For those of you who didn’t catch word on the FB. we were whisked away to Philadelphia last week for a whirlwind two-day TV promo shoot to sell to a major Cable TV network! Although we cant tell you which cable channel, nor can we tell you whether or not its going to ferment into something serious (if only we knew!) we can tell you what it was like to be followed by cameras for two days and to have every word out of your mouth and every bite out of your sandwich be captured for posterity.
It was weird. It was awesome. It was stressful. And it was a lot of work. Tuesday night, Mark, Gideon, Jonah and I drove down to Philly and checked into our hotel, the swanky Westin Philadelphia. We went out for dinner, talked about what the shoot was going to be like, and whether or not we’d have to “ham up” our characters for the cameras. After some tequila shots and beer chasers, we met with our producer, Sandra. Sandra prepped us that what she wanted to capture on camera was our individual, original, organic personalities, both solo and sparring with each other. That, and our apparent love for food. This was going to be a breeze, right?
Wrong. 5am wakeup and 6am the wheels were rolling. First thing we hit was the world-famous Geno’s Steaks, so we can talk about how the cheesesteak in Philly is world famous, but . . . “the Levys’ are gonna take you to where the locals eat!” In freezing weather this line was repeated about a dozen times, while Mark Gid and Jonah are yammering in the background about how good a cheesesteak is gonna taste at 6:30 in the morn. So of course we bought one.
Next stop, our first real shot was at John’s Roast Pork, a dockside institution since 1930. They keep day laborer hours, so its Mon-Fri, 6am-3pm. We were under the direction of Boo Messick, a 4th generation Philly Sandwich Superstar, and with her help we made, then promptly ate, a Scrapple, Egg & Cheese hoagie; a Roast Pork, spinach & sharp provolone hoagie; and a Cheesesteak hoagie. That and we learned how the Roast Pork is made, from raw to spiced to roasted to sliced to soaked to hoagie’d. It was most excellent and most delicious. And the girls at John’s are total sweethearts.
After John’s, we went to the Reading Terminal Market for some fried oysters, pepper hash and chicken salad, courtesy of Rob Swinton, the legendary 40-year veteran of the grill at Pearl’s Oyster Bar. Rob started working at Pearls as a 12 year old, washing dishes. He made his way up the proverbial diner ladder and now makes a mean fried oyster and a Philly specialty called pepper hash. Mark was very excited to try out this pepper hash, thinking it a weird mashup of eggs, peppers and potatoes, when all it turned out to be was a cabbage, pepper and vinegar coleslaw. Tasty though. Just not what we were expecting.
After Pearls, we boogied to The Memphis Tap Room, a real hip joint with delicious micro-brewed beers on tap and Jesse, a serious whiz kid working the kitchen. He showed how to make his newest creation, a smoked porter brined beef brisket, with caramelized carrots, sharp cheddar and beer gravy on a brioche roll. This was gonna get paired with a local beer by Victory Brewing Comnpany, their immaculate Storm King Stout, a serious heavy smoky beast of a beer. We wrapped up around 6pm, and were stone cold unconscious a few hours later.
Thursday was a much lighter shooting sched, with a 7am wakeup for an 8am call. No food shoots for Thursday, instead we filmed our impressions of Philly in a park with the skyline behind us, below-50 degrees out (guess who didnt dress for the cold!?) and us playing frisbee, and arguing with each other (natch.) Then we made it to another hotel, and setup for one-on-one camera line replays. Basically if Sandra liked a line but didnt think that it was said with enough gusto, she wanted to repeated for audio’s sake. That and some reaction shots that will splice well into the segment. Another dinner (Vietnamese, off camera) and 2 full days of Philly had us Levy guys clamoring for home. 2+ hours later, we were snug in Brooklyn beds.
So do we get our own tv show? Will the world learn about the Levys’ and their ability to eat everything as well as talk about everything? More importantly, will the Levys boys be able to eat and talk at the same time? WITH THEIR MOUTHS FULL?!? Stay tuned to find out!
By Matt Levy