Saturday, October 15, 2011

Man v. Food Nation Viewing Party at Tom + Chee

I declared Wednesday my official Tom + Chee day, picking up this Armagoetta sandwich for lunch from their Court Street shop in anticipation of its appearance on Wednesday night’s Man v. Food Nation Cincinnati show. A great combination of pickled cherry peppers, crispy fried onions (yep, like those atop a traditional green bean casserole), hot mustard, and goetta. I thought MvF host Adam Richman did a good job of explaining our regional specialty, goetta, as: “where patty sausage meets meat loaf meets scrapple."

I had hoped to try T+C’s other sandwich featured on MvF for dinner, the Blueberry Bleu (mozzarella, blue cheese, and homemade blueberry compote on an inside-out grilled glazed donut), but arrived at their Newport on the Levee location later than planned. Co-owners Corey Ward and Trew Quackenbush and their wives wanted the “friends and family only” viewing party to be a treat for all the staff too. So by the time I arrived, the kitchen was closed and they’d ordered in pizza. It was fun to see staff I’ve come to know, most of whom were present the day of filming, this time in street clothes and with children and significant others in tow for the big night.

There was both excitement and nervousness in the air as 9:00 p.m. approached. The Travel Channel's Man v. Food Nation film crew was in town for more than four days in August to shoot its Cincinnati episode. They spent the better part of their Saturday at T+C and host Adam Richman himself was there for more than three hours. What footage would make the cut for the half-hour episode T+C shared with Camp Washington Chili and Izzy’s?

The room went quiet for the intro, and all eyes were on the restaurant’s two TV screens for the first segment, featuring Tom + Chee.

Actually, I was surprised at how much of what I saw filmed ended up being packed into those 5-6 minutes. Although the Armagoetta and Blueberry Bleu were the two sandwiches that got the most attention the day of the shoot, I didn’t expect both of them to make air. Yet they did – including Trew’s solid demos at the cooktop, and Adam Richman’s rhapsodies about both. A whoop went up from the crowd when Richman used the word “melt-aphysical” to describe T+C’s grilled cheese, and we all applauded at the end of the segment. The food looked good on camera, the restaurant was well represented as being fun, fresh, and innovative, and Adam Richman’s enthusiasm for it was unmistakable.

The program included some gorgeous shots of the Ohio River and the bridges between downtown Cincinnati and our sister cities in Northern Kentucky, and it did justice to two other venerable Cincy restaurants as well. Izzy's is a place I've been going to since I was a kid and have written about before. Camp Washington Chili is one of the best independent Cincinnati-style chili parlors in town.

To be honest, once the T+C segment was over, we weren’t quite as glued to the TV. If you missed all or part of the Cincinnati episode of Man v. Food Nation or want to watch again, here are some upcoming air times on the Travel Channel:

Saturday, October 15 11:00 AM
Wednesday, October 19 9:30 PM
Thursday, October 20 12:30 AM
Saturday, October 22 11:30 AM

You can also find online video from the Cincy show on the Travel Channel website here, and here. And here is a terrific segment from my beloved Findlay Market that, alas, didn't make it into the show's half-hour time-slot. At about the 1:33 mark of you can see an actual "eggplant to go" from Daisy Mae's, which offers produce year-round at Findlay Market and convenient delivery - thanks, Barb :)

Tom + Chee's facebook page is the best source of info about their locations, hours, and the always evolving specials at both of their current locations, Court Street in Cincinnati and Newport on the Levee (near the Aquarium). Unfortunately, Tom + Chee no longer has their spot on Fountain Square since 3CDC banned food tents from the Square. I am keeping fingers crossed that could somehow change.

If you agree, here's a thought. The Enquirer/Metromix is running its 2011 Readers Choice dining poll. Tom + Chee isn't named as a nominee in any of the categories. However, "Most Buzz-Worthy" is a write-in/"essay question" category where you could voice your support for T+C (and, if you choose, how much you miss having them, and other food vendors, on the Square).

So . . . what do you do if you’re the owners of a small food business open less than two years and suddenly receiving this kind of national exposure? Breathe a sigh of relief at finally seeing it air. Thank your dedicated, hard-working crew and the rest of your support system. Enjoy a few moments of the high. Tend to your phone as it blows up. And brace yourself for what may come next. At least that’s what Mr. and Mrs. Tom and Mr. and Mrs. Chee are doing.

I was honored to be invited to share this milestone with the T+C crew. And I thank Adam Richman and his gang for making my city look so good and tasty on TV.


Aunty Belle said...


ya know--this is jes'; a stunnin' write up--glorious! They should PAY YOU!! This is a job well done.

Mah mouth is waterin'...

Buzz Kill said...

Armagoetta! How could that not be good?

Sharon Rudd said...

Aunty, it is so cool to see these hard-working local folks get national attention - and a bump in business!

Buzzy, oh, yeah, the Armagoetta is good. And today I had another special, their "Lucky Duck" - duck and fig/onion jam grilled cheese. Totally awesome!