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Pittsburgh features on Food Network’s “Ginormous Food” on Friday and proves why it’s a ginormous-worthy city.
In the 8 p.m. episode titled “Pittsburgh: Bacon and Burger Bonanza,” Josh Denny stops by Emporio, Primanti Bros. and Bakn to get massive helpings of sandwiches and a taco.
Downtown’s Emporio crafted The Six Pack, which the Food Network website describes as “a gut-busting sandwich made from a full loaf of ciabatta packed with half a dozen huge meatballs.” Primanti’s flagship Strip District location came up with the Triple Pitts-Burger, a triple-size sandwich with the usual coleslaw and fries as well as a triple-size serving of capicola and three fried eggs. And Bakn in Carnegie cooked up the Bakn Quake — three 20-inch tacos stuffed with fried eggs, cheddar and seven types of bacon, drizzled with maple syrup and folded over like tacos.
Emporio’s marketing director, Jesse Ament, said the film crew spent about 12 hours at the restaurant on a late April day, with Mr. Denny helping out in the kitchen and later sharing the completed jumbo-size meatball sandwich with restaurant guests. Adding to the party atmosphere, a hockey stick autographed by Pittsburgh Penguin Bryan Rust was raffled off.
Primanti’s, which often gets chosen for these sorts of shows for its fries-and-slaw-topped sandwiches, was another stop.
“The publicity we get from these shows is so great,” said senior marketing coordinator Amy Smith. “They always air [the shows] 12,000 times afterward.”
Filming at Primanti’s took place on a Monday as it’s usually not a full house. Restaurant employees invited friends and family to join the walk-in crowd to fill the restaurant. The film crew did several interviews, and “there was no shortage of people who wanted to talk about the first time they ate a Primanti’s sandwich and how late at night it was,” Ms. Smith said. When the kitchen staff brought out the final ginormous sandwich, everyone cheered, she said.
The Triple Pitts-Burger isn’t on the standard Primanti’s menu, but it could be made for a customer if someone asked for it, Ms. Smith said.
When the Food Network contacted chef Randy Tozzie of Bakn, it was decided that a play on the restaurant’s Bakn Cake Tacos would be a good showcase of Bakn’s food. But the Food Network opted to call the creation Bakn Quake instead of Bakn Cake, going for a name to match the size.
Mr. Tozzie had to buy a pizza turner because his usual spatula wasn’t going to cut it for a 20-inch pancake that was the base for the taco. His test runs took up most of the restaurant’s griddle, which made it tough to keep serving customers simultaneously, he said.
Mr. Tozzie, a second-career chef, owns Bakn with his fiancee, Susan McMahon, a cosmetic dentist who manages social media and other operations for the restaurant. They recently opened Mac & Toz Alehouse in Bridgeville.
“I tested the giant pancakes for a couple of days when Food Network first called, I was just so jazzed,” Mr. Tozzie said. He couldn’t let the cat out of the bag until the filming was confirmed, so he told the Bakn staff he was testing a new menu item. Even after it was definite, Bakn was allowed to tell customers that Food Network was coming in order to draw a crowd for the filming, but the staff couldn’t specify which show.
The final giant taco for TV was filled with a dozen eggs, a pound of cheddar and four pounds of bacon, Mr. Tozzie said.
Of the three restaurants, Bakn is the only one planning a screening party for the premiere episode. It will feature food and drink specials, including appetizers, margaritas and, of course, Bakn Cake Tacos — of normal size.
After the premiere episode on Friday, Food Network will repeat airings of “Pittsburgh: Bacon and Burger Bonanza” at 3 a.m. on Saturday; 8:30 p.m. on June 30; and 3:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. on July 1.
Other cities that have been featured on “Ginormous Food” this season have been Columbia and Charleston in South Carolina, Jacksonville, Fla., Atlanta and Las Vegas.
No tickets are needed for Bakn’s screening party. Simply show up around 8 p.m. Friday, if you want to join in the fun. Call 412-275-3637 or go to eatbakn.com for more information.
Rebecca Sodergren: firstname.lastname@example.org; @pgfoodevents.