So, you want to open your first restaurant...

It's been your dream for years, and now you plan to make it a reality: your first restaurant. Now what do you do?

Fans of the Food Network may remember David Adjey from his appearance on a 2008 episode of “Iron Chef America” when he competed against Iron Chef Michael Symon, resulting in a rare tie between the two chefs. He is also known in Canada for his appearances in “Restaurant Makeover”.

David Adjey’s Restaurant 101, his newest foray in food television, will be unveiled in Spring 2009.

If you’re planning to open your first restaurant in the next couple months, Mr. Adjey may hold the key to your success! In this new series, Mr. Adjey will provide coaching to first-time restaurant owners, providing them with the tools to open and run a successful business.

Red Apple Entertainment, the production company, is currently holding auditions for this one-hour series. If you are selected, you must be willing to “share every aspect of your business with David on camera”, including your business plan, your budget, and your menu.

Florida Foodies Restaurant & Travel Magazine (FFRTM) recently had the opportunity to interview Heidi Burbela, the Associate Producer of the new television series.

FFRTM: Tell us a bit about David Adjey. What makes him qualified to help business owners develop a new restaurant?

BURBELA: David Adjey has been in the restaurant business all his life. His job credits include: washing dishes in a Scarborough Diner, Executive Chef at New York City’s Rhiga Royal Hotel, Personal Chef to Dan Akroyd, and Chef Proprietor of Toronto’s Nectar Restaurant. Two years ago, he made a career change and became a restaurant consultant. Currently, he travels the continent helping aspiring restaurateurs create new businesses that will be profitable over the long haul.

David is passionate about the restaurant business. When he is on the job as a restaurant consultant, he will stay as long as he thinks it’s necessary and do whatever it takes to try and help newbie restaurateurs form a successful business. David’s expertise encompasses all aspects of the restaurant business, from devising a proper business plan to creating and costing out menus, hiring and training front and back of house staff, and instituting payroll systems.

With the observation of an artist, Adjey views everything as a sum of its parts… a good painting as a collection of expertly-placed pigments; a car as a pile of parts ingeniously crafted to work together and take us places; a book as a jumble of alphabet letters carefully untangled and chosen to inform or inspire. For Adjey, the creation of a new restaurant is to collect a series of elements—design, cuisine, customer service and location—and to combine and transform the parts into an always greater, delicious new sum.

FFRTM: Some people will immediately associate the idea for the show with Gordon Ramsey, and that might scare them off. Why is the show different…or is it?

BURBELA: Dave gives first-timers a shot at making their dreams come true, at changing their lives by showing them the greatness, rewards and challenges a successful life in his beloved business entails. At heart, he is an idealist.

Ramsay is essentially a human defibrillator…someone who is brought in to shock experienced but complacent restaurant owners back to life. He is by nature a bully, giving people a last chance to rediscover their lost mojo.

Dave teaches his newbies by revealing himself—aspects of his life, his experience and character. By doing this he gives his clients a context to understand what they’re up against. Dave connects.

Ramsey’s life today and even his backstory are inferred but not revealed. He is a force of nature. He is always right. But “Nightmares” isn’t about revealing how he became the man he is, or the chef he is. It is about confrontation. He derives his power from his certainty and the distance he keeps. Do what he says. Now. Or else.

Dave is a real person. Fully formed but flawed. So are the people he tries to help. Dave doesn’t necessarily get through to them—although he usually does. He doesn’t know everything. This show is closer to real life. He knows that there is always an element of trial and error when it comes to communicating with stressed out people. Dave is often forced to trust his instincts, but his instincts are very well tuned. Over the course of the series, he reveals the layers and depth behind himself and the world he loves—and most important finds a way to share that love with the people whose dreams he’s trying to help come true.

Restaurant 101 is life affirming.

FFRTM: How long will David work with the restaurateur? What can they expect?

BURBELA: This depends on what is required and the situation the first time restaurateurs are in. Sometime he will spend two weeks at the restaurant, while other times he may consult with them 2 days every couple of weeks for the course of 3 months.

FFRTM: What exactly are YOU looking for when considering a restaurateur for inclusion in this series?

BURBELA: We’re looking for people that are passionate about what they are doing and who can really use the help from a professional.

FFRTM: How many episodes are planned? Is it just one episode in Florida, or possibly more?

BURBELA: There are 13 episodes that are being shot all over North America. We would love to do several episodes in Florida as it is the only sunshine state!

FFRTM: When will you be conducting interviews?

BURBELA: First, I would like them to email our casting team at with some details about their restaurant. They will then be phoned by our casting team to talk more in detail about the plans to open. If they meet the criteria we will send a production team to their particular location and interview/audition them. If they are approved we will begin filming with them.

FFRTM: Any idea when the show will go into production, in particular, in Florida?

BURBELA: It is in production now. We are currently travelling throughout the US and Canada to film auditions.

FFRTM: When would it be telecast...i.e., how many months after production?

BURBLEA: This is up to the network.

FFRTM: Is there any payment involved? (Besides, of course, the free PR!)

BURBELA: No payment, but David usually charges within the thousands for his services.

FFRTM: How is this show different from “Restaurant Makeover”?

BURBELA: This is not a renovation show. It is about the people who are going to be first time restaurant owners. It is about their dream of being restaurant owners.

FFRTM: From what I’ve read about David, he’s a busy man. Why does he want to do a show like this?

BURBELA: David knows what it takes to run and operate a business and now he wants to share his knowledge and experience with others.

FFRTM: I’ve read that the new show will be on the Food Network. Is this correct?

BURBELA: It will air initially on the Food Network Canada and then it will be aired on various other networks throughout the US and Canada.

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