By Mike Williscraft
It’s a demanding schedule, but You Gotta Eat Here host John Catucci would not change a thing.
In the midst of shooting footage for the popular Food Network program – 26 shows, three restaurants per show, two full days of shooting for each restaurant – Catucci and his crack production team travel the countryside in search of signature dishes at unique eateries.
Nice gig, hug?
“It sure is,” said Catucci, between shots with customers at August Restaurant on Sunday afternoon.
With a background in comedy and music, one might wonder how he ended up hosting a food show.
“I knew the producer and they were looking for someone to host, someone who was not a chef. I’m that guy.”
And the improv chops of stand-up comedy serve him well, whether it be by coaxing comments out of nervous restaurant guests or entertaining babies between shots, as he did with August’s co-owner Clayton Gillie’s nephew.
But that is pretty much where the similarity ends.
“With stand-up, you get that immediate response from the audience. It’s live,” said Catucci.
“With TV, you shoot everything and then it goes to editing. You don’t see it for months and then it’s, ‘Oh, that’s what they used from all that.”
About six hours of footage was shot at August for a six-minute segment in the final product.
When the production team gets to its shooting location, the whole process is orchestrated to a “T”. Catucci is given a little bit of background on the restaurant owners and the dishes being prepared beforehand.
“Everything else with the customers and owners is improvised,” said Catucci.
After three-plus years of working on the program, Gillie said Catucci’s experience was apparent.
“He was just awesome. He chatted with everyone. He was super friendly. The whole crew was great,” said Gillie.
“It was really interesting to see how they set everything up, executed all the shots they needed and kept things moving smoothly all day.”
And by early evening Monday, they packed up and headed home.
Next week, they will be taping at a couple of locations in Hamilton.
Catucci said they try to coordinate shoots in different parts of the country at one time, but split up the segments so each show has a cross-section of locations and varieties of food.
Along the way, Catucci has tried just about everything.
His eyes rolled back in his head as he strained to think about his favourite location or favourite dish.
After 15 minutes of consideration, he provided a definitive answer….but you’ll have to plan a trip to get a sample.
“The Shuswap Pie Company in Salmon Arm, British Columbia,” recalled Catucci with a grin.
“They have the best strawberry rhubarb pie I’ve tasted. It was really out there,” recalled Catucci, noting a special request got him in a little trouble with the crew as they were heading home.
“The next day we had packed up and were leaving town and I asked the crew if they would mind stopping. I had to buy everyone lunch, which I didn’t have a problem with as long as I got some pie.”
Watch NewsNow for details on when the show will be appearing.
Host of the popular Food Network show You Gotta Eat Here John Catucci with August Restaurant owners Clayton Gillie, left, and Beth Ashton. The show’s crew took the place over Sunday and Monday to tape a program set to air in 6-8 weeks times. Watch NewsNow for an update when the scheduled date is set, Williscraft – Photo