'America's Next Great Restaurant' Recap: Stephenie Gets Lost in Las Vegas

Maressa Brown

america's next great restaurantOn the last ep before the season finale of America's Next Great Restaurant, the investors sent the remaining four restaurateurs to Las Vegas, to cross their cuisine with a "cross-section of Americans." The challenge was to hire a couple of employees and serve a couple hundred hungry people at Caesar's Palace. Joey, Jamawn, Stephenie, and Sudhir had a Hangover moment as they rolled into their casino penthouse.

But as they got to working on the food they were going to serve, it was clear that Stephenie was falling behind the others. She acted iffy about using "sustainable lamb," but it was as if she was making up her food ethos as she went along. Curtis told her she had to have the knowledge to back it up. Unfortunately, she didn't know what she was talking about, and it should have been embarrassing.

The investors wanted to see if the competitors could hire the right people to serve their food, figuring if they'd be able to do the same once the restaurant opens across the country. And once the serving gets started, the competitors weren't allowed to help their new employees whatsoever. You know that would be Steve Ells's worst nightmare. He probably came up with that rule!

At the tasting, Penn & Teller even showed up and chowed on Joey's meatballs, giving them a thumbs-up, but the investors weren't happy with them at all. Steve and Curtis loved Sudhir's next gen Indian tacos -- cauliflower and chick pea and curry chicken, served with a mango cardamom milkshake. OMG. Gimme now!

Stephenie's employees couldn't explain her food or her food ethos, possibly because she didn't train them well enough and, like Steve said, her lacking vision. And in the meantime, Joey's meatballs fell flat.

When each of the final four had to answer to Bobby, Steve, Curtis, and Lorena in the investors' suite, we found out Sudhir didn't think he had any weaknesses (which is a bit odd, no?); Jamawn got the most silver coins in Vegas, and the investors liked that he has proven he can learn and grow; Stephenie defended herself by pushing the "potential" of her concept and being able to work very hard, but Steve and Bobby noted that she's scattered and lacking confidence; and Joey argued that his crappy meatballs were just a one-time flub and he has the passion. Bobby admitted that Joey could have done more to come up with a responsible meatball concept -- I'll say!

This was a big decision -- maybe even the toughest so far -- for the judges, because next week is the season finale. The investors even seemed to be sweating it. (You know, to make for good reality TV.)

And wow!!! Despite all her shortcomings this week, I couldn't believe it when they ... sent Stephenie home. The argument was that she just couldn't communicate her concept properly. But it was nice to see the competition turned out to be an eye-opening experience for her. Maybe she won't go back to being a lawyer anyway?

So, now, we've got Soul Food, Brooklyn Meatball Co., and Spice Coast left. Next week we find out which one we can all actually eat at come May 1. All I've got to say is -- go SUDHIR!!

Who do you think is going to win it all next week?


Image via NBC

Read More