I would love to host at TV show that involved food. Some kind of game show or reality show would be awesome. But the trend in Food TV is all about the real chef as television star… and let’s be honest, I don’t even qualify as a real cook.
What’s exciting about this trend is that the chefs on TV are the real deal. We all know about Andrew Zimmern’s success—he’s trying to reposition himself as a chef, rather than a guy who eats bizarre food. Of course, Zimmern is a chef, with an impressive catalog of recipes and life experience in kitchens.
Scott Pampuch is going national next week. He’s hosting the second season of In Search of Food, which launches on Ovation TV Monday, April 16. What’s Ovation TV, you wonder? Beats me. It’s channel 161 on Comcast, 274 on DirecTV, 291 on Dish, so there’s that.
Pampuch is one of the most impressive talkers I’ve ever met, and that’s saying something. I’ve always thought he should have a show, and In Search of Food will be true to his career mission of pushing real, local food. The first episode is in Boulder, Colorado, where he’s challenged to prepare school lunch for 1000 school kids on a budget of $1.15 per kid.
Personally, I think we obsess too much about school lunch—I don’t think our kids are obese because of what they eat at lunch, it’s what they eat at home that’s the issue—but the lunch discussion can get people to think more about what they’re doing overall. But I digress.
Scott created Corner Table Restaurant, and sold it, he launched Tour de Farm here, and discontinued it this summer. Now he’s working at Minnesota Valley Country Club, and I can’t wait for fancy member to invite me to join them for dinner.
In the food world, TV is a controversial subject, because a lot of chefs feel that food television has created annoying diners. One chef told me he can always tell if a diner is a Top Chef viewer, because the complaints come pouring into the kitchen—often inaccurate complaints. What I like to see is when a chef goes on TV, and then uses that fame to launch killer restaurants.
We just visited Chicago, where Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard has an amazing restaurant called Girl & the Goat. The bread is baked fresh in the restaurant every day, the meat is butchered in-house, and much of the food is sourced from local farms.
The vibe reminds me of Butcher & the Boar—casual environment with precise, fantastic cooking, meant to be shared with a group. We loved the hiramasa crudo with crisp pork belly and a pop of chili aioli. The pork shank (right) was gorgeous, with a broccoli-kohlrabi kimchee! The Pig Face (below, left) has a sunny side egg, a nice strong tamarind flavor, all roasted in a wood oven.
I’m a sucker for cheeks, and the Halibut cheeks (below, right) were over-the-top delicious: moist, full of flavor, extremely memorable.
Izard’s opening a second restaurant now in Chicago, and her success is what I hope to see for Scott. I’d love to see him get hugely famous on TV, but as a local guy, I’d be even happier if he comes back and heads up a couple of delicious restaurants.
Minnesota Valley Country Club
6300 Auto Club Road, Bloomington
Girl & the Goat
809 W. Randolph St., Chicago, IL