Netflix Newcomer ‘Million Pound Menu’ Delivers the Goods

A new reality show from Netflix and the BBC Two mines drama from a part of the food industry that you don’t often see on TV: the relationship between upstart restaurateurs and potential investors.


Every episode of Million Pound Menu begins with a group of hot shot investors — including Meatliquor kingpin Scott Collins, chef/restaurateur Atul Kochhar, and luxury hotelier Lydia Forte — sitting around a big table reviewing business plans from prospective restaurateurs. Two groups are selected, and the investors pick which ones they are going to scope out that week. The restaurant teams are then given identical pop-up spaces where they cook private meals for the potential investors, a half-priced “soft opening” dinner, and a full service for anyone who wants to show up. After these three rounds have concluded, the would be-restaurateurs wait in their empty dining rooms hoping to see one of the investors walk in the door to make them an offer with their own cash. In the show, as in real life, there’s not always a happy ending to the investor saga.

Part of the appeal of this program, especially if you’re someone who obsesses over restaurants, is seeing how closely these businesses adhere to the dining trends of the day. The first season includes a vegan junk food shop (à la By Chloe), a sustainable seafood shack (like Seamore’s), a fast-casual Cuban operation (in the vein of Medianoche), a raw cookie dough shop (basically a version of ), and a gourmet burger bar (the list goes on and on and on). The majority of the chefs on Million Pound Menu are pitching just the sort of highly-scalable concepts that seem to be replacing little cafes and bistros in major cities around the world, and these are precisely the kinds of businesses that the investors dream of turning into monster franchises. If you’re like me, after watching the show, you will immediately Google the names of some of the businesses to see how they’re faring out there in the real world.