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Duluth Grill owner Tom Hanson shows Guy Fieri, host of "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives," how he makes his banana cream pie during the airing of the show Friday night. Hanson hosted a viewing party on the big screen at Clyde Iron Works. (Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com)

Duluth Grill meets Guy Fieri, Food Network

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Duluth Grill general manager Jeff Petcoff was pulling for the restaurant's banana cream pie to air on Friday's segment of "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives."

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"The best thing (during filming) was when Guy was trying the banana cream pie and he was actually blown away," Petcoff recalled before the premiere of the Duluth Grill's appearance on the Food Network's No. 1 program. "He commented that this was a winner, said the crust was fantastic -- I hope that's what they show. It just reaffirms all the hard work we do."

Petcoff wasn't disappointed.

The episode, which included the making of the pie, was viewed Friday night by several hundred people at a premiere party hosted by the restaurant's owners, Tom and Jaima Hanson, at the Clyde Iron Event Center.

Their son Louis Hanson, operations manager at the restaurant, said holding such a large event would only be possible at Clyde Iron.

When the episode began on the big screen, larger-than-life host Guy Fieri fawned over the pie's crust, not-too-sweet filling and the overall plated presentation.

He jokingly chided Tom Hanson for using a regular mixing bowl to make the crust, asking, "Why don't we do it in a mixer?"

Hanson just shrugged and smiled, saying, "That's how I was taught."

The from-scratch approach to cooking at the Duluth restaurant was lauded by Fieri, who described the pie as "pretty dynamite."

Also under Fieri's watchful eye, Tom Hanson made grass-fed bison pot roast with gravy that he called "on point."

Watching himself on the program alongside employees, regular customers, friends and relatives, Tom Hanson said the experience was overwhelming.

"My five minutes of fame," he commented.

A third item filmed for the show was the restaurant's signature pasty, which did not appear in the episode -- although the recipe can be found on the Food Network's website.

All three items from the menu were available for sampling at the party, including individual cream pies.

Regular customers Mary Engels, Linda Krug, Leslie Beiers and Lori Durant attended the party and were interviewed during filming. Before the show started they wondered if they'd make the episode's final cut or end up on the cutting-room floor.

"With this big screen, we're OK if we're not on the show," said Engels with a laugh. "We are just big fans (of the restaurant) and it's a little bit like it's our place."

As it turned out, their interview did not make it into the episode.

Arlene Coco, who supplies the restaurant with scones, also attended the party to show her support.

"I always say they're the hardest-working restaurant family in Duluth," she said. "This shows the fruits of their labors."

After the show ended, Louis Hanson said it was exciting to see his father on television.

"He was composed," he said. "I guess I'd say it's humbling to be recognized nationally. We're just a family restaurant."

Tom Hanson said now that the show has aired, he feels he must be more accountable to his customers.

"Before we could just fly under the radar," he said. "This is incredible."

Duluth Grill was one of five local restaurants visited by crews from the Food Network program last spring and summer. Episodes featuring At Sara's Table/Chester Creek Cafe, Northern Waters Smokehaus and Gordy's Hi-Hat have already aired. Another featuring Superior's Anchor Bar hasn't yet been broadcast.

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