Catch Cook St. Paul on the Food Network Sept. 11


In January, producers from the Food Network's new show "I Hart Food" came to Cook St. Paul to film an episode. Above, restaurant owner Eddie Wu and the show's host Hannah Hart discuss one of the dishes they cooked. Marjorie Otto/Review

The show's host, Hannah Hart, is known for her YouTube series called "My Drunk Kitchen." After filming she chatted with some of the restaurant's patrons about their favorite dishes. Marjorie Otto/Review

Many community members came out to fill the restaurant while the filming took place. The episode featuring Cook St. Paul will air this Monday, Sept. 11, at 9 p.m. on the Food Network. Marjorie Otto/Review

"I Hart Food" is set to air its episode featuring Cook St. Paul, dubbed "Tater Tot-polis, Minnesota" this Monday, Sept. 11, at 9 p.m., with additional airtimes Sept. 12 at midnight and Sept. 16 at 5:30 p.m., all on the Food Network. Marjorie Otto/Review

Following January shoot, the episode finally airs

 

On a cold day eight months ago, the East Side’s Cook St. Paul was bustling with activity and packed to the brim. Word on the street was the restaurant was going to be on national TV.

A new cooking show from the Food Network, called “I Hart Food,” was set to film an episode at the restaurant and owner Eddie Wu put out a call on Facebook to fill the restaurant as the show filmed that January day.

Now, “I Hart Food” is set to air its episode featuring Cook St. Paul, dubbed “Tater Tot-polis, Minnesota” this Monday, Sept. 11, at 9 p.m., with additional airtimes Sept. 12 at midnight and Sept. 16 at 5:30 p.m., all on the Food Network.

In addition to Cook St. Paul, located at 1124 Payne Ave., other Twin Cities restaurants featured in the episode include the now-defunct HauteDish, Pimento Jamaican Kitchen and The Blue Barn.

“I Hart Food” is hosted by Hannah Hart, a self-made YouTube star best known for her YouTube show called “My Drunk Kitchen.”

This season the show will have six episodes including restaurants across the U.S with the general theme being “American comfort food with a twist.”

 

Filming day

Though filming was originally scheduled for Jan. 9, it was pushed back to Jan. 19 due to weather issues. Many Cook St. Paul regulars and diehard fans showed up both days, multiple times, for a chance to be on TV eating a meal at the restaurant.

Not only did the filming bring out those Cook St. Paul regulars and long-time East Siders, but it also attracted some younger fans of Hannah Hart’s YouTube show, as well.

The line for seating went out the door and visitors stretched their time as long as they could to sneak a peek of the filming magic, which ran 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Much of the filming took place in the kitchen, where owner and chef Wu showed Hart how to make some of his customers’ favorites like Mac & Chi — mac and cheese with kimchi. Cook St. Paul serves American food with Korean infusions, fulfilling the “comfort food with a twist” theme.

At the end of the day, Hart came out to interact with customers and shoot some final scenes. Some patrons were also interviewed and were asked what they liked about the restaurant and food.

Dave Bowles, director and producer of “I Hart Food,” said when he and his colleagues knew they were going to come to the Twin Cities, they started looking for highly rated restaurants that had the twist on food they were looking for. Cook St. Paul popped up multiple times in their research.

“The food looked amazing,” Bowles said, and they called up Wu to set up a time to film. 

 

Devoted customers

Sitting in the back of the restaurant with his infant twins, Jake Reilly explained he took part of the day off work to be at the restaurant during the filming. 

He’s been a fixture at Cook St. Paul since it opened more than three years ago. 

“He goes back to probably day one or day four,” Wu laughed, “so if you need to know anything about Cook ... [Reilly] probably knows more than I do.”

Reilly comes to the restaurant every Monday with the twins, Abe and Emmet, and will often come on the weekend with his wife.

“Eddie represents pretty much everything that is fantastic about small business owners in St. Paul, especially on the East Side,” Reilly said of Wu.

Reilly and his wife have lived in the area since they bought a house nearby, in 2011.

“[Wu] kept all the staff here from when it was Serlin’s, he gives back to the community, he really cares about the neighborhood,” Reilly said. “It’s also really good food that you really can’t get anywhere else.”

Reilly is such a devoted Cook St. Paul fan that he has a tattoo of the restaurant’s logo on his arm — it came about during one of the many pop-ups hosted at Cook, where chefs from other restaurants and eateries set up shop in the kitchen. 

During the six-hour pop-up, the restaurant told customers if they got a small tattoo of the logo during the event, at the neighboring Port and Starboard Tattoo and Piercing shop, they would receive one free meal each week for a year.

Reilly laughed saying the ink-job has really has paid for itself, especially after his kids showed up.

Partners John Michele and Barb Brown were there for the original film date, and were back again for the rescheduled date. They are both fans of Cook St. Paul’s eggs benedict, so neither were too upset about stopping by the restaurant a second time.

They said they not only frequent the place for the food, but also for the sense of community and Wu’s “altruistic spirit.”

Some of the day’s patron’s, such as Matt Hudson, didn’t know about the filming and were just looking for a filling breakfast.

“We were just in the neighborhood dropping the car off at the mechanic shop and said, ‘Well, where’s a good breakfast place around here?” Hudson said.

He and his girlfriend Mary Teske said they had no idea the filming was going on that day, but were familiar with Hannah Hart and her YouTube show.

“How random is that?” he quipped.

 

‘I’m just a guy who opened a restaurant.’

At the end of the day, when filming was wrapped and the crew had loaded up its gear, Wu sat down with a big sigh. 

“We’ve been preparing for this for a couple of weeks,” he said, explaining that he and his staff deep-cleaned the restaurant, even repainting the walls in the dining area. “Top to bottom, we made sure everything was clean as possible.”

Describing the preparation and the actual filming process, Wu said “it’s kind of an adrenaline rush.”

But he said he’s grounded by the community’s support, including all the people who came out both days.

“I’m still trying to wrap my head around it, you know?” Wu said. “I’m just a guy who opened a restaurant.”

“To see the amount of support that we get is better than anything. It’s phenomenal — it’s mind-blowing.”

 

Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at eastside@lillienews.com. Follow her on Twitter at @EastSideM_Otto


 

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