In case you are unaware, let me be the first to tell you that the reality television world is not as glamorous as it appears on your television. There were no 6am calls for hair and makeup, roses for the winners, or sing off challenges, but I did endure the 3 hour wait for free food and the chance to be a part of Food Network’s Food Court Wars when production came to the capital city last month.
“Filming” began at 12:30pm on a very gloomy afternoon downtown at the Lansing City Market. After signing my life away agreeing to Food Network’s legal conditions, it was time to get the show on the road (or so I thought)! The next few hours were spent milling through the market making new friends in lines and lots of waiting around all while attempting to stay out of the way of the producers and all their electrical cords. Grand Grillin’ of Lansing provided some comic relief as local area children decked out in chicken hats ran around the market passing out tote bags. When it was finally time to taste some of the local cuisine, I was first in line to sample the famous Vicki Chicken. I chose the chicken pita with dried cranberries, romaine lettuce, feta cheese crumbles, and roasted pecans with a honey vinaigrette. It was beyond delicious and the Grillin’ Chicks could not have been more personable. They even offered to customize pitas despite the long line of people waiting.
Next, I decided to try out the chicks’ competition with Mark’s Gourmet Dogs of Eaton Rapids. My time in line flew by as the stand featured a hot dog mascot as well as free foam fingers to promote the dogs. Food samples included mini Coney Island dog appetizers as well as their main attraction; bratwurst in-between splits of a baked potato topped with mustard, sour cream, chives, and bacon! The dogs were a huge hit with the big eaters and children alike.
Not only was the food terrific, but the local spirit for the competition and community was very strong in the market that afternoon. It was exciting to see so many different people from the area supporting each other and helping to showcase how wonderful our capital city is. The competition was tough and I was feeling pretty grateful that I didn’t have to make the decision of who would win a year’s lease of rent in the Lansing Mall food court. I have a pretty good hunch of who I thought would win a brick and mortar location, but due to the aforementioned contract I signed with Food Network… I can’t offer any spoilers! However, you can catch the Food Network’s Food Court Wars episode featuring Grand Grillin and Mark’s Gourmet Dogs when it airs on May 28, 2014.
In the mean time, area connoisseurs can sample the restaurateurs’ creations at their local establishments and decide for yourself who makes the better dishes. Mark’s Gourmet Dogs can be found downtown Eaton Rapids on a variety of days throughout the week. You can find their exact location for the afternoon, as well as an up to date menu, by checking out their Facebook page . I’ve heard from some trusted sources that the Mac-a-Weenie and Chicago Dog are very popular. The Grand Grillin’ cart can be found around lunchtime in downtown Lansing near City Hall Tuesday through Thursday and at Sparrow’s St. Lawrence Campus on Mondays and Fridays. They can also be found at local events such as East Lansing Art Festival and Old Town’s Blues Fest. The grill promotes healthy snacking options as well as a variety of menu items featuring their famous gourmet chicken.
The highlight of my reality television experience was meeting Tyler Florence of Food Network while leaving the market after filming on Day 1! It made all my time waiting in line totally worth it and surprisingly, he was just as nice in person making sure to pose for ample photographs with market goers!