- Associated Press - Sunday, February 28, 2016

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) - Homeskillet is known locally for its quirkiness and its hefty helpings of comfort food, and soon Food Network Canada viewers will discover the restaurant.

A television crew from “You Gotta Eat Here!” was at the Bellingham eatery Friday, Feb. 19, shooting footage for an upcoming episode. The Canadian show is similar to its American cousin, “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” which highlights out-of-the way eateries with restaurateur Guy Fieri as host.

One big difference for “You Gotta Eat Here!” is the host is “a regular John,” joked John Catucci, whose background is comedy, not cooking.

It didn’t take Catucci long to realize he could have fun with the owners and staff at Homeskillet, which is at 521 Kentucky St. When he discovered the wild art and the Santa Claus doll in the fireplace, he immediately took to the good, fun vibe. Tina and Kirby White own the business.

“This place really stands out,” Catucci said, adding that he couldn’t recall past places he’s visited that are like Homeskillet. “This is an extension of their personality and is an attraction for those who don’t want a cookie-cutter place to eat.”

Tina White said they were approached by Lone Eagle Entertainment to do the segment. The Whites were up for it, even though it meant closing down their restaurant for two days. She didn’t know what to expect but was pleased at how nice the crew was during the setup and taping.

“They’ve been awesome,” White said as she was setting up for the next scene.

Filming included shots of Kirby White working in the kitchen and regular customers brought in for a Homeskillet lunch. Field producer Sarah Cutts-Rosen chatted with the customers, reminding them to just be themselves and to not look at the cameras while they were served a variety of dishes. Items on the menu include Hot Green Mess, Ground Cluck Burger and the Catty Melt Insanity Burger.

“From the moment we saw Kirby and Tina, we knew this was going to be a great shoot,” said Cutts-Rosen. “They are so relaxed and efficient.”

This is the fourth year in business for Homeskillet, and Kirby White said they’ve been overwhelmed by the response it has received. He thinks that along with the food, many customers enjoy the banter with the staff, with many sitting at the bar knowing they will get some good-natured ribbing with their meals.

The restaurant will be adding an outdoor mimosa garden and takeout window this spring, but Kirby said they have no plans to expand the small building.

“We like the people who like us being small,” Kirby said. “I think you lose something if you get bigger.”

An air date has not been scheduled for the episode that will feature Homeskillet. Season 5 was scheduled to start Feb. 26, so it’s expected to happen later this year. Food Network Canada is not typically available in the U.S., but the network does stream some of its episodes online at foodnetwork.ca.

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Information from: The Bellingham Herald, https://www.bellinghamherald.com


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