EXCLUSIVE: Producer Scott Stuber (Ted) is teaming with TV chef Gordon Ramsay for The Inferno, an NBC drama project set in a restaurant. It was created by Liz Garcia and Josh Harto, creators of TNT’s underrated dramedy Memphis Beat, with Smash director Michael Mayer attached to direct. I hear Inferno landed at NBC in a competitive situation with Fox, home of Gordon’s unscripted series Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares and Hotel Hell.

The Inferno is described as a dark, operatic drama about two fledgling New York restaurateurs who, on the eve of bankruptcy, decide to hire a magnetic, fiery, larger-than-life mysterious Italian chef. His arrival changes these best friends’ fortunes by making their restaurant the talk of the town, giving them everything they’ve ever wanted — but at a terrible cost. While the setup could evoke Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, in which he helps failing restaurants, and foul-mouthed Ramsay too can be described as fiery and larger-than-life, the character in Inferno is not based on him, though he is expected to contribute with stories from his experiences.

Universal TV is producing Inferno with Stuber’s studio-based Bluegrass Television as well as Ramsay’s One Potato, Two Potato. Executive producing are Garcia, Harto, Mayer, Bluegrass’ Stuber and Quan Phung, and One Potato’s Ramsay and Adeline Ramage Rooney. Bluegrass is behind NBC’s sophomore comedy series Whitney and the TV Land comedy pilot Brothers-In-Law starring Jay Mohr and Josh Cooke.

Stage director Mayer, a Tony winner for Spring Awakening, has been on a roll in TV. He made his TV debut directing the pilot for Smash, which went to series with him serving as director/consulting producer. His follow-up effort, NBC’s Do No Harm pilot, also was picked up to series for midseason. In features, Garcia and Harto are producing indie The Lifeguard, which was written and directed by Garcia. The husband-and-wife due met on CBS’ Cold Case when Harto, who started off as an actor, guest starred on an episode written by Garcia. All principals are repped at CAA; Garcia and Harto are managed by Madhouse.