SINGAPORE - It is The Apprentice meets food in celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay's latest reality television competition, Gordon Ramsay's Future Food Stars.
Like The Apprentice, which showcases the business abilities of contestants, the eight-episode show puts 12 British up-andcoming food and beverage (F&B) entrepreneurs through various business-related challenges to test their skills, creativity and mettle.
The prize? Ramsay's investment of £150,000 (S$247,000).
The first episode premiered last Monday (Aug 22) on BBC Lifestyle (StarHub TV Channel 432 or Singtel TV Channel 255) and streaming service BBC Player.
It saw the 55-year-old British chef-restaurateur take a dramatic leap out of a helicopter into the sea to greet the contestants - aged 27 to 46 - on a beach in Cornwall.
Ramsay then gave them their first task: jumping off a cliff into the sea, to see how they would react under pressure.
This was followed by a challenge to sell street food from beach shacks.
The series was shot across picturesque locations across the United Kingdom.
In one episode, contenders had to teeter on high wires to serve lunch to Ramsay and two mountain rescuers 300m above the valley floor in the Lake District.
Other challenges were based on the biggest F&B trends in recent years, with industry experts weighing in on the contestants' performance.
In Ramsay's favourite challenge, teams had to create their own online delivery service.
Aside from feeding hungry office workers, a secret panel of judges - which included Deliveroo's co-founder Will Shu - also ordered their food online.
In an e-mail interview with The Sunday Times, Ramsay said the challenge gave insight into how customers vote with their eyes, by looking at the pictures and descriptions.
Another challenge saw competitors creating and presenting their own non-alcoholic brand for the likes of Mr Ben Branson, creator of British company Seedlip, known for its distilled non-alcoholic spirits.
On the non-alcoholic beverage scene, Ramsay said: "It's one of the fastest developing drink sectors on the planet, let alone in the country.
"It was really important to not become too food-related, and focus on the business element. Have they got the acumen to understand the ethics of business, and can they see a decent profit? Does their business work in such a busy sector?"
While the challenges were clearly designed to pile on the pressure, the contestants are no strangers to the F&B industry.
They come from various businesses - from selling bottled Indian sauces and plantain-based snacks, to running a mussels bar and smoked salmon company.
Due to the pandemic, they presented their businesses in "pitch interviews", and shared their ambitions and ideas over Zoom.
On picking the final 12, Ramsay said: "I had to see a spark, something special in each contender that made me think if they won, I would like to work with them. Chemistry is important."
Two that stood out immediately for him were vegan entrepreneur Valentina Fois from London - for her energy and level of competitiveness - and former navy lieutenant Steph Buttery from Manchester, who creates Japaneseinspired soft drinks.
Expect this season's investment to pay off by this or next year, said Ramsay, who is looking to shoot the show's second season in the east and west coast of Scotland.
Gordon Ramsay's Future Food Stars airs on Mondays at 10.05pm on BBC Lifestyle (StarHub TV Channel 432 or Singtel TV Channel 255) and BBC Player.