Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Food channel feasts on Cincinnati

        Hmmm. Looks as if the rest of the world is discovering something Cincinnati has always known — namely that this is a great town for eating — thanks to the efforts of the Food Network.

        In the past, the Maisonette has been on. So has Goodies Barbecue Restaurant, Jungle Jim's cheese sculptor Sarah Baumann, Graeter's, Montgomery Inn and Busken's. And that's only in one year.

        Now this: J's Fresh Seafood owner and chef Jimmy Gherardi taped a pilot Monday for the hungry channel. Fresh Catch was shot at Culinary Sol's (the cooking school at Rookwood Commons) amphitheater before an audience of 60.

        The idea, Gherardi says, is for him to act as host chef and every week bring in a guest to demonstrate seafood dishes. Guest Monday was Gary Coyle from New York's Tavern on the Green.

        “If it flies, we'll shoot every episode here. It's fun because there are no scripts or anything. We just talk about food and what to do with it.

        “The thing is, I have no idea when we'll hear if it flies or when it will air, if it does fly.”

        One thing he does know for sure: He and daughter Anna leave this week to cook at the 20th annual Food and Wine Classic at Aspen, Colo., a three-day festival sponsored by Food and Wine magazine. A capacity crowd of 10,000 (it always sells out) pays $850 for three days of food and wine tastings.

        “It's just a big party, really,” Gherardi says. “We're there sponsored by Martini (formerly Martini and Rossi) so we'll be cooking with vermouth.”

        He'll dress one of his dishes with a vermouth wasabi. Another one, a desert, is berries in a chocolate cup with a vermouth syrup.

        “It's going to be fun, but also busy. We'll have to do it for four sessions and be prepared to feed 10,000 at every one. Luckily, I have a lot of good help.”

        Hope so.

        Popping away: In other food news, you were mayhaps wondering why the heck the Food Network was in town a couple weeks ago, hanging around in Evendale?

        Wellsir, says Angela Blinkiewicz, marketing and advertising director of Gold Medal Products, they were here filming three segments for the network's Unwrapped series. That's the one, recall, where the show goes behind the scenes at food plants and tells how things are made. Like bubble gum and Tootsie Pops and stuff.

        So anyway, the show schlepped out to Evendale and shot three segments at Gold Medal, a huge manufacturer and distributor of concession equipment and supplies since 1931. “Fun food equipment,” they call it.

        So then, the first segment of the batch, all about popcorn, popcorn flavorings and machines, aired Monday.

        Segment No. 2, a little job about cotton candy, its popularity, how they make it, what it really is, airs June 17.

        And the third, a segment on that summertime fave the Sno-Kone and its 27 zillion flavors, airs July 29, just when you need one most. All shows are at 9 p.m.


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