NBC’s food competition came to a close last night with a winner being hand-picked by the group of professional food masters who also happen to be putting-in their own money to get the franchise of three restaurants up and going. All three opened today!
The investors at the end of this eight-week journey are Bobby Flay, Curtis Stone, Steve Ells, and Lorena Garcia. Out of a meatball specialty restaurant and an Indian cuisine idea the one that stood out and won them over was a soul food entrepreneur, Jamawn Woods with his restaurant named “Soul Daddy”.
Watch our video interview with Woods at “Soul Daddy” here:
We talked to Woods this morning via a phone conference call with new partner, Lorena Garcia. Woods stated that the most challenging part about creating a soul food menu as well as making it healthy was doing his research and making the chicken healthy. He said that he replaced fried chicken with baked chicken. Although this contradicts traditional soul food, he said that “if baked chicken is tasty enough, you won’t miss fried chicken”.
For now, there are no variations in the menu across the three cities. However, Woods is willing to make a few adjustments here and there if need-be according to the needs of the customers. “It might be a month or two down the road where we have a city that’s demanding fried chicken. We’re open and willing to change it up” said Woods.
Garcia stated that for her, the main ingredient that the winner of “America’s Next Restaurant” had to posses was passion and commitment. “They have to be passionate about the idea. I was looking for the passion and the commitment of the contestant. And Jamawn showed that throughout the competition. And that’s something that won me over.”
Garcia was also influenced by Woods’ menu, “When he was able to take his menu and present it in a healthier way and in a way that anybody can eat different times a day, different times a week, it was, for me, a winning formula. So he pretty much captured what I was looking for in a winner” said Garcia.
Woods also stated that he knew that he had a real chance of winning the competition for the restaurants when he made the gumbo at the Universal City Walk challenge.
In his newly hard-earned restaurant venture, Woods said that the reward also comes with advice from the food experts whenever he needs it.
“Soul Food” is now open at Hollywood & Highland in Hollywood, Ca, Mall of America in Bloomington Minneapolis, South Street Seaport in New York City.
If you missed the finale to “America’s Next Great Restaurant” on the West Coast due to Bin Laden news coverage, CNBC will be re-broadcasting the finale episode this Friday, May 6th at 6pm and 10pm. Check your local listings.