To see this country from coast to coast, some people run marathons, some people bike. Funny man John Catucci eats his way through greasy spoons in Food Network’s new show, You gotta Eat Here!.
up! magazine chatted with Catucci in Calgary, where he and his crew stayed for about three weeks, hitting up comfort food joints like the Pfanntastic Pannenkoek Haus, Evelyn’s Memory Lane Café, Diner Deluxe, Tubby dog, Jelly Modern Doughnuts, and Fat City Franks.
How is this show different from Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives?
It’s all Canadian restaurants. It’s not like, “Oh, that’s nice, but I’m never going to be able to get there.” They’re places that you can actually go to. The main thing is: I’m not a chef. I’m a comic, so I’m coming at it with a different point of view.
How are the places chosen?
Lone Eagle Entertainment, the production company, has a research department they contact restaurants, check food blogs, read travel magazines, and and they get pointers and ideas.
What are your first thoughts when you walk into these kitchens?
When I walk into somebody else’s kitchen, I think, “Please don’t make a fool of yourself; please do not cut your finger off cutting an onion; and please try not to cry on camera when you’re chopping an onion.”
How much cooking do you do on the show?
They’re making me do a lot of it. They’re talking me through what I have to do to make the dish, what makes their dish so incredible and why we’re at their restaurant; and then we have fun. Yesterday, I got to ride a horse! I’m a Toronto boy, there are no horses in Toronto. It was fantastic!
Any particularly funny story that sticks out in your mind?
Me being on a horse is just ridiculously silly. Having to remember lines while riding a horse in the middle of Alberta was pretty fantastic.
What’s the best place you’ve been to on the show? For personal travels?
We were on the Cabot Trail and it’s just incredible. I think I have a soft spot for the east coast. There’s just something so beautiful about it. We were in Lunenberg, NS and that is so picturesque. You have all these houses there from the mid-to-late 1800s still perfectly preserved.
I was just in Vegas [for a personal trip] and that was lots of fun. The highlight was the Beatles show, I think it’s called Love. There’s was an italian restaurant in the Mirage, I think. They had the most incredible osso bucco I’ve ever had, like melt in your mouth. It reminded me of my dad’s ragout.
What do you think is the next up and coming culinary city in canada?
Everybody on the crew and I were just saying how incredible Calgary is. Calgary has got some amazing food. Borgo Trattoria is just incredible. It’s got some of the best Italian food I’ve had. We’ve been there three times.
I’m a big pasta freak! I’m Italian. If I don’t get pasta every two days, I kind of get the shakes. We went to a restaurant in Huntsville, ON called That Little Place by the Lights. It’s this tiny little Italian restaurant. Annie makes the most incredible lasagna I’ve ever had, from scratch. She makes the pasta from scratch, the béchamel sauce, and the meat sauce. She makes everything in-house and it’s incredible. We were in Turner Valley at a place called Chuckwagon Cafe & Cattle Co.They serve the most incredible steaks I’ve ever had in my entire life!
Try not to stuff everything in the overhead compartment. Leave room for other people, please.