It’s a mad, mad world for Mad Chef Café owner/chef Kevin Munroe and Shelley Bouchard, and now the entire country gets to know you have to eat there.
The Food Network Canada show You Gotta Eat Here!, hosted by comedian John Catucci, dropped by the downtown Courtenay eatery Wednesday and Thursday to film part of an episode, scheduled to air in the new year.
“It’s a tiny little restaurant in a cosy little town, and you get really great home-cooked, crazy meals,” explained Catucci during filming Thursday. “Kevin and Shelley are just beautiful people and Kevin is just this amazing chef and puts together stuff … just really yummy food.”
The show features Catucci on a quest to discover the best of Canada’s comfort food.
He visits places ranging from greasy joins to legendary restaurants to taste the food and get the story behind the food which has made them famous.
Although the show has frequented restaurants in Victoria, Nanaimo and Tofino, it has never been to the Comox Valley.
“This is my first time in Courtenay … it’s really nice. We honestly haven’t much time to see it…. but it’s just a great vibe,” Catucci commented to the Record. “It seems like a really great community, and the community really cares about the local places and they are really proud of it; you can see that in the conversations today.”
Entering its third season, the show has frequented restaurants from coast to coast, and Catucci said coming from a comedic — not food — background, his appreciation for everything culinary has developed over the course of the show.
“I think I’m a little more picky now. I hate that, but at the same time, I kind of like that. I think (the show) has ruined me for fast-food restaurants. When you’re a comic on the road, it’s really easy to go to those places because those restaurants are in every town. But it’s opened my eyes up to the mom-and-pop shops in every town.
“It’s those really unique little places that each city across Canada offers local food, local ingredients and just the vibe that you get in places like this. You can’t really find that in big box restaurants.”
Catucci said one change he has been noticing in doing the show is more restaurants are concerned where their ingredients come from.
“Places like here where there are a lot of local farms around and you can get a lot of local ingredients and that’s really cool. And knowing not only does the restaurant feel that’s important, but people are caring with the food they are eating.”
For more information about the show and past episodes, search You Gotta Eat Here on Facebook.