Before even considering applying to be on a restaurant reality show, you first have to weigh the benefits and the drawbacks. For example, on almost every episode of Kitchen Nightmares, Gordon Ramsay will discover filthy kitchens that a redesigned menu and new ceiling tiles can’t recover from. On the plus side, if you have a real sob story or a fantastic dish, the emotional value that’s attached can end up working in your favor.
Tip #1: Apply to as many shows as possible. Casting calls happen at all different times of year and each show may have different qualifications for selecting contestants. Here are a few that usually have year-round open casting calls:
- Kitchen Nightmares Casting
- Kitchen Nightmares application
- Email: KitchenNightmares@theconlincompany.com
- Call: 1-866-226-2226
- Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives Casting
- Email: DDDinfo@mac.com
- Restaurant Impossible Casting
Tip #2: Keep looking. If you really want the PR that comes with being on a reality TV show, pay attention to sites like RealityWanted.com which features tons of open casting calls, like this one for a new show on the Food Network looking for restaurants that need a new executive chef.
Tip #3: Be prepared. When you apply, prepare to answer a lot of questions. Some casting call directors may ask you your annual losses, while other may simply as you to explain your best dish.
Tip #4: Go above and beyond. Many restaurants looking to be featured on cable networks will create YouTube videos to impress producers. This is an especially good idea if you and your staff have something special to offer, in addition to great personalities. The more you have to show, the better.
Tip #5: Learn how to follow instructions. One of the biggest pet peeves of casting directors is the inability to follow the instructions on your application. Read every line carefully and give them as much information as they ask for. Another pet peeve is focusing on the “look” rather than the content. If you are putting together a video to submit, make sure that your restaurant is brightly lit, along with your face and of course, your personality.
In general, every reality show is looking for drama. In the food industry, that drama might just be a reaction by the host to your most famous local dish, or it might be your financial distress. Finally, be prepared to get exposed. If PR from getting on a reality TV is what you’re looking for, just be sure to weigh the pros and cons of your national exposure.