Food Network Canada To Feature Baja Café, BOCA Tacos, & Mother Hubbard's

By Kevin Baird
January 8, 2016

It’s only a matter of time before our neighbors in the great white north are salivating over some of Tucson’s culinary delights.

On Monday, Food Network Canada will begin filming for ‘You Gotta Eat Here,’ which features quirky Italian-foodie John Catucci, who visits a handful of restaurants each episode, eats great food, and schmoozes with the chefs and loyal restaurant patrons.

Nixey said the great thing about the show’s host is that Catucci isn’t a chef. She said his background is in comedy.

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“He’s not going in as an expert, he’s kind of going in as a stand in for you and I,” Nixey said.

Show writer and producer Sarah Nixey said Mother Hubbard’s, Baja Café, and BOCA Tacos y Tequila were chosen after months of exhausting research, by a Toronto-based team

“We dip down to the states in cities that are destination for Canadians. We like to go to places that are warm. First and foremost we’re looking for great food, and anything with a twist. We really like comfort food, places that are great for families,” Nixey said.

Oreo Pancakes at Baja Cafe
Oreo Pancakes at Baja Cafe (Credit: Baja Cafe)

Nixey and her team couldn’t have picked a better place to begin filming than Mother Hubbard’s. This a breakfast café makes all their bacon and sausage in-house, and puts a Native American twist on classic breakfast dishes, such as green chile and corn stuffed waffles (which can be drizzled in maple syrup for a powerful sweet and savory combination).

“It’s quite an honor,” said Mother Hubbard’s chef and owner, Kelzi Bartholomaei. “I think everyone in our staff has worked really hard without intending to get this kind of accolade. I’m a private person so the thought of going on television petrifies me. I definitely look forward to it though.”

Bartholomaei says what makes her café stand out from other breakfast joints is using, “food and techniques that are indigenous to the new world, and I think we have a unique menu from that point of view.”

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Dropping in on the set in hopes of being on television won’t work, Nixey said, because each of the restaurants will be closed on filming days. The owners have invited some of their most loyal guests to take part in filming.

After filming at Mother Hubbard’s on Monday and Tuesday, the show heads to Baja Café. 

Kim Scanlan of Baja Café said in a text that, “It is all just very exciting and I can’t put into words how much this means… as well as the ongoing support of the our most super awesome guests who support us, no matter what.”

Pescado Taco at Boca (Credit: Adam Lehrman)
Pescado Taco at Boca (Credit: Adam Lehrman)

Summing up why her café deserves TV spotlight is difficult, said Scanlan.

“We are genuine, honest, not pretentious, all we want is for those who choose to visit us to leave feeling happier that they had a meal cooked from scratch by a chef and team committed to cooking quality food at an affordable price.”

Nixey said the show will take a break over the weekend and finish filming in Tucson Jan. 17 and 18 at BOCA Tacos.

Sean McCartney, a University of Arizona employee that frequents the BOCA Tacos, said he isn’t surprised Food Network is visiting BOCA.

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“This place definitely represents a southern Arizona taco style well, and you can’t find tacos like this anywhere else,” McCartney said.

Maria Mazon, chef and owner of BOCA Tacos, said, “Yes it’s a taco, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be elegant and classy, adding different textures, and colors.”

And with these elegant tacos (pink raspberry-habanero salsa looks very elegant on a fish taco, I think) Mazon hopes to make Tucson proud when the show visits her restaurant.

Huevos Rancheros at Mother Hubbard's (Credit: Mother Hubbard's)
Huevos Rancheros at Mother Hubbard's (Credit: Mother Hubbard's)

Nixey said season five of ‘You Gotta Eat Here’ will begin airing in the late spring, and the Tucson episodes will probably air in Canada in the fall. She said the season will also showcase world renowned cities such as Boston, London, Dublin, and Rome.

At the beginning of each episode, showhost John Catucci says, “Listen, I’m no chef, but I know good food when I eat it, and these joints are cookin’ it right. And that’s why I’m telling you, you gotta eat here.”

That’s a heck of an endorsement.

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