(Originally written June 27, 2014)
It’s Friday, which can only mean one thing: back-to-back new episodes of You Gotta Eat Here! When I first heard about the Food Network show, Canada’s answer to Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, I figured it had to be a pale imitation that could only thank CANCON regulations for its existence. But y’know what, I think I actually like our version better now, and not just because I can actually walk to some of the places I’ve seen on the show.
Put it this way: YGEH! host John Catucci is not the Canadian Guy Fieri…and that’s a good thing! Although I still watch his show–for the food–the bleach-blond broseph has been getting on my nerves lately, and not just because they brought my food to the wrong table at his American Kitchen and Bar. When an old episode of Triple-D comes on, ever notice how Guy wasn’t covered in awful-looking tattoos back in the day? And man, his catchphrases have become so cliche that even everyday diners on You Gotta Eat Here! are using them now. Hmm, I wonder if Food Network Canada owes him royalties for that…
But while Fieri spends more time hobnobbing with Kid Rock and the cast of Grown-Ups 2 (ever the arbiter of terrible taste) than he does helping in the kitchen, The Catooch, as he’s affectionately called, is not afraid to get his hands dirty. I must admit, I was entirely unfamiliar with the Canadian actor/comedian beforehand, previously best known for his role on the CBC children’s show The Doodlebops. But he’s won me over with his self-effacing humour, his kind and gentle demeanour…and most importantly, his equal love of plaid and food. When I watch the program, I think “Now there’s a guy who could eat as many hamburgers in one day as I can!” Or maybe not… 😉
In a nutshell, what makes Catucci so endearing to Canadian viewers is his utter Canadianness. Even the tagline “I’m not a chef, but I know great food when I eat it!” gives the impression that he’s not some overinflated, egotistical Texan, but just your ordinary, average Canuck, the kinda guy you’d like to have a beer with. And hey, although I don’t live in the area anymore, if John ever visits Puck ‘n Wings or Burrito Bandidos in The Annex, I wanna be in that episode! Dude, those wings are bananas, and bananas is goodTM!