Zodiak USA is hoping that lightning can strike twice, bringing to the U.S. a restaurant reality format that has become a breakout hit on Holland’s RTL4, the same network that launched The Voice. Zodiak will pitch the format, Restaurant Race, to U.S. broadcast networks this week. I hear two of them, ABC and NBC, are on the hunt for a culinary series after striking out with such recent entries as Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and America’s Next Great Restaurant, respectively. In the original Dutch version, which will be tweaked for U.S. audiences, Restaurant Race centers on two struggling restaurants that compete against one another. Helped by a mentor, they have 72 hours and $10,000 to reboot their business by themselves. The restaurant that performs the best in the eyes of the critic will pocket a big cash prize for further improvements. The format bears some similarities to the original Australian series The Chopping Block, though not the short-lived NBC version. NBC has been particularly consistent in its efforts to find a restaurant-based reality franchise with the 2003 Mark Burnett/Ben Silverman series The Restaurant, The Chopping Block and, most recently, America’s Next Great Restaurant. The only successful effort in the space on U.S. broadcast TV so far is Fox’s Kitchen Nightmares starring Gordon Ramsay.
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