How many times have you been watching a food/travel show – say Man v. Food, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, No Reservations and their ilk – and found yourself thinking, to borrow a phrase from Liz Lemon, I want to go to there? The great thing about those shows is that now you know where to get, say, the best barbecue brisket in Texas – but the problem is it’s in Texas. Unless your travel budget and vacation allotment are fairly extravagant, you won’t soon be noshing on whatever goodies Bourdain and Fieri have found this week.
That’s not true with Chef 2 Go, the local food/travel show starring chef/host Nick Rabar, which begins airing its third season on Cox Sports in May. As Rabar, the gregarious chef/owner of Avenue N in Rumford, points out, “This is a program you can watch and you can go to the place the next day.” The restaurants, food trucks, farms and businesses Rabar visits are all local, so you can actually eat the food he eats.
The show began as the next evolution of Stir It Up, the cooking show on which Rabar started as a guest and then became host. Chef 2 Go is more of a hybrid of travel and cooking shows, with forays out in the field (sometimes literally) followed by segments in the kitchen incorporating themes and ingredients from the day’s travels. This makes it unique among food shows, not just locally, but nationally as well. “There are not many – if any – shows out there where you go out into the streets, you gain a little knowledge, then you take that knowledge and experience back to the kitchen and create a dish based on that theme of the day,” says Rabar.
Season three will find the show focused on doing fewer segments that more cohesively tie together a theme. In the second episode, for example, the theme is The Sea: Rabar first heads out on the water with Local Catch, a group of local fishermen who text chefs with the day’s catch and then deliver it fresh to their doors, then follows the food to Cook and Brown Public House, which features Local Catch’s wares on its menu. That kind of storytelling is a point of pride for Rabar, who stresses that the show is not about promoting him or his restaurant, but rather “screaming the local businesses from the rooftops.” He’s bullish on the local food scene, and eager to share it with viewers, declaring, “Rhode Island’s local scene is the best in the country, and that’s one of the reasons why we have such pride in what we do.”