READY FOR PRIME TIME
Thursday, 12 January 2012 11:07

Boulevard Diner general manager Marc Tsakiris (left) showed host Guy Fieri around during the Nov. 7 taping of Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives,” airing Jan. 30 on Food Network.

Local eatery to be featured on Food Network

by Nicole Rodman

The Boulevard Diner is ready for its close-up.
    On Monday, Jan. 30, at 10 p.m., the Merritt Boulevard-based Boulevard Diner will be featured on an episode of the hit Food Network television show “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.”
    Hosted by celebrity restaurateur Guy Fieri, the show travels across the United States, profiling unique eateries coast to coast.
    According to Marc Tsakiris, general manager of his family’s Boulevard Diner, the producers of “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” first heard about the Boulevard after being contacted by many Baltimore-based fans of the show.
    “The producer, Kate [Gibson], told me that customers had been e-mailing them and they were coming back to Baltimore,” Tsakiris noted in an email to The Eagle. “After some long phone conversations with her about our recipes, they decided to put the Boulevard on the show.”
    After reviewing some of the diner’s signature dishes, including sour beef and dumplings, with show researchers and producers, last October, Tsakiris got the news he had been waiting for — the Boulevard Diner would be featured on television.
    Given two weeks to prepare for the episode’s taping, the restaurant was a flurry of activity as staff members readied the diner for its  national debut.
    Taping of the Boulevard’s episode occured on Nov. 7 and 12, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
    For Tsakiris, who prepared dishes alongside host Guy Fieri in the episode, the experience was both exhausting and exhilirating.
    “Each day was fairly long with me preparing all of the dishes we would feature in various stages,” Tsakiris said.
    Recalling what it was like to work with Fieri, Tsakiris said that he was filled with a mixture of excitement and fear.
    “Guy came on [the Nov. 7] shoot .... Before he had arrived I heard someone say ‘Guy’s 15 minutes from the set.’ I was freaking out. You could feel the excitement from our employees and the show’s crew,’ he explained.
    Though he was nervous, Tsakiris noted that Fieri’s easygoing demeanor soon put him at ease.
    “You could see that it was a job to him, but he was still able to make it fun and exciting,” Tsakiris recalled, adding, “I was very nervous cooking in front of him as he peered over my shoulder, poking fun at me and trying to make me and everyone in the crew laugh. His personality set me at ease after about 20 minutes of meeting him. I think I could see myself hanging out with Guy, he reminded me of some close friends.”
    During the episode, Tsakaris and Fieri made a number of dishes, including the Diner’s well-known sour beef and dumplings as well as stuffed grapeleaves, created from a family recipe.
    After filming wrapped on Nov. 12, show producers told the diner’s staff that the show would air in approximately three to six months.    
    Last week, they received word that their episode will be shown on Food Network (Comcast channel 48; Verizon channel 164)  on Monday, Jan. 30, at 10 p.m.
    According to Tsakiris, the diner’s customers are just as excited about the episode as is the staff.
    “It feels a little like a great big accomplishment we can also share with our customers,” he said of the diner’s upcoming television debut. “You can see how proud they are being locals and regulars in our business to see the diner gain national attention. They are the main aspect of our business after all,  a lot of them [are] like family.”
    And, though he hopes that the restaurant’s exposure on the show leads to more business for the diner, Tsakiris is also hopeful that the episode will bring some much-needed positive attention to the town that has meant so much to him and his family.
    “I am most proud of getting Dundalk on the map in a positive light. Dundalk has a lot to offer. History, hard workers, great families, wonderful and talented people ... yet we are rarely in the media for anything positive,” Tsakiris explained.
    “My grandfather found the American dream in this town. I hope that the show will get some viewers to research Dundalk and see it’s fine qualities ... maybe even visit!”