The handwritten sign posted on the front door of The Elegant Farmer said it all: Shooting Diners, Drive-ins & Dives. Open @ 5:30.” Inside, a few dozen people drank cokes and ice tea while waiting to play their parts for the cameras, which were shooting close-ups in the kitchen of chef/owner Mac Edwards at work.
The shoot on May 10 was B-roll footage, the third day Edwards and his restaurant staff spent with a production crew that showed up Monday morning for Fieri's arrival later in the day. “He comes in like a rock star,” said manager Leslee Pascal. “You don't meet him or rehearse ahead of time, because he wants the shoot to be fresh and off-the-cuff.”
It was a busy week for Fieri, who was in Memphis with two production crews to film six area restaurants for his popular Food Network show. At Elegant Farmer, he sampled the restaurant's Sloppy Joe, Banh-Mi sandwich, and Mississippi catfish with smoked tomato broth. He also visited Rizzo's Diner downtown where chef Michael Patrick made chorizo meatloaf and lobster pronto pups, and Chris Lee's Memphis Street Cafe in Hernando. Ironically, both Patrick and Lee worked with Edwards when he owned McEwen's on Monroe in downtown Memphis. Fieri also filmed at South of Beale, Three Angels Diner and Memphis Barbecue Company in Horn Lake, Mississippi.
Edwards was enthusiastic about the upcoming exposure of Memphis food on national television. “Six different episodes will feature Memphis-area restaurants,” he said. “It's fantastic for everybody.”
Although exact dates for the shows aren't set, the episodes should air in about two months.