The Outer Banks can now be added to the list of locales visited by Guy Fieri and his team that produces one of the Food Network’s most popular shows, Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives. In addition to shooting at a half dozen OBX restaurants for the Triple D show, Guy came with 50 family members and friends in tow for a family reunion which was also featured as a one-hour Food Network special.
“Triple D is all about three things,” Guy explains in Food Network Magazine. “Food, story and character. We shine a light on places … which are run by people who love the same kind of food I love.” After a vetting process to ensure the featured restaurants met Guy’s criteria of being independent, locally owned joints with killer food made from scratch, the OBX Triple D schedule was completed and included six locally owned spots: The Black Pelican, The Outer Banks Brewing Station, Tortugas’ Lie Shellfish Bar & Grill, The Brine & Bottle, Ortega’z Southwestern Grill & Wine Bar, The Weeping Radish and Cravings Steaks & Seafood. Filming demanded that the restaurants close for business, and most took two or three days to shoot. And while all the filming took place during one of the busiest weeks in July, the restaurants’ segments have all been aired in separate episodes, premiering at various times between December and March with regularly scheduled repeat showings.
A Beach Road favorite, Tortuga’s Lie, was the latest to air this March, with owners Bob Sanders and Richard Welch showcasing their laid back yet intensely flavored Caribbean cuisine. Just down the Beach Road, born and bred local chef Jason Smith at The Black Pelican still had time to serve 600 dinner guests after shooting with Guy for the episode “Land and Sea,” which featured his Wanchese Fisherman’s Risotto and Citrus Rosemary Brined Chicken. The episode “Fully Focused” headed back to Nags Head where The Brine and Bottle’s Chef Andrew Donovan impressed Guy with his house made pickles, Soft Shell Crab Sandwich and Foie Gras with Peach Marmalade.
Across the sound on the mainland in Grandy, Uli Bennewitz of The Weeping Radish dazzled Guy with his high-tech butchery, making grass fed pastrami from scratch and handing it over to Chef Ken Fredrick to put the finishing touches on the “everything from scratch” Reuben sandwich. On the episode, “Matches Made in Heaven,” Guy created a playful rivalry between husband and wife chef/owners Marcello and Lisa Ortega of Ortega’z Southwestern Grille in Manteo, who switch off front and back of house duties every six months. With Lisa coming from the same Northern California part of town as Guy, Marcello didn’t stand a chance, especially after Lisa showcased her knife skills on the most beautiful fresh-off-the-Wanchese-docks blackfin tuna for her fish tacos. Cravings Steak & Seafood in Duck was a last-minute addition to the filming schedule. Pulling in to the gas station to which it is attached on his first moments in town, Guy was drawn to the location’s funky feel, Chef Scott Foster’s perfectly prepared Scallops with Lobster Sauce, and seafood steamer pots available at the drive thru. It was quickly added on one day’s notice to the schedule for a single Sunday shoot, foregoing the usual weeks of preparation needed for the Triple D production process.
The Outer Banks Brewing Station’s Chef Pok Choeichom was featured on both the Triple D shoot as well as Guy’s Family Reunion special, where he recreated recipes from one of the family’s favorite beach restaurants in Morehead City, serving the entire clan in the Brewing Station’s upstairs dining room. The family reunion show also showcased Guy enjoying such Outer Banks pastimes as crabbing on the sound and deep sea fishing.
While the Outer Banks has been recognized as one of the top family vacation destinations in the country, chances are strong this most recent national exposure will attract a whole new group of foodies from across the country. The show’s producers have a simple yet serious warning for the owners: be ready! Most restaurants see at least a 100 percent increase in volume after the show airs. And that impact has already been felt here even in the usually dormant Outer Banks off-season.“This has been the most significant impact on our business of any previous press,” says Uli Bennewitz of The Weeping Radish, comparing it to even a feature in The New York Times. “In fact, I think this is going to have a positive economic impact on the whole Outer Banks.”
Ben Sproul of the Outer Banks Restaurant Association, agrees, saying, “This helps validate what we all do every day—making the Outer Banks a nationally recognized culinary destination as well as being known for great beaches.”
Dan Lewis is chef/co-owner of Coastal Provisions, Coastal Cantina and Cravings, featured with chef/co-owner Scott Foster on Triple D episode “Far Out.”