Chicagoan Vies for "America's Next Great Restaurant"

Stephenie Park pitches business concept on NBC reality show

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Stephenie Park talks about competing on a reality show to try and make her dream come true.

    If you're wondering how passionate Stephenie Park is about food, look no further than her wedding pictures. She and her husband tied the knot inside Wicker Park's Big Star.

    Now she's starring on a bigger stage, one of 10 contestants competing to get their business concept funded on NBC's "America's Next Great Restaurant" reality show.

    But lest you think that Park is one of those people aggressively seeking stardom, consider that it's been 10 years since she's even owned a television -- enough time for the whole reality TV phenomenon to pass her by.

    "I didn't really know what it was about, except that people got really embarrassed and it could be bad for your career," Park says. "But I looked into it and realized it was a professional thing and the prize was amazing."

    The Harvard-educated lawyer spent two years in the Peace Corps, and was convinced to try out for the show by a co-worker. Her restaurant concept is called "Compleat," which would offer meals in fixed calorie packages.

    "It's unique because while other restaurants post their calorie information, with Compleat you don't even have to think about it. It would offer full meals with an entree, side and dessert or snack," Park says.

    The show's judges are also the investors, and include celebrity chefs Bobby Flay and Curtis Stone and Chipotle founder Steve Ells.

    The show's outcome has already been determined -- and of course Park is sworn to secrecy -- but she did say that she didn't get involved in the type of drama that's typically involved in most reality shows. Park managed to survive being cut on the first two episodes of the show.

    "I thought they were going to be a bunch of divas, but I'm still friends with a lot of them," Park says.

    "America's Next Great Restaurant" airs Sunday nights at 7 p.m. EST on NBC.