By Mike Beitz, The Beacon Herald
Saturday, November 8, 2014 12:38:24 EST PM
You gotta eat at Anna Mae’s.
John Catucci says so.
The host of the award-winning Food Network Canada show You Gotta Eat Here was in Millbank this week with a television crew to film an episode entirely dedicated to the delectable desserts dished up at the popular Perth County bakery and restaurant.
Lights, cameras and sound equipment were installed in the bakery Tuesday for a segment on pies – specifically Dutch apple, pecan and pumpkin. And Wednesday, the scene shifted to the dining room to interview customers about just what makes them special.
“It was so much fun,” said Anna Mae’s assistant manager Amanda Herrfort of the two-day shoot. “Very stress free. Very easy. And the whole crew was great.”
The invitation to appear on You Gotta Eat Here came through back in March, and Herrfort said she didn’t hesitate for a second.
“I was super excited,” she said. “It was a real honour just to be considered for the show, and to actually make it on was even better.”
While she and bakery manager Sheila Bauman helped out behind the scenes this week, manager Janice Kropf walked Catucci through some of the finer points of piemaking – peeling the apples and making the crumb topping for the Dutch apple, peeling, steaming and smashing the pumpkins for the pumpkin pie, and, of course, making the dough.
Catucci, known for his on-air antics, even donned a frilly white apron for his bakery work.
That sense of humour helped ease any jitters that customers might have had about appearing on camera Wednesday, when filming moved to the dining room.
“Everyone was quite excited,” said Herrfort. “Some were a little nervous at first, but they got over that pretty quickly.”
While locals likely don’t need to be convinced that they “gotta eat” at Anna Mae’s, Herrfort said the show will hopefully whet the appetites of diners from further away for its unique Mennonite cooking and baking.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for us,” she said. “And we’re just honoured that they found us all the way out here in little Millbank.”
In fact, You Gotta Eat here director Jim Morrison, who won a Canadian Screen Award in March for his work on the show, has eaten at Anna Mae’s several times before, noted Herrfort.
Wednesday, he tweeted a photo of one of the restaurant’s most popular items – the broasted chicken.
“This is one of my favourite dishes in Canada,” he wrote.
The You Gotta Eat Here episode featuring Anna Mae’s will be shown on the Food Network Canada sometime in the spring.
It will be the second area eatery to be included on the show’s list of Canada’s best comfort food spots.
In the fall of 2011, Catucci and crew were in downtown Stratford to film a segment on Boomers Gourmet Fries.