Temecula to be featured in brand new Food Network’s ‘Restaurant Express’
Friday, November 1st, 2013
Issue 44, Volume 17.
Each week the program challenges chefs vying for a spot on Chef Robert Irvine’s team at his flagship restaurant inside the The M Resort, Spa and Casino in Las Vegas.
The chefs traveled to Temecula for the second episode of the show and were tasked with the challenge of coming up with a unique and original idea for a restaurant that would mesh well with Temecula’s downtown area.
Mayor Mike Naggar stood alongside Irvine as chefs tried to pitch their ideas for restaurants that they thought would exemplify the town’s culture.
The chef, in turn, left it up to Naggar to decide which ideas were most fitting for the town.
Naggar said he was looking for contestants to meet certain criteria when developing the concept for a Temecula restaurant.
He said that he was looking for contestants to come up with an idea that would be not only be attractive to area residents, but would also be interesting to the many tourists who visit the city. The mayor also said he wanted restaurants to have a price point that was fair for the many young individuals and families that live in the area.
"There had to be a price point that was affordable," Naggar said. "Taking into account tourism but also taking into account that Temecula is a city of families, so price point was very important."
One of the final points the mayor made about the concept for a "Temecula-fit" restaurant was that it had to be both unique and original. He said it was important that contestants make an effort not to duplicate some of the already standing culinary establishments the town has.
"One of the contestants came up and said, ‘Well, I think I’d like to do a tapas restaurant witha wine bar.’ And my response to him was, ‘We have three of those in Old Town; what makes yours different?’" he said.
Naggar said he enjoyed working with Irvine throughout the filming of the show because the chef, known for such programming as "Restaurant: Impossible" and "Worst Cooks in America" was actually very humble and down to earth.
"I’m not a star-struck individual; I don’t go gaga over people who are in the media, or who are in movies or TV shows," he said. "I will tell you this: having met him and interacted with him, he is the nicest man. He was very easy to work with and very accommodating."
The filming took place after members of the Food Network contacted the City of Temecula to facilitate an episode of the TV show.
Christine Damko, the economic analyst for the City of Temecula, said the Food Network contacted the city’s offices about possibly taping a show during their scouting process in early June. Damko then helped assemble a group of individuals who set about bringing members of the Food Network team on a tour of the downtown area and what it had to offer.
The tour was a success, the network officials loved the idea, and filming began in the early part of the next month, according to Damko.
The economic analyst said she was surprised and excited by the filming process because it required lots of technology and required that a large number of individuals be present.
"They bring a village with them to film," she said. "And it’s just amazing to see – It’s not one or two cameras, it’s 45 people and seven or eight cameras at least. And it’s all digital nowadays, so the director is not standing behind a camera but is in a separate trailer."
Damko said the experience was great because everyone at Food Network was kind and skilled.
"Everyone at Food Network was very professional and they’re definitely top-notch," she said.
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