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By: | Posted: 06/29/2011
EDITOR'S UPDATE: Just hours after Andrew wrote this blog post, the last remaining Soul Daddy at MOA announced it had closed.
Eater reports last week that two of its three locations (New York and Los Angeles) closed after being open for only a month. The chain was created by America’s Next Great Restaurant winner Jamawn Woods, get this, AS THE PRIZE FOR WINNING A REALITY SHOW. . . it was doomed from the start.
The show led us to think that the show’s celebrity judges, including Chipotle founder Steve Ells (Hello, this is the INS), Lorena Garcia (whom I had never heard of until I met her while she was promoting the show in Miami), Curtis Stone (toothsome and annoyingly everywhere chef without stove), and Bobby Flay (talented genius/owner/operator/author/chef ).
The one remaining Soul Daddy sits on the third floor of the Mall of America in Bloomington. I went; it’s boring and the food’s nothing to crow about. Its Soul-less Daddy. I think the judges need to come out here and help this poor guy out. He’s a smart hardworking family man from Detroit who won a prize on a reality show, and it was a Faustian bargain. He didn’t pick his location, and I think all the talk of the support from the judges has withered on the vine. I hear nothing about a second season for ANGR so I assume this fellow is simply stuck with a dying restaurant. Sad. Even sadder is the fact that it was highly publicized that the winner of the show would get the "prize" of a three-unit restaurant chain. In fact all the show materials say that Mr. Woods (or other winner) would receive "an extraordinary prize" of "three restaurants in three cities."
What happened? And do you know of anyone who likes this place? I know Flay well enough to tell you he never saw this coming. He is a great dude, a standup guy, and a shrewd businessman who never would have done this show if he knew it would turn out this way. I don’t mean to impugn the other judges when I say that, it’s just that I don’t know them. Now, on the other hand, the producers of ANGR have some explaining to do.
I just came back from New Orleans, and wow, is that city ever back on its feet. Not everywhere, mind you, and many neighborhoods got screwed and continue to, but the vibe is sweet again in the Crescent City. From a late night at Vaughan’s to meals at Cochon, Cochon Butcher, August, Herbsainte, Bayona, Mothers, Mahony’s, Parkway, Antoines, Willie Maes Scotch House, Dooky Chase, and more, I was reminded of the central fact about ‘Nawlins: It’s the only city in the world you can taste when someone says its name. Thanks especially to the folks in Bayou Pigeon at Rick’s place and to all of Don’s family in Rayne, you know who you are and you put on an amazing bunch of meals and adventures for us. Thank you.
And you all will see it in January when Bizarre Foods New Orleans premieres.
Andrew Zimmern is a columnist for Mpls.St.Paul Magazine and the host of Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern.See bio
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