Noah Cappe comes by his love of food naturally. The lanky Toronto actor (Bitten, Being Erica) is part of a large family that went on road trips to carnivals and is the guy who orders a second deep-dish pizza on a night out with friends. Cappe is therefore the perfect guide to the culinary craziness that is Carnival Eats.
Debuting Friday on Food Network, Cappe travelled across North America challenging his mouth (and waistline) with some of the most inventive and outlandish foods offered at country fairs and summer spectacles like Toronto’s Canadian National Exhibition.
“I stopped coming here in my 20s,” Cappe tells us from the CNE Food Building where cameras are rolling on an upcoming episode. “And then the deep-fried butter happened and people were going crazy. That was ground zero for popularity in the CNE food taking off.” Cappe and Alibi Entertainment staked out space at Fran’s Restaurant kiosk, where he was learning to construct the Thanksgiving Waffle, a savoury plate boasting turkey and gravy piled on top of a waffle made out of stuffing.
The iconic stop represented the last day of filming on a four-month journey for Cappe and the crew; 13 half-hour episodes represent Season 1 and showcased the Ohio State Fair, Miami Dade State Fair, Edmonton’s Klondike-Days Fair and the Calgary Stampede, to name a few. Friday’s debut spotlights Virginia Beach’s Pungo Strawberry Festival where Cappe samples strawberry shortcake and strawberry arugula pizza, and Guthrie’s ’89er Days Festival where he partakes in chocolate-dipped Belgian waffles on a stick and a breaded pork tenderloin sandwich so big the meat can be used to fan hot customers as they walk through the midway.
Cappe is able to combine his love of improvised conversation with a love of food and he’s not afraid to get dirty in the name of good television, talking to vendors with dollops of sauce on his face. And while the goal of Carnival Eats is to showcase the foods–outrageous (scorpion pizza!) and otherwise (deep-fried Oreo cookies!)–available for consumption at these fairs, it serves to celebrate the people who bring it to the masses.
“I think there is a misconception about carnival food,” Cappe explains. “These people have a lot of training and are incredibly passionate about what they do. They grew up doing this with their grandfather since they were 14 and it’s been in their family for 60 years.”
Carnival Eats airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on Food Network.