NBC’s – America’s Next Great Restaurant | Our Audition

NBC’s America’s Next Great Restaurant

On March 19th my friend Patricia and I lined up outside Rockafeller Center to audition for a new television show.  We pitched two concepts in front of the Magical Elves production team.  They were in town from Los Angeles to find talent for NBC’s America’s Next Great Restaurant. Magical Elves were also the production company for Project Runway and Top Chef.  So, Patricia and I felt this was a good opportunity to combine our passions for the restaurant and hospitality industry and go for it!

I arrived at 7 am at the NBC Experience Store in Rockefeller Center. It was here the auditions would start at 9 am.  I was amazed to see I would be the  3rd person in line right behind the “Naked Cowboy.”

As I talked with the cowboy and the only other person in line I waited for Patricia to arrive. While waiting for Patricia I let a few people go ahead of me which pushed me back to 5th inline, still not bad.  This way if the first few people were called in I would still not be auditioning without my other half for the show.

As the line began to grow and grow out of nowhere chef Bobby Flay appeared.  He waved and talked with some of the people in the front of the line.  He would be the star headlining the show.  I actually got to meet, take a picture, and quickly pitch my concept to Bobby while I was standing in line. He asked me what my restaurant idea was.  So, I pitched it out as thoroughly as I could while the live NBC camera that was following him around and now filming us talk.  Very cool!



Bobby Flay liked the concept and it was nice to hear that from him.

Franco Lania and Bobby Flay outside the NBC building

Meeting Bobby Flay outside the NBC building in Rockafeller Center, New York City.


  Shortly after this I saw Patricia walking over and told her how I was just talking to Bobby Flay and it was broadcasted live on television.  She was overjoyed and hoped it was a sign of good luck.

Literally, right after telling her all this, the line began to move and the doors to the NBC Experience store opened up.  The first group was let in! As Patricia and I entered the audition area we felt confident. 

We knew our concept inside and out and we were ready to finally pitch it.

After pitching their concept auditioners either proceed to the next round or were let go. Thankfully we were chosen to proceed.  The production staff told to walk over to the bus across from Rockefeller Center that had America’s Next Great Restaurant written on it to do a more in-depth pitch in front of another camera crew.

Apparently, in this bus were the decision-makers and Bobby Flay was one of them.  There was a line with about 12 people in front of us. It took about an hour until it was our turn. Once on the bus, you quickly realize that it’s set up like a studio. The auditioners sit toward the back with strong lights facing them and the crew is in front explaining how all is going to work once the cameras are on.  Next thing you know it’s light, camera, action! Once again we are pitching our idea. But, this time we are being asked more questions about our restaurant idea.

We were told we did a great job and we could proceed to the third hurdle and come back at 5 pm.  It was only 2:30 in the afternoon as we walked off the bus so we had plenty of time to regroup.

Patricia and I walked to the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park to have lunch. Here we went over every inch of what we were going to say when we returned. As we walked back Patricia had the great idea of getting her makeup done at Macy’s to freshen up for the camera.  We finally made our way back to Rockafeller Center to be told “sorry we can’t shoot you guys right now, we’re running behind.”  They told us to come back in about an hour.  So, now we walked across to Dean and Deluca to have a coffee and kill some time.  Eventually, we were called and went back on the bus and pitched our concept again for the third time.

It was about 7 pm once we were all finished.  Once again we were told we did a nice job. However, we were asked to now make a personal 5 minute or less video of ourselves, explaining our concept and showing us in our home environments.  We had three days to create this video and get it to Magical Elves. Within two days we created the video and sent it in!

About a week later I was contacted by email from Magical Elves, asking for me to send in a 100-word biography and one from Patricia. We took this as another good sign and sent in their request within the hour. A return email saying thank you, good luck and we will be in touch came back. Now, it’s fingers crossed! 

Click here to see a post about another show Patrica and I auditioned for called Culinary Dynamic Duos.