Food Network’s ‘Takeout’ twist to showcase Alabama chef – AL.com

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Celebrity chef Guy Fieri will have a taste of Alabama in the mix as he hits the coronavirus shutdown head-on in some new episodes of his Food Network show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”

On Friday, Food Network will air what will be the first of at least three “Takeout”-themed episodes of the show. The usual “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” format features Fieri cruising around the country in a flashy Camaro and dropping in on local hot spots, sampling signature treats and going into the kitchen to see how they’re made. The stay-at-home regimen of the epidemic makes that approach unworkable, so Fieri is serving up something different: A series of episodes in which he gets together with some of his culinary cronies by video chat.

That’s where “Panini Pete” Blohme of the Mobile area comes in. Two of Blohme’s restaurants, Panini Pete’s and Sunset Pointe at Fly Creek Marina, both in Fairhope, have been featured in the show, and he’s made guest appearances in several other Fieri shows. When Fieri approached him about being one of the guinea pigs for something new, he was game.

Food Network’s pitch to viewers is that “Throughout the episodes, some of the most memorable Triple D alumni will teach Guy new recipes that bring international cuisines into viewers’ own homes.”

“We are continuing to cook up creative programming ideas that entertain our viewers during these unprecedented times,” Food Network President Courtney White, said in a release. “‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives is a fan-favorite, and we are thrilled to be able to still deliver it to our audience in unique ways from special ‘DDD: A to Z marathons to new ‘DDD: Takeout’ episodes self-shot by Guy at home.”

“Triple D has always been about hittin’ the road and celebrating the hard workin’ folks of the restaurant business,” Fieri said in the same Food Network announcement. “And while the restaurants are partially closed and the Camaro is parked, ‘DDD: Takeout is here to show you how your favorite chefs are still cookin’ it up to keep people fed, support their communities, their families, and their employees.”

Blohme said the idea of doing the show by videoconference was just a starting point. “It’s even crazier than that,” he said. “We filmed ourselves in our restaurants.” Fieri’s production team sent audiovisual gear to the restaurants and coached staff on how to use it to get the shots they wanted.

Blohme had submitted recipes from Ed’s Seafood Shed, his Causeway seafood restaurant, and Squid Ink, his downtown Mobile gastropub. On the show you’ll see his team cooking up a Squid Ink specialty, Paella Fritters.

Squid Ink Eclectic Eats and Drinks
Restaurateur Pete Blohme shows off an item that epitomizes Squid Ink’s playful approach to multicultural culinary traditions: Paella fritters. (Lawrence Specker | [email protected])Lawrence Specker | [email protected]

These contain saffron rice, grilled chicken, manchego cheese, peas, chorizo and romesco sauce, fried up in a finger-food form. Blohme thinks it’s perfect from the show for a couple of reasons. One is that it takes Paella, a dish many amateur chefs find exotic and daunting, and puts it in an accessible hush puppy form factor. Another is that it exemplifies his goal of having Squid Ink’s menu reflect Mobile’s multicultural port city heritage.

“It’s a great dish,” he said. “I love it because it reflects our Spanish heritage, but it’s also completely Southern.”

“DDD: Takeout” doesn’t stop with a simple demonstration. Blohme said his crew boxed up ingredients for the dish and shipped them to Fieri, so that he could then cook the fritters at home with members of his family helping out. Even unboxing the packages from participating restaurants is part of the entertainment. “He gave me a hard time because it was so many ingredients,” Blohme said.

The first episode of “DDD: Takeout” airs at 8 p.m. Central time on Friday, April 24, on Food Network and will be shown again at 4 p.m. and 11 p.m. Central on Saturday, April 25. It’ll feature “chicken tamales from Arizona, Alabama paella fritters, European dumplings outta Vegas and a Kansas City burnt-end Philly cheesesteak.”

The episode premiering May 1 will feature “primo pork from New Hampshire, California chicken Parm, Minneapolis pizza and tuna all the way from Hawaii.” On May 8, viewers get “a French dip from Seattle, San Diego arancini, Boston kebabs and bangin’ shrimp all the way from North Pole, Alaska.”

“It’s fun, fun stuff,” Blohme said.

While Fieri wants to keep the spotlight on restaurants while they can’t offer dine-in service, Blohme said he hopes it’ll also whet appetites for the day the doors open back up — and he hopes that’ll be soon.

“We’re going to start gearing back up slowly,” he said. He thinks Squid Ink and Panini Pete’s may begin offering takeout in the near future, and he’s hopeful that Alabama will begin allowing limited dine-in service sometime in early May.

He also said he’s got another Food Network appearance in the works: A special challenge on “Guy’s Grocery Games” in which he and other chefs on the Messlords team will be paired with chefs who are also military veterans. That should air in May, he said.

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