quite a few bad-for-you concepts, I’m really hoping that someone steps up to the plate with a delicious and healthy idea that can hang with the fast-food big boys!

March 4th, 2011

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