Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives has figured out how to make all kinds of food look good. But they didn't have to try very hard on last night's episode entitled "Family Joints," as Todd Schulte of Happy Gillis kicked off the show by making dishes that have bringing in customers since the sandwich shop opened in 2008.
"That's rock star," said host Guy Fieri after a bite of the flank steak marinated in Coca-Cola. The praise doesn't get any higher from the man that stopped through Kansas City last year on his rock and roll, culinary road show. Schulte's hand-crafted sandwiches had the exuberant host eating as much as talking, which is a rarity on the show.
Fieri started the segment by describing Happy Gillis as "a breakfast and sandwich shop that is anything but old school." With a quick picture of Gillis Sundries, the show launched into an expansive piece on Happy Gillis' menu.
Schulte then demonstrated how he made the flank stank sandwich -- currently a red wine braised version is available with arugula, pickled red onion and horseradish sauce -- along with his addictive posole with chicken.
The food wasn't the only star of the episode. Although he wasn't named, I'm fairly certain one of the diners interviewed was Bill Haw, CEO of Kansas City's National Farms, and one of the heavy hitters in the West Bottoms (his office is in the Stockyard Building). With Happy Gillis still exploring restaurant options in the West Bottoms, it's a great sign that he's apparently a fan.
The episode also featured Kramarczuk's in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where I repeatedly learned that they make "Eastern European food." If you don't know exactly what that means, neither did I. It apparently translates to 10,000 pounds of sausage made by hand every week. In this case, the old axiom doesn't hold true. It was fascinating to watch the oversized grinder at work and discover that ice cubes are the key to making good sausage.
The final piece featured fans of the show visiting their 100th restaurant (of the 400 that have been featured) with a trip to HillBilly Hot Dogs in Lesage, West Virginia. The roadside spot's claim to fame is a 15-inch hot dog called the Homewrecker, which nets you a free t-shirt if you can eat it in 12 minutes. I think I'll stick with the Happy Weiner hot dog cart from Happy Gillis, thank you.
The Family Joints episode re-airs on September 10 at 8 p.m., September 11 at 11 p.m., and September 12 at 2 p.m.