A crew from Food Network Canada recently descended upon the nation’s capital region to film several upcoming episodes of You Gotta Eat Here. The premise of the show — a riff on the US version, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives — is to follow the host, John Catucci, as he travels across the country stopping at greasy spoons and local joints to discover Canada’s “most delicious, mouthwatering, over-the-top comfort food.” In each episode, Catucci interviews the chef/owners and goes into the kitchens to find out how they make their signature dishes.
On this recent round of filming, the show apparently stopped in on Murray Street, Pressed, The Smoque Shack, and across the river, at Edgar. City Bites caught up with Edgar’s owner, Marysol Foucault, after the two-day shoot to find out what it was like to be featured on the show.
First of all, how are places chosen to be featured on “You Gotta Eat Here”?
I was told they start off with a very large list of restaurants in all cities. The show’s saavy research people narrow it down to a certain number per city and they send their recommendations to Food Network for approval. Food Network requests a video of the chef(s) that would appear on the show and some pictures of dishes, descriptions, notes about the restaurant and you. I was told yesterday that a lot of factors are accounted for, like buzz, originality, word of mouth, reputation (this makes me think they could have done a Mellos type place…) Nothing tells us exactly why they chose us.
Before the show contacted you, had you already watched it?
I had never seen the show. When they called back in May, I had no clue what it was about. I did not jump on immediately, it was an odd day — I had also been contacted for a book deal in the morning so I thought the universe was messing with me. I inquired about the show and a lot of people knew about it. I figured why not?
What was involved in the two days of filming?
I had to be dressed the exact same way — hair the same, nails, shoes clean — just so that it seemed as if it was all filmed the same day.
The filming process was a challenge for us as it is such a small space. Remember Edgar is just over 350 square feet with the washroom and storage so when you bring in two large cameras, spotlights, more lighting and a crew of six, ahem, well… then fitting our staff of 6 for 7 and patrons… it was quite the party! We also regularly serve only three brunch options, but had to do five for Food Network, plus a special one for all the courageous people who ate outside (so that it was easy to eat take-out).
Our second day of filming was a different challenge, space-wise, as all is so narrow and small. They had to work out fun angles. And I had a bit of running to do as we needed duplicates for everything. Finding somewhere to put all the prep was a brain-twister! It reminded me much of working at urban element during cooking classes.
Filming was fun by mid-day when I finally got the hang of things. Nothing horrible to report except for the fact that they wanted John [Catucci, the show’s host] to use the mandolin; we were worried for his fingers.
Any other highlights?
Listening in to what patrons said when interviewed — My staff reported most of this to me as I was cooking — it was very heartwarming. People have an attachment to a place and food, it is lovely that I may have a tiny part in their lives.
Which dishes did you prepare?
I made the dutch baby, a wildblueberry dutch baby, La bucheronne breakfast, Huevos rancheros, and Leger breakfast. They also filmed some sandwiches and dessert.
Any aspirations for a future on Food TV or to have a cooking show?
Nah. I am not a TV persona, I am too shy for that. And too tiny. Although having me butcher larger animals could empower some other tiny women.
I don’t watch much television. I had the opportunity to watch Food Channel for 60 minutes in a hotel in Toronto, that’s it! But I wish people would stop glorifying chefs. This new generation of chefs, fresh out of school, thinks it all comes so easily. They don’t want the long hours — they want to party, they want the pay, they want to be on TV, in books.
If you studied to be a chef, be a chef. You shouldn’t do it to be a TV rockstar — this is not real life. TV makes it look so glamourous. Many TV chefs have never even worked in kitchens, they just look good cooking! On the flip side, I love the fact that TV shows featuring food empowers home cooks to be more adventurous and passionate.