Nearly four years after we launched a campaign to convince the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives to feature some First State favorites, the popular program’s spiky-haired host Guy Fieri and his crew found their way to Delaware, filming upcoming episodes Monday and Tuesday at some great local joints, including at least one that was atop the balloting in the poll we ran in 2015.
We caught up with Guy Fieri this morning as he wrapped up taping at one of Wilmington’s newest eateries — Farmer & the Cow on Market Street. “Ha ha — your poll was definitely one of the reasons we came to Wilmington! But you know, we like to listen to our viewers, and there were about four states we have never visited, and I said man, we have to get up to Delaware,” said Fieri.
Five Wilmington restaurants were tapped for the DDD honor. Each will learn their episode show date about 30 days prior.
The three he visited yesterday included Mrs. Robinos and Pastabilities in Wilmington’s Little Italy as well as Locale BBQ Post on Lincoln Street. With one more restaurant to visit this afternoon — Maiale Deli and Salumeria on Lancaster Pike — Fieri gave a thumbs up to his culinary experience in the First State. “I’ve liked them all. You’ve got some great spots here in Wilmington.”
Mike Day, owner of the Farmer & the Cow was shocked when he got a phone call from producers two weeks ago asking if he wanted to take part in a DDD production. “The entire process has been an absolute blast. Everyone involved was just awesome. Fieri was just awesome – really fun in the kitchen,” he said.
The menu at Farmer & the Cow is almost entirely burgers, which is what Fieri noshed on today. “Our burgers are different from most, and the burgers were king today — that was the biggest focus. Delaware is one of those states that had been forgotten by the DDD team. There is a great food scene emerging here. So it was a great time to highlight what was going on around here,” said Day.
At Local BBQ Post, Fieri watched carefully as the cooking team prepped for everything they serve. But his choice for sampling included their Chicken Salad and Smoke House Chili, which includes “just about everything we make.” Taping there actually started on Saturday, so the eatery was closed to the public for three days.
Kids from Cab Calloway, Charter dash to see Fieri at Maiale
When Fieri made his way up Lancaster Pike to Maiale Deli today, word spread quickly among students at Cab Calloway School of the Arts and Charter School of Wilmington, which is just across the street from the Cannery Shopping Center.
About 30 students and a few teachers, like Cab Calloway Special Ed instructor Cindy Williams, popped over and posed with Fieri in front of Walgreens. Even a few others jumped into the picture. “We all screamed, ‘DINERS, DRIVE-INS, and DIVES!'” said Del Tech Community College student Jennifer Valle. Jennifer showed up after one of her friends who works at the mortgage business in the Cannery spotted Fieri at Maiale. She added, “I am a huge fan of his show. This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing!”
Our 2015 survey, seeking your opinion on what restaurants Triple D should take for a test drive, garnered more than 3000 votes, and included, not surprisingly, several legendary local names at the top: Mrs. Robino’s, Claymont Steak Shop and Charcoal Pit, to name three.
A fourth-generation owner welcomes Fieri to Mrs. Robinos
Union Street’s Mrs. Robino’s played host to Fieri and his crew on Monday, an experience owner Andrea Wakefield – the great-granddaughter of the eatery’s founders – said was “an honor” although a bit nerve-wracking.
“I’m so excited, I just can’t believe it,” said Wakefield. “I’m just so happy we could do it … I know my great-grandparents and my grandmother would be so thrilled and honored.”
Wakefield said that Fieri picked two classic dishes that she and her brother and cousin then prepared and will be featured on the show. But Mrs. Robinos is sworn to secrecy about the specific menu items until the episode airs.
“He looked at the menu and decided what he wanted to have. He picked two items I would not have predicted but he loved them.”
Wakefield said she learned just over a week ago that the treasured Little Italy restaurant would be featured on the hit show, and she hustled to be prepared. Once on location, the Triple D crew moved some things around. “There were lights everywhere” Wakefield reported. “The crew was amazing and made us very comfortable.”
Fieri enjoyed reading up on the history of Mrs. Robinos, admiring accolades accrued over the years, the famous wall of photos, and he was impressed with the size of the old-school restaurant that seems to go on and on.
Wakefield said Fieri also interviewed several diners and his crew will come back today to capture some additional footage for the Delaware reel.
The Triple D whirlwind was all a “surreal” experience for Wakefield and her family. “Who would have thought in 1940 when my great grandmother opened this restaurant we would be on the Food Network’s most popular show – she’s probably smiling in heaven.”