You Gotta Eat Here, but you might as well also bowl here.
That's one of our crew's working philosophies as we travel this amazing country in search of great food. We bowl in every single city with an alley. It's become an obsession of mine -- though that certainly hasn't led to an improvement in my scores. The crew indulges me. I even bought bowling shoes to help out my game (confession: they haven't). We usually play five-pin -- but on the East Coast they have candlepin bowling, which is mix of five-pin and 10-pin and way harder.
On the open road, our crew typically travels in two minivans. Yup. Bowling and minivans! See? Television is a very glamourous business. And like on any family road trip, we always fight over the music - depending on who is driving and who will let me work the radio. I do have a reputation for loving my power ballads -- give me Bon Jovi any day of the week. Most of the vans have satellite radio, so we'll flip back and forth between '80s and '70s classics. But when a good power ballad comes on, I will belt right along with it. My crew just frowns.
YGEH! goes out of its way to visit locations that are outside of major cities; we won't shy away from places that are difficult to get to. We love a good road trip! This is a show about Canada and Canadian restaurants and there are tons of eateries outside of urban centres that are well worth the journey.
Everyone has their travel traditions -- that favourite restaurant where they just gotta eat on the way home from the cottage or visiting their grandmother, or to stop the kids from asking, "are we there yet?" Yes kids, we're there!
This coming season, in Churchill, MB, we visit the Tundra Inn and Pub, where they specialize in Northern comfort food like elk pie. It's the farthest distance we've travelled for the show; it took us two days to get there, but it was totally worth it.
Now, we couldn't drive to Churchill -- there aren't any roads. You can only get there by train or plane. So you can imagine how pleased everyone on the plane was to hear my very special version of "I'll Be There for You." We were there in the summer, beluga whale season, which is followed by polar bear season -- so if we had stuck around, maybe we would have gone from ordering off a menu to being on the menu. Seriously, they'll eat you.
In Kimberley, B.C., you'll see us visit the The Peddle and Tap. Kimberly is an Alpine mountain town in the Kootenays. It takes forever to get to because the roads wind all the way around the mountains. The restaurant is bicycle-themed and I got to ride a really old school tricycle. Also, I'm not very good at riding old school tricycles. I am good at eating pasta and these guys make Meat and Spaghetti Balls. That's right. They make balls out of the pasta, toss them with cheese and then deep fry them. Delicious!
Hey John, has anything weird happened to you on the road? Funny you should ask, Reader. Why yes it has.
We were driving down to Windsor, ON, one summer during the Euro Cup. Italy was playing a match and I was listening to it online with earphones while my director Jim Morrison rode shotgun, and stellar camera assistant Josh Henderson was behind the wheel. We were passing this giant transport truck and, at that exact moment, Italy scored and I went crazy. And they thought the transport truck was coming into our van's lane - so they lost their minds. Everyone basically peed their pants. But, in some ways, everyone won that day. Most importantly: Italy.
Oh yeah, and we almost hit a moose during Season 1 in Cape Breton, NB. We had been told by the locals to be wary of moose in the area. And we were like, pffft, okay... We were on the highway going back from the restaurant to hotel, and we were coming around this bend, and we saw a set of lights coming towards us. We quickly made the realization that the car ahead had actually just stopped. For a moose. When we did the same, the moose came up to the passenger's side and tried to jump the roadway railing. It screwed up and jumped on our car a little bit and then found its path. Everyone basically peed their pants. But I got the last laugh the next season when I ate a Pulled Moose Sandwich at Chaffe's Landing in Petty Harbour, Nfld. Point: Catucci.
Canada's chefs inspire me along the way, but so does this country's scenery. One of my favourite views is heading into Banff, AB, and you just see mountains in the distance. And then you're coming in and you're actually driving through them to get into the park. It's stunning.
When you're on the East Coast and you get to these small fishing villages like Lunenburg, NS, it looks like a postcard. And if you haven't seen Tofino, you're basically going to pee your pants it's so pretty. There's just nothing else in Canada that looks like it. It's perfect!
Many Canadians don't really get to see much of the country, but it truly has been one of the perks of this gig -- despite the long hours away from home. As a comedian, I'd visited major cities like Vancouver -- but never had the chance to drive around and tour the countryside. This country is gorgeous, and it's so vast that you kind of forget how many different looks it has!
We've learned that no distance is too far for a great meal. Take The Old Crow Café in Gabriola Island, B.C., where we visited in Season 3. Getting there was a full-day trek from Vancouver. We took the ferry to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, then drove up to Courtenay, and finally took another ferry over to Gabriola. But it was all worth it for a taste of Chef Darrin Boyko's Halibut Togarashi Tacos.
Is your mouth watering yet? How far would you go for great food? In this country, you'll never run out options as long as you stay clear of moose!
You Gotta Eat Here! airs on Food Network Canada on Fridays at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
Follow John Catucci on Twitter: www.twitter.com/johncatucci