In June 2017, Food Network Canada made it official: they had cancelled You Gotta Eat Here! after five seasons. I, like many, was upset. It seemed like the series, with host John Catucci, could go on much, much longer.
But all is forgiven. This is 2019, and Catucci is back on Food Network Canada with a new series. Big Food Bucket List, from the same production company as YGEH, finds Catucci gamely travelling around sampling food and interacting with the folks who make and taste them. What sets Big Food Bucket List—bowing Friday with back-to-back episodes at 9 and 9:30 p.m. ET/PT—apart from his previous project? We asked Catucci.
Before we talk about Big Food Bucket List, let’s go back. I just want to get your reaction to You Gotta Eat Here’s cancellation.
John Catucci: You know what? It was mixed feelings. It was hard because I loved shooting the show, and I had an amazing crew, and the production company was fantastic. It was just nice to grow with everybody. So, that was definitely hard. There was part of me that was like, ‘OK, I could do with a little break. I could do with being home for a while.’ It had been five years of being on the road pretty steady. So, it was kind of like mixed emotions. I mean, definitely sad. I don’t think it hit me until a good maybe month after.
Big Food Bucket List is on Food Network. It’s starring you. It’s from Lone Eagle Entertainment. You’re eating food. What’s setting this apart from You Gotta Eat Here?
JC: The main thing is the style of restaurant that we’re hitting. On You Gotta Heat Here, we were doing a lot of diner stuff and Mom and Pop shops. We’re still doing the Mom and Pop stuff. That exists. But the restaurants are elevated a little bit. On You Gotta Eat Here, we never talked about the idea of having a farm-to-table kind of place. It’s just like, ‘No, no, no, we’re going to do burgers.’ We’re really celebrating that food, or celebrating a lot of farm-to-table restaurants, and celebrating restaurants that are doing really unique and interesting dishes. If the restaurant makes a sandwich that is completely out of this world, that’s the thing we’re going to go for. Is that dish something you want to knock off your bucket list.
We’re also travelling all across North America, so it opens up a different market for the show and for myself. It was pretty cool, man. It was pretty exciting. I forgot what it was like to start a new show because it happened such a long time ago. It was a lot of, ‘OK, what’s the show going to be? Do we like this? Do we not like this? We definitely don’t like this.’
The first two episodes are back-to-back, where you’re in Chicago and then Toronto. What are some of the cities that you go to?
JC: We’re going back to Vancouver and Calgary and Halifax. We’re bouncing all over the States, too. We’re going to Philadelphia, New Orleans, Austin, and we got to go to Lafayette. I went to Houston for the first time, St. Louis, San Diego. We got to go to San Diego and L.A., so that was pretty wild. San Diego was just like shooting right down the street from the ocean here. We’re like, ‘OK, we’re on a five-minute break, we’re just walking down to the ocean right now.’
Big Food Bucket List airs Fridays at 9 and 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada.
Image courtesy of Corus Entertainment.