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Bobby Flay on Healthy Restaurants and America's Next Great Restaurant
As the first season of America's Next Great Restaurant closes, Bobby Flay talks about the role of healthy food in restaurants.
Just a few days away from the season finale of America's Next Great Retaurant, we spoke with Chef, and investor, Bobby Flay about the role "healthy" plays in American restaurants. Co-investor Steve Ells, founder of Chipotle, has been able to make healthful, sustainable ingredients the centerpiece of food people can't get enough of from coast to coast. So why can't everyone else make it happen? Flay digresses that it's the cost associated with this practice that is the biggest hurdle for any restaurant owner to cross. "If we could all source things 10 minutes outside of our houses the world would be a better place," he says. He also says it's certainly worth the try. "It's clear across the board people want to eat better food... and they're willing to pay for it."
We do want better food, but Flay says it's not always just about fewer calories. People are after better quality - be that flavor or ingredients. So how is that influencing the investors' decisions on America's Next Great Restaurant? "It plays an important role," says Flay. He admits it's an important factor to all of them, something "Ells talks about all the time," and that it's frequently "top of mind." He talks about how the Indian food concept, Spice Coast, is the easiest to make healthier. The meatball concept is "a more difficult chore" because of the fat-laden ingredients inherent to a meatball.
And the third concept, Soul Daddy, is actually making an effort to reduce the calories in these traditionally high calorie Southern foods. Flay says that we have to find the happy medium in healthy-meets-flavorful cooking, something he applies to his restaurants and advises for home cooks. It's not about "drawing all the calories out," calling that tactic a mistake; instead, take a piece of something out, and make it wholly better. As for the heavy decision weighing down on Flay and fellow investors Ells, Curtis Stone and Lorena Garcia, it's something they spend "hours on top of hours on top of hours debating." Having never invested in a restaurant before (other than his own) Flay is looking for a great concept that resonates with the American people, a person who has passion and work ethic. Also, he's looking for a sense of energy from the restaurant itself, saying it's "not just a meal but an event" that people are looking for. The winner of NBC's popular new reality show will open three restaurants on Monday, following the May 1 finale, something unheard of in the volatile restaurant business. Flay clarified that the winner will also receive a substantial percentage of ownership, as well as a salary. "It's a life-changing prize," he says.Flag this Video