December 16, 2014

Britain’s Most Powerful Food Critic Crosses the Pond for BBC AMERICA’s Million Dollar Critic, Premiering January 22

How Far Would You Go for a Review Worth a Million Dollars?

New York, NY BBC AMERICA’s new restaurant series, Million Dollar Critic, introduces Giles Coren (Gordon Ramsay’s The F-Word) the bitingly funny and controversial restaurant critic of The London Times to North America.  It’s said that a positive review from the vigorous writer is worth a million dollars and that his words can change the fates and fortunes of the restaurants he visits. With help from his researcher Julia Pileggi, in each episode the host samples meals from five worthy restaurants and thrusts one lucky winner into the limelight by giving them his million dollar review. The six-part hour-long culinary journey, Million Dollar Critic, premieres Thursday, January 22, 10:00pm ET following the final episodes of the original Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares on BBC AMERICA.

Giles Coren has eaten at the world’s finest restaurants, but nothing excites him more than discovering a hidden gem – a place that’s doing everything right and deserves recognition. In this new series, he travels city-to-city to discover some of North America’s most enticing and authentic restaurants in need of the acknowledgment that can help them pop on the culinary map. From Philadelphia, Charleston, and Providence, to Toronto, St. John’s Newfoundland, and Québec City, he’ll assess and select one winning restaurant in each city. Along the way, Coren receives some helpful insight from local residents, such as Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

Caring little if the restaurant is a hole-in-the-wall, or a Michelin-starred destination, Coren judges his experiences based on the chef’s passion for food, the restaurant’s atmosphere, and service. This levels the playing field for all restaurants hoping to win his review. While it can get hot in the kitchen, it’s Coren’s British wit and blunt honesty that drives this new culinary series.

Million Dollar Critic is produced by Temple Street Productions and BBC AMERICA, in association with W Network. The series is distributed by BBC Worldwide.


Giles Coren – Host
Giles Coren has been the restaurant critic for The London Times for over 12 years. Prior to that he was restaurant critic for The Independent and Tatler. In 2005, Coren was named Food and Drink Writer of the Year, published his first novel, Winkler, and began appearing on Gordon Ramsay’s F-Word. Although he’s known for his candid critique, the writer is passionate about giving recognition to great restaurateurs, who truly deserve it and assisting them in finding their spot on the culinary map.

Julia Pileggi – Researchers
Julia is a food culture enthusiast and passionate traveler. Always on the hunt for food and restaurant experiences, her interests developed while growing up watching her parents and grandmothers cook.  Having eaten some of the best Italian home-cooking out there and having worked in the food industry for years, Julia has developed a high standard for quality and authenticity while also understanding the challenges of running a food business.

Episode Synopses

Episode One – Philadelphia – Thursday, January 22, 10:00 PM ET
In the inaugural episode, Giles Coren celebrates his love of food and all six Rocky movies in a city known to the world simply as ‘Philly.’  Here, he’s set to discover whether the food scene is ready to step out of New York City’s shadow and shed its blue-collar reputation. Viewers witness an epic throw-down of Coren vs. The Vegans as one of the city’s top alternative restaurants, Vedge, risks it all against the critic’s legendary disdain of vegan dining – a visit to Asian/Jewish fusion spot Cheu Noodle Bar – the rustic French restaurant The Mildred – which serves all their dishes in cast-iron – neighborhood spot The Avenue Delicatessen, serving up a mixture of Jewish/Italian deli cuisine – and finally Kanella, a popular, authentic Greek Cypriot restaurant, run by a physically imposing, uber-passionate chef/owner with attitude and opinions who might be a true match for this critic… Local Dining Guest: Ed Rendell, former Philadelphia Mayor and Governor of Pennsylvania.

