Last week, I told you about the food reality show that blew though Wichita, but I only knew a few details.
Now, I have a few more, including information about where the second set of chefs was filming and about two celebrity judges who were in town.
From what I was able to piece together when I found half the show filming downtown, it follows two teams of chefs — one from the United States and one from England — as they race from town to town, cooking and participating in challenges.
Back on June 14, I found a team of five British chefs set up in the Kress building at Douglas and Broadway, selling muffaleta sandwiches, “meatloaf and mash,” shrimp, tilapia and chorizo gumbo, Boston cream pie and Key lime pie. Office workers and construction workers were filmed as they filed in and out, curious to see what was going on.
I heard that the American competitors were somewhere else in town, filming their part, but people in the know — including Go Wichita’s Ken Vandruff, who helped organize the visit for the film crew, weren’t talking. And on-site producers wouldn’t say anything. (One even flat-out denied that Jamie Oliver had anything to do with the show, a fib I disproved quickly with Google.)
This week, I received a call from Paula McLaughlin, a Brit-turned-Wichitan who had a whole lot of info about the other team in town that day.
McLaughlin is friends with Kim Fitts, owner of A Lil’ Bit of Britain at 633 N. Baltimore in Derby.
Several months ago, producers for the show called Fitts and asked her if she could round up 25 Brits in Wichita for filming. Fitts, who also hails from the U.K., spent weeks finding British friends and customers who wanted to be “on the telly.”
Later in the afternoon of the 14th, the group gathered at the Wichita Country Club, Fitts and McLaughlin said. The producers asked Fitts to bring saucers and teapots for a traditional high tea. The group waited for several hours before they were served traditional British dishes, some on red plates and some on blue. They were asked to judge which plate they preferred.
As they ate, they watched as two cooking celebrities — apparently the show’s judges — filmed scenes. One was Claire Robinson, host of Food Network’s “5 Ingredient Fix.” The other was Richard Corrigan, an Irish chef and cookbook author who’s famous in England for owning Bentley’s Oyster Bar and Grill and Corrigan’s Mayfair.
The group of Brits also were unable to learn much about the show, except that it would air in September. Several of them were unhappy with the way producers treated them, though. Fitts in particular felt slighted after having worked so hard to gather people and dishes for the event with little recognition or gratitude.
My theory, though unconfirmed, is that the American chefs were cooking British food for a British audience and that the British chefs were cooking American food for an American audience. We’ll see if I’m right when the show airs.
In the meantime, Fitts tells me that she’s closing up her shop, which is a British grocery that she opened about a year ago. But she’s not going out of business.
Instead, she’ll sell all the goods she has now from her home and will deliver them to customers. “I’ll basically be like your Schwan’s Man,” she said. “I’ll deliver door-to-door.” She’ll call her new business Lil’ Bit of Britain on Wheels.
The shop’s last day to be open is Saturday. Fitts’ dream is to buy a London-style taxi to use for her deliveries.
She hopes to have the delivery business and its website up by July 1. In the meantime, she can be reached by calling 316-260-7966.