Food Network samples NorthlandA film crew for the highly acclaimed "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" surprised customers at three Northland eateries on Wednesday.
By: Peter Passi, Duluth News Tribune
When Pat Schock sat down for lunch Wednesday at the Duluth Grill, he certainly wasn’t dressed for a TV shoot. Schock had been taping drywall at his Hermantown home and arrived at his favorite joint wearing mud-spattered work duds.
Nevertheless, when he stumbled into a crew shooting a segment for “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” — the cable Food Network’s No. 1-rated show — Schock was more than willing to go on camera and laud the restaurant’s home-style cuisine to a national audience.
His favorite item on the menu? The Royale, a bacon cheeseburger built around fresh beef from a grass-fed cattle farm in Wrenshall.
Former Duluth Mayor Gary Doty gushed over a plate of bison pot roast, also from a grass-fed herd. He praised the tenderness of the meat and the savory vegetables complemented by “just the right amount of spices.”
“We travel a lot, and I’ve never seen a menu as comprehensive,” Doty said.
The Duluth Grill isn’t the only Northland eatery to recently grab the attention of Guy Fieri, the spiked-haired road food guru and the show’s colorful host. Fieri will come to the Northland for additional filming, but producers were keeping the exact date of his appearance under wraps.
On Tuesday, the film crew stopped at another popular Duluth dining destination: At Sara’s Table/Chester Creek Cafe.
And the show is expected soon in Cloquet to shoot at Gordy’s Hi-Hat.
“We’re really honored, but I’ll be glad when it’s over,” said Dan Lundquist, Gordy’s owner, of the approaching visit.
Carla Blumberg, co-owner of the Chester Creek Cafe, said she was pleased to return to business as usual Wednesday, after her Tuesday shoot. “It was exciting but hard, too,” she said.
The show relies on tips from viewers and its own research team to find restaurants worthy of featuring.
Lundquist is hopeful the national exposure will encourage more people to take the Cloquet exit, helping not just his business but others in town.
“Any time we can get someone to stop in Cloquet, I’m all for that,” he said.
Tom Hanson, co-owner of the Duluth Grill, said the national attention could help bring more tourists to the region.
“This could be a huge thing for Duluth,” he said. “We believe rising waters lift all boats, and everyone will benefit.”
Eileen Ketola of Superior said she eats at the Duluth Grill three to four times per week. She said the television recognition is well-deserved.
“We like healthy food, and this is one of the best places to go. We need more places like this,” she said.
Ketola’s favorite menu item? The flannel hash — a mélange of sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, onions and red peppers baked, not fried.
No broadcast dates have been set yet, but it probably will take four to eight months for the Northland shows to reach the air.