I hope everyone is enjoying 2012, I know I am! 2011 was a wonderful year and I feel so blessed to have met so many incredible people and to have been a part of some pretty spectacular events. As you may or may not know, I bartend at EATS! American Grill in South Tampa a few nights a week. I have been there a little over a year and it is one of the best bartending jobs I have ever had. Not only are the staff and the owners like family, we have an amazing clientele that I adore. I featured EATS! in my blog back in July of 2010 before I was an employee. Every since my first meal there, I have been a fan of their menu which features American classics from around the country. On my first visit, I tried the Midwest BLT which consists of two fried green tomatoes, peppered bacon, lettuce, EATS! signature spicy sauce and is served on Texas Toast. Having always been a fan of a BLT, this sandwich truly won me over with its uniqueness and delicious flavor. The signature spicy sauce really gives the Midwest BLT that extra kick. Pair it with sweet potato fries and you will be in for a special treat. If you want to really spice things up, try it with “heat” which is a step up from the signature spicy sauce and includes ghost chilis, Habañero and ghost powder. You will be “en fuego.” In addition to the Midwest BLT, you can order heat on the Fried Pork Chop Sandwich, New York Buffalo Wings, or anything else you want to “heat up” on the menu.
Midewest BLT, photo courtesy of Robert Azmitia Photography
Right before Thanksgiving, EATS! was contacted by the Food Network about featuring a few of our spicy dishes on the popular program, Heat Seekers. When EATS! owner, Chris Rose, told me about the call from the Food Network, I about fainted. I am a Food Network junkie and Heat Seekers is one of my favorite programs. Hosted by Aarón Sanchez and Roger Mooking, Heat Seekers is one of the most exciting food/travel programs being aired today. Roger and Aarón travel the country in search of the hottest dishes served in restaurants. I have been a fan of Aarón Sanchez for years because of his mother, Zarela Martinez. Growing up in California, I have always had a deep love of Mexican food and Zarela was one of my influences. After seeing a few episodes of her public television series Zarela! La Cocina Veracruzana, I went out and bought her cookbook, Zarela’s Veracruz and to this day it is my go-to book for Mexican cuisine. I first learned of her son, Aarón , after reading about his restaurant Centrico, which is located in New York City, in an issue of InStyle Magazine. I was captivated by the pictures of the dishes, cocktails and decor and have been of fan of Aarón ever since. After seeing a few episodes of Heat Seekers, I immediately fell in love with the convivial personality of co-host Roger Mooking. The chemistry between these two guys is off the chain!
We got the call that we were selected and filming was scheduled for December 3rd. I was ecstatic. Excited to meet Aarón and Roger, I was unable to sleep the night before. As I walked in that morning for my usual Saturday morning bar shift, I had butterflies in my stomach. Cameras were everywhere and the excitement of the staff filled the air. I looked over and saw Roger Mooking and just had to go say hello to him. Nervous, I walked over to him, introduced myself and asked him how he liked Tampa. We ended up chatting for about twenty minutes and I gave him a bottle of my favorite hot sauce, Garlic Goodness, from my friend Michele Northrop’s Tampa-based company, Intensity Academy.
Before long, the fun began! Roger and Aarón gathered in the kitchen with Chris Rose and began dishing the heat as they talked with Chris about our fiery concoction.
Chris Rose, Roger Mooking and Aarón Sanchez heat things up in the kitchen at EATS!
Aarón and Roger had both the Midwest BLT and the Fried Pork Chop Sandwich with the heat. I think their tongues were on fire!
Midwest BLT with HEAT,photo courtesy of Robert Azmitia Photography
I made Roger a chocolate shake to cool off and then they both had our famous Fried Oreo Sundae. If you have not tried this, you are missing out! Vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, whip cream, cinnamon straws and fried Oreos, this is EATS! signature dessert.
Fried Oreo Sundae, photo courtesy of Robert Azmitia Photography
As filming progressed, Roger and Aarón selected customers in the restaurant and asked them if they wanted to see if they could take the heat. This lovely couple was wonderful and I hope to see them on the episode when it airs next month.
One of EATS! favorite customers, Juan Rivera, showed Aarón that he could take the heat and then explained to Aarón that Tampa is “Juan” hot city. Aarón enjoyed chatting with Juan and said he was “Juan” crazy dude. Watching Juan being filmed had me in tears from laughing so hard. (check out his Facebook page “Juan Million” Ways to Laugh)
Eats! customer Juan Rivera gets ready to take on the heat as Aarón Sanchez looks on
Michelle Glenn-Lashiew, another one of EATS! favorite customers, sat down with Roger and took the heat challenge. When I asked about the experience, Michelle said, “It was like being in Hollywood but felt like home!” I certainly agree with Michelle on that one!
Michelle takes the heat as Roger chats with her about her love of all things spicy
After filming was complete, Roger and Aarón posed for pictures with some of the staff. As you can see, they like to have fun!
Roger Mooking, Jonathan Sellers and Aarón Sanchez
Roger Mooking, Andrew Shaw and Aarón Sanchez
I, of course, had to get a picture with the boys. I have it framed in my kitchen. 🙂
Myself with Roger and Aarón....dream moment!
The episode of Heat Seekers featuring EATS! American Grill will air at 8pm on Monday, February 13th. EATS! will be hosting a viewing party that evening with specials and prizes. I am giving away a basket of “heat” filled with some sizzling items including gourmet hot sauces from Tampa’s own Intensity Academy, a copy of Aarón’s latest cookbook, a gift certificate to EATS! and many more spicy items. I will pick a winner on February 13th. To enter, simply do the following:
- Like the Facebook page for EATS! by clicking here.
- Like the Facebook page for Heat Seekers by clicking here.
- Like My Other City by the Bay on Facebook by clicking here.
- Follow EATS! on twitter @eatsamergrill
Comment once you have done each of the following and if you already like the above pages, comment that you do and you will be entered!
In closing, I spoke with one of EATS! amazing bartenders, Jillian Koepke, who attended the filming and experienced the spicy dishes first hand. Her experience truly sums up our day with Heat Seekers. Jillian stated, “It was truly a fun experience to have Heat Seekers check out our local neighborhood joint! Eats has great food and it was awesome to see a national show highlight their capabilities to spice up an old-fashioned favorite! Having the chance to be interviewed and try the SPICY MIDWEST BLT…brought tears to my eyes, LITERALLY, but in a very delicious ghost pepper way! I couldn’t imagine ordering it again without the extra bite!”
See you all February 13th at 8pm on Heat Seekers!