Sitting in the investors' suite, I would ask myself what I needed to find in these contestants in order to invest in their concept. As a chef and restaurateur, I know what it takes and what I'm looking for in the winning contestant. I throw myself completely into every project I take on, and the winner of this competition has to do the same. They have to "own" their idea, believe in it all the way, and I really need to see their passion.
At first, listening to these pitches, I would ask myself, "Is this for real?" There wasn't one contestant that was bringing the passion I was looking for, their concepts wouldn't make any sense, and I was starting to worry...
As the day went on I began to hear really great ideas and see some of the fire and drive I was looking for.
As an investor, I also had to think about the business aspect of the competition. The concept I was looking for had to, let's face it, make money. To have a good chance of being successful, the concept had to be appealing and accessible to everyone, have the right price point, and a system that worked.
As a chef, besides bringing the passion and a potentially profitable business idea, most importantly, I knew the food had to be good. It had to be a great menu with fresh ingredients. Simply, it just had to be good food.
I knew that most of the contestants had no culinary background whatsoever, so I wasn't expecting too much in terms of the food that first day. But there were definitely some things that I tasted that I wouldn't even consider food. And then there were a few dishes that really caught my attention as a great starting point for a great menu. Game on!
Next week... quantity AND quality, never give up one for the other.