Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Behind the scenes at a Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives taping at Pecan Lodge in Dallas
Under the bright lights with Guy Fieri.
DALLAS As suspected, Pecan Lodge Catering Co. at the Dallas Farmers Market was one of seven restaurants in Dallas-Fort Worth to receive a visit from his Holy Guyness, making it part of the big local sweep of filming last week by Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.
All of the restaurants approached by DD&D -- Cane Rosso, Pecan Lodge, Maple & Motor, Afrah, Pepe & Mito's, Chop House Burgers, and A Taste Of Europe -- were told that they'd have to close down to the public for the day, and were warned to keep their lips zipped about the impending shoots. Maple & Motor posted on its Facebook page that it would be closed without explanation; Cane Rosso tweeted a fib that a pipe burst.
The restaurants were allowed to invite friends, family, and regular customers to be part of the shoot, but were warned against any media incursion outside of the Food Network, who claimed that too much attention too soon would backfire, and who wanted to ensure that the shoots were not besieged by lovestruck Fieri fans.
For Pecan Lodge, that was difficult, as its "regulars" include bloggers, media, and up-and-coming chefs. So it was a food- and media-centric crowd who assembled on December 7 to eat barbecue on TV and talk about it with Guy.
The day started at 8 a.m. for owners Justin and Diane Mason Fourton, who'd planned ahead and placed a brisket in the smoker the night before. Their kitchen segment, in which Justin and Guy went over the finer points of their smoker nicknamed Lurleen, was filmed throughout the morning. The dining room segment with about 30 friends-and-family began at 1:30 p.m.
First, DD&D staffer Matthew Giovinetti laid down the rules: Don't look at the camera -- pretend it's not there. Keep the volume of your voice at library levels. Don't eat your food all at once -- save half because, if you get on TV, you'll want to have food in front of you that you are eating for the camera.
Giovinetti said with some pride that he was in charge of Guy's signature Camaro, which was parked on the Farmers Market walkway, all gleaming perfection. A small crew waited for Guy's arrival. "I usually drive it from the trailer to the front of the restaurant, but sometimes I get to drive it from wherever we're staying," Giovinetti said, deflating the fantasy you may have held that Guy can actually be found driving the roadways of America in that heap.
Instead he was chauffeured in a black SUV -- which he smoothly exited before sliding into the Camaro for his on-camera entrance. We friends & family were busy not noticing, which wasn't hard to do as it was outside. Guy's subsequent entry into the restaurant area was discreet -- no fanfare of horns or sprinkling of glitter. In fact, the entire taping was pretty low-key; his crew, a well-oiled machine, had a friendly, innocuous camaraderie. A producer came around and chatted to suss out whether or not you'd be a good on-camera candidate. If you were, they had you sit in one of the 2-3 tables they set up with lighting and camera.
Guy's first interview was with new Sissy's Fried Chicken chef Jeffrey Hobbs and Central Market's Jennifer Chininis; the library atmosphere made it hard to eavesdrop but their topic seemed to be Pecan Lodge's fried chicken. Eventually my table got drafted, too. Rob Shearer of Go Oak Cliff professed his undying devotion to Pecan Lodge's burnt ends, while Full Custom Gospel BBQ blogger Daniel Vaughn testified to the wonders of their chopped sandwich. I dutifully pointed out that a person could eat the "Hot Mess" brisket-topped baked sweet potato straight, no brisket. "It could almost be vegetarian, huh," said Guy, leading the conversation ever-so-gracefully. His deftness at interviewing under the bright lights made the whole thing seem casual and fun.
When it was over, he slipped out the side door and back into the black SUV, just like that. Afterwards, people hung around, seeking some kind of closure. Justin ferried over a couple of slices of special smoked Wagyu -- this was the table of BBQ Snob Daniel Vaughn, after all. Matthew Hamilton, owner of the Local Yocal Butcher Shop in McKinney, who'd provided the Wagyu, came over in his cowboy hat to discuss the unique personality of the fat, while chef Randall Copeland stood nearby. Everyone tried a bite, noting the ultra tenderness and intriguing gamy flavor, before all agreeing that it might've been the best piece of meat they'd ever eaten. The entire shoot took all of two hours, and then it was over.
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