NBC reality series cooks up serious competition

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - NBC has ordered an ambitious culinary competition series with a prize that is among the biggest in reality show history.

The network has green-lighted a program from “Top Chef” production company Magical Elves in which the grand prize winner will launch his or her own chain of restaurants. The show’s working title is “United Plates of America.”

A group of would-be restaurateurs will compete to impress a panel of wealthy investors from the cooking and business world. Challenges will test competitors’ savvy on such subjects as their restaurant’s concept, menu and marketability and their ability to manage staff.

The show’s winner will receive a restaurant chain that opens in four locations in various U.S. cities on the night of the show’s season finale.

Panelists and the show’s premiere date will be announced later.

Producers expect the investors to add a unique component to the show because it’s their money that will fund the chain. “It’s a culinary competition that anybody can take part in,” executive producer Dan Cutforth said. “All you need is a great idea for a restaurant.”