Million Dollar Critic On BBC America – Are You Watching?

Million Dollar Critic On BBC America – Are You Watching?

Are you watching BBC America’s new food series, Million Dollar Critic with Giles Coren? Well, I am. I mean, I did. I may watch it again. If I feel like it and there isn’t something better to watch next Thursday at 10pm.

I know that may seem a bit rude and it was. The reason? I just finished watching the second episode of the six part series and can’t get the host’s curt form of expression out of my head. Similar to when I was twelve and came out from the cinema punching the air after seeing the first ‘Rocky’, there is this sudden desire to be a bit of an hard arse (that’s British for Ass) when it comes to giving a review.

Leading up to my first opportunity to see the new series on BBC America, I was able to catch the latest episode of Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares. Giles of course, if you know your English television used to work with the famous hot-headed chef on his show, Gordon Ramsay’s The F-Word. I can never get enough of Gordon and just when you think viewers would have grown cold to his familiar ways by now; networks like FOX renew him for two more seasons. Giles is similar to Ramsey in the sharp tongue department, but trumps the Hell’s Kitchen chef when it comes to the breadth of his vocabulary. He is of course a writer, with columns in The London Times and Huffington Post, along with a novel and a couple non-fiction books under his belt.

Million Dollar Critic premiered on BBC America January 22nd and follows the famous London food critic as he seeks out a restaurant in North America, worthy of his million dollar review. During the six episodes that air on the network every Thursday at 10pm, Giles visits five restaurants chosen by his assistant, eats their food and before the episode’s end, chooses a winner; who gets his “Million Dollar Review”. Which he claims usually increases the establishment’s profits by, a million dollars. This is why it’s called, “Million Dollar Critic”. If you think I’m writing the word “Million” a bit too often, then you’re getting a taste my one pet peeve with the otherwise enjoyable show; Miles and the show’s narrator and his assistant, go a bit overboard on reminding us of the dollar amount that precedes both the shows title and the food critics review. Which in case you missed it, is a million.

On last night’s episode, Giles Coren visited five restaurants located in Charleston, South Carolina. His first visit to the state, he ordered multiple plates at the holistically approached soul food joint, Alluette’s Café, a new upscale restaurant called The Obstinate Daughter, Poogan’s Porch named after a dog, The Lot and the authentic Chinese restaurant, Lee Lee’s Hot Kitchen.

You realize during the hour long show that regardless of whether or not one of the restaurateurs wins Giles’ Million Dollar Review, they’re still getting some amazing PR. It’s not like the 45 year old journalist walks into a random food establishment and unleashes a spontaneous critique. All of the chosen candidates seem to be worthy of at least a decent review. Even though The Obstinate Daughter got dropped first from the list of possible winners early on, I don’t think viewers would go away thinking they should never eat there. “Too much salt” says Coren was the reason, before insuring the food was still good.

Giles is funny, witty and very capable of dropping both a descriptive dig and an uncensored expletive. He is also a firm believer in the value of his own review, which is the whole premise of the show in the first place. Without it, he’s just another guy going about different cities trying out cool places to eat. The fact that most American viewers don’t know how important his review is in the food world, warrants the need for this constant branding.

He is direct, but not mean. Handsome and looks good in a suit even while sweating it out down South. The show gives viewers a bit of history on the chosen location and Coren keeps things diverse, by not limiting his reviews for the upscale types alone. There are no tribal councils or phoned in votes from viewers at home either. Each respective candidate is seen pulling up the Huffington Post on their laptops and iPads the next morning, to see who he chose to write about.

If like me, you’re already a fan of one self-obsessed British personality, you may find it hard at first to accept the newcomer. It’s taken just one episode to have me looking forward to the next and that’s a good sign. The fact that it follows Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares, means that more viewers will have a chance to spot it and a pleasant reminder for me in case I forget. BBC America continues to give reason to tune in and Million Dollar Critic is a good addition to my already long list of favorite food related shows.

The six-part hour-long culinary journey, Million Dollar Critic, premieres Thursday, January 22, 10:00pm ET through February 26th. It follows the final episodes of the original Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares on BBC AMERICA.

By: Wayne Andres

Photo: ©BBC America, Giles Coren – © Tim Leyes

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Wayne Andres

Creator, Editor In Chief at - "I went on a Twitter rant once; no one cared - Celebrities have all the fun".

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