Now here’s a new foodie show to get seriously excited about. TNT’s On the Menu, debuting Friday, Oct. 3 at 8pm ET/PT, is giving viewers the opportunity to sample winning dishes the day after each episode airs. I’ll use just about any excuse to eat out, so if this series turns out to be good, bad or indifferent, I’m still OK with it — as I’m in for testing these dishes, as it’s a night free of cooking for me and an opportunity to sample some hopefully amazing dishes from home chefs across the country.
As said, this is the first cooking competition show that gives viewers the chance to actually taste the winning dish after every episode! Each episode opens with four cooks who face a series of elimination challenges in order to make it to the final round. First up, they must demonstrate their understanding of that week’s featured restaurant, which in the premiere episode (Friday, Oct. 3) is Chili’s. In the second round, the three remaining cooks must each create their own new dish for the restaurant and serve it to a room full of hungry diners and “superfans” of Chili’s, whose votes will determine who moves on to the final round. After refining and perfecting their dishes based on the comments they receive from the diners in Round 2, the last two cooks serve their creations to host Ty Pennington, celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse (who has been mentoring them along the way) and representatives from the featured restaurant, in whose hands the final decision rests. The winning contestant’s dish will then appear on the restaurant’s menu the very next day.
When we asked the always-upbeat Ty Pennington if he had any difficulties in dishing out criticism after tasting some of the meals, he laughed saying, “No, I love delivering a little funny criticism — it’s my favorite part because I want these cooks to do the best they can. But in the end it doesn’t matter what I think because it’s the people in the restaurant that have the most brutal and honest reactions to the dishes and ultimately sway the decision of which dish ends up on the menu.”
Here’s the schedule and restaurants featured for the upcoming episodes of On the Menu.
Chili’s – Friday, Oct. 3, at 8 p.m. (ET/PT)
Denny’s – Friday, Oct. 10, at 8 p.m. (ET/PT)
California Pizza Kitchen – Friday, Oct. 17, at 8 p.m. (ET/PT)
Planet Hollywood – Friday, Oct. 24, at 8 p.m. (ET/PT)
Emeril’s Restaurant – Friday, Oct. 31, at 8 p.m. (ET/PT)
The Cheesecake Factory – Friday, Nov. 7, at 8 p.m. (ET/PT)
Cabo Wabo/Sammy’s Beach Bar & Grill – Friday, Nov. 14, at 8 p.m. (ET/PT)
Outback Steakhouse – Friday, Nov. 21, at 8 p.m. (ET/PT)
Buca di Beppo – Friday, Nov. 28, at 8 p.m. (ET/PT)
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit – Friday, Dec. 5, at 8 p.m. (ET/PT)