G’day folks. The larrikin Aussie here. Well what a trip being part of a hugely popular TV show! I am very humbled.
When I left my home to travel the world I never thought I would be here writing this blog post! That said, let’s get down to business.
I get depressed when I look around at all the lifeless looking restaurants that have had no thought or love put into them. Rundown, boring, same food, etc. I want to see them change, because I want to see this industry grow. It kills me to see food being mishandled, disrespected and mistreated. We can’t just go throwing it on a plate and not think about where it came from and what went into the whole process.
This being said, it was an eye opening experience entering Hillbilly Heaven.
Undercover (I always wanted to be a spy)
So Amanda and I got briefed and handed our spy cams. You as viewers get to see some great close-ups of what’s happening at the table.
Amanda and I were both shocked at the appearance of the outside of the restaurant. Before we had even entered we new we had our work cut out for us! This was going to be one HELL of a ride. I hope you noticed the dryness of the proverbial mound of meat on the bun. It was as dry as a dead dingoes donga. This was the first thing I was going to address. You can’t serve dry BBQ.
Amanda and I both spent the entire time at the table sliding around like we were on an ice skating rink. The floor was so dirty and greasy that the chair would just slide away from the table mid bite!
Amanda was going to be very busy. She needed to rip apart what can only be described as a grease trap and turn it back into a dining room! But with her passion and talent she would make this place look amazing.
Cam Cooking For me
Okay, I was scared, let’s be honest. I take pride in my appearance and the state of my kitchen. After all we are serving food and we could kill someone if things are not properly maintained. So when Cam served up what can only be described as a T-rex size portion of meat my heart sank. Picking that thing up was one thing. Eating it was an entirely different story. I was worlds apart from what I had eaten during the stakeout. Why can’t he serve it like this all the time?
I mentioned to him that one of the reasons he was losing money was because he was putting wads of cash on the plates for the guests to take home with them. Step one was making Cam see what I was seeing.
Low Point Tour
Bringing in Cam to see the devastation of hurricane Igor was interesting. Cam bragged about how he had done a lot of the upkeep and little renos to the place. Like I said. Cam is clearly not that handy with a hammer. I gotta be honest, I was kind of excited by the whole thing. You could feel the pressure, not only of Cam thinking what have we done and can we finish it in time, but also by the realization that we had a lot to do and little time to do it. I love pressure!
You all know the drill with how these menu-grading talks work. I am going to give you a behind-the-scenes heads up. Cam and I came to a head. We had a massive argument. I now had a real challenge to make him see what I was trying to achieve. I had put myself deep in a hole and it was going to be a tough climb out.
It was important that I make Cam see that with the change of the resto the menu had to follow. With the work that Amanda was doing the options were now there to attract a bigger demographic. But the food had to speak the same words.
Salad, salad, salad. Just because it’s a BBQ joint does not mean you can’t have salad on there somewhere. It’s something different to cater to the people who don’t want 45678 pounds of meat on their plate. So I decided to invite Cam to come onto my truck and see what I do out of a tight space while serving a monster line up.
So first things first, I took Cam to get some beautiful fresh produce from the local farms to use as a salad of the truck. The guy thought garlic comes from a jar! This was going to be a challenge. We got to the truck to set up for a service while the line formed outside. And all the time I was putting the pressure on Cam. I wanted to make him sweat!
We got thumped. It was a busy service. Though edited to a short clip Cam spent the entire service on the truck and to my shock picked up the flow and was pumping along. And believe it or not, he was starting to see how a salad is an important option.
The food I put together for Cam was aimed at getting new customers. I love the cucumber salad. A crisp, sweet, pretty dish that’s easy to prep and bang out during the rush, just the fit for the all-new Hillbilly Heaven. And to my surprise Cam was starting to see where I was coming from. Though I was always wondering if he was just hamming it up. But nonetheless he loved the salad.
Cam really enjoyed the remake of the pulled pork. But he is stuck on serving big portions of meat. I tried!
So both Amanda and I were very nervous while we were waiting to get Cam to bring him in. We did not know what to expect from his reaction.
Amanda had done an amazing job; the restaurant looked brand new, a huge breath of fresh air. Now to get Cam to stick with my menu!
Cam loved the place. He spoke to us of his worries and told us that he was unsure if Amanda and I would not be able to come through with the goods. But he was happy with the result and was itching to get back into work and start serving some new customers.
- Restaurant Takeover: Behind the Scenes with Host Cheryl Torrenueva
- Restaurant Takeover Live Tweeting with Cheryl and Andrea
- Restaurant Takeover: Chef Andrea Nicholson Takes Us Behind the Scenes