By Roger McKinney
BAXTER SPRINGS, Kan. — Cafe on the Route was in the Food Network spotlight Wednesday as chef Guy Fieri and crew rolled into town for a segment of his show, “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.”
The spiky-haired and tattooed Fieri spent time with Amy and chef Richard Senell, owners of the restaurant. He also mingled with customers at the restaurant at 1101 Military Ave., on Route 66.
For the segment, Richard Senell prepared apple smoked salmon, Aztec chicken, fried potato salad and smoked brisket with watermelon barbecue sauce.
Fieri said that though it’s his show, he doesn’t want to be the focus.
“The show is really supposed to be about the people,” he said.
Fieri said he was attracted by the restaurant’s eclectic menu, which he received by fax and decided he needed to check out. He said Richard Senell could be successful anywhere he chose.
“The chef is a chef’s chef,” Fieri said. “He’s got a clear understanding of the food.”
The location along the historic highway was another plus, Fieri said.
“You guys have got such a gift here,” he said. “It’s still so wholesome and rich and appreciated.”
Looking out the window, he said: “Just think of all the people who have passed through that intersection.”
Fieri said that on Tuesday, he had calf fries — testicles — at a restaurant in Vinita, Okla. He grimaced a bit and rolled his eyes when recalling the snack.
The owners said they were happy to have Fieri and his crew at their restaurant.
“It’s good stuff,” Amy Senell said. “Any chef’s dream is being on the Food Network.”
Richard Senell said it was a privilege to have someone of Fieri’s stature visit. He said it’s not just about the restaurant, but also about the appeal of Baxter Springs.
“It’s definitely something to hang our hat on,” he said.
Mayor Huey York, standing at the counter to pay for his meal, chatted with Fieri.
“I wish he could come back every day and draw a crowd,” York said.
Fieri said people should drive past chain restaurants and seek locally owned mom and pop eateries.
“We need to support our local restaurants,” he said. He said birthday parties, business deals and marriage proposals take place in locally owned eateries, and they’re part of the culture.
“I want people really to know that this is the backbone of American food,” Fieri said.
Fieri said he didn’t know when the segment might air. “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” airs at 9 p.m. Mondays and repeats several times each week.
“This is such a trip for a California dude,” Fieri said of his time in Kansas.
Bytes for bites
Guy Fieri last year won Food Network’s “The Next Food Network Star.” For more on Fieri, visit www.foodnetwork.com. For more about the restaurant, log on to www.cafeontheroute.com.
<img src="http://www.joplinglobeonline.com/images/zope/extra.gif" border=0>Food Network star films segment in Baxter Springs<font color="#ff0000"> w/ link to foodnetwork.com </font>
By Roger McKinney
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