TRAVERSE CITY — Officials aren’t talking about rumors that a network TV show may be in the works in Traverse City, following casting announcements seeking aspiring restauranteurs within 100 miles of the city.
A casting company for “Food Court Wars,” a Food Network show that pits teams of would-be food entrepreneurs against one another as they battle to win their own mall food court restaurant, posted casting calls for the show nationwide on Craigslist beginning in late summer. A more specific audition notice was posted on the mobile app Audition Rush Sept. 17:
“Do you have an idea for amazing, unique, or original cuisine for a food court restaurant? Or maybe you run an existing restaurant, and have always wanted to expand into a food court location?
“Think your idea has what it takes to be the most profitable, and beat out the competition?
“If so, we want to hear from you!”
The notice also specified it was looking for teams in Chula Vista, Calif., Hickory, N.C.; Jonesboro, Ark.; Kelso, Wash.; Lewisville, Texas; Newark, Calif.; Plano, Texas; Shreveport, La.; Sierra Vista, Ariz.; West Dundee, Ill. and Zanesville, Ohio.
Food Court Wars premiered in spring 2013 with noted chef Gordon Ramsey as executive producer. It features a different U.S. city each episode.
In each location, two teams — each made up of friends, family, couples or co-workers — open eateries at a local food court mall that offer fresh, region-specific menus like empanadas or shrimp and grits.
Through a set of challenges, the two-person teams test their concept, menu offerings and marketability, and run their outlet for a full day, feeding hungry shoppers. The team whose restaurant makes the most profit wins the restaurant space rent-free for a year — a prize worth up to $100,000.
Host Tyler Florence, a longtime chef and restaurant owner, helps the teams through their challenges, offering his advice on how to make their concept a success.