Episode Two – Charleston – Thursday, January 29, 10:00 PM ET
Giles Coren secretly wants to live the life of a Southern gentleman but the mint juleps will have to wait.  His million dollar mission in Charleston is to see if the city can live up to its much-hyped reputation as one of the most exciting places to eat in North America. Tonight’s visits include Alluette’s Café, a spot trumpeting holistic soul food with celebrity-named dishes – brand new restaurant The Obstinate Daughter, a place serving beach inspired, upscale dining – one of Charleston’s oldest restaurants, Poogan’s Porch, where the chef is challenged by the critic to prepare a recipe from 1847 – the super casual place, The Lot, that bares the slogan “Live. Love. Local” – and the authentic Chinese restaurant Lee Lee’s Hot Kitchen. Local Dining Guest: Jeff Allen, Charleston-based food critic and educator.

Episode Three – Toronto – Thursday, February 5, 10:00 PM ET
The London Times’ food critic, Giles Coren, journeys to Toronto, admitting he knows very little about the city and its rapidly growing food scene. Here to taste for himself, will he be surprised by the skill and attitudes of Toronto chefs? The inaugural episode includes visits to The Atlantic, a restaurant with no menu, pay-what-you-think-it’s-worth philosophy, and an eccentric, multi-tasking owner, who is also the host, bartender, chef, and server – Opus, a pricy old-school restaurant with 3000 bottles on its wine list; hugely popular Indo-Pakistani buffet King Place hipster bistro Small Town Food Co. – and Mexican food stall turned restaurant, Agave y Aguacate. Local Dining Guests: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and Robin Dolittle, news reporter, author, and unfussy vegetarian.

Episode Four – St. John’s Newfoundland – Thursday, February 12, 10:00 PM ET
Amidst St. John’s recently booming economy, its food scene has gone crazy. But is its day of reckoning at hand? Giles Coren travels to what he describes as “a rock in the middle of the Atlantic ocean” to determine whether the restaurants are anywhere close to being the real deal. The episode includes visits to Saltwater, an up-and-coming restaurant with lots of love and a wild Serbian twist – Chinched Bistro, a veritable palace of porcine goodness, where the critic is encouraged to order the off-menu item pig’s trotters – Raymond’s, a dining room that has already garnered huge accolades as one of Canada’s best and where the critic issues a next-to-impossible tasting menu challenge to the talented staff – The Reluctant Chef, a spot with extremely enthusiastic staff – and lastly, Bacalao, where the owner pulls out all the stops to charm the reluctant writer. Local Dining Guest: Sabrina Wyatt, country music artist and professional crabber.

Episode Five – Providence – Thursday, February 19, 10:00 PM ET
Founded in 1636, Providence embodies a uniquely independent spirit.  It’s also noted for a restaurant scene so strong it’s leading the city out of recession. Giles Coren is here to find out if Providence’s food is really that good. Restaurants visited this week are the small, independent enterprise known as North, where the laid back, socially conscious cook/owners are committed to their neighborhood – traditional Peruvian and Bolivian spot Los Andes, where the critic experiences a totally different, super high-energy approach to dining; Nick’s on Broadway, where the chef/owner has other ideas about what to serve the writer, gambling big on impressing with his off-menu initiative – Joe Marzilli’s Old Canteen, a Providence favorite since 1956, where one can find lighter traditional items that surprise in their execution and local focus – and finally The Dorrance, located in a renovated bank building and struggling to rebound from the loss of its head chef. Local Dining Guest: Frank Terranova, Providence-based Chef and Educator.

Episode Six – Quebec City – Thursday, February 26, 10:00 PM ET
Giles Coren has high hopes for Quebec City as he’s keen to discover a new kind of French cuisine. As one of the oldest European settlements in North America, has the adventuresome spirit of Quebec’s founders inspired an emerging food scene that impresses the critic? This week he visits Hosaka-Ya, an authentic ramen house run by a family of passionate, exacting Japanese-Quebecois chefs with a dream of earning Tokyo-style lineups outside their door – the city’s most notorious hipster spot L’affaire est Ketchup, which has received a lot of attention (including a nod from The New York Times) for its bohemian, booze-fuelled approach to good times – Soupe & Cie that offers a welcoming soup and raw foods experience which is unique to a city known for the richness of its cuisine – upscale restaurant Panache, which has imported a new chef from Paris in an effort to keep up with global culinary trends – and lastly, La Traite, which serves up a modern take on indigenous foods. Local Dining Guest: Eva Avila, singer-songwriter and food lover.