Blue Mermaid owners Scott Logan, far left, and Karen Logan, far right, and Executive Chef Rob Walker spend some time with Food Network star and chef Rachael Ray on Thursday in Portsmouth.
Photo courtesy Portsmouth Magazine
Food star Rachael Ray films in city By Adam Leech
PORTSMOUTH – Food Network headliner Rachael Ray was in Portsmouth Thursday, tasting some of the local cuisine and dining atmosphere of some local restaurants for an upcoming edition of “Rachel Ray’s Tasty Travels.”
The Blue Mermaid, Jumpin’ Jay’s Fish Cafe and the Muddy River Smokehouse are all expected to be featured on the show, which will focus on eateries along Route 1A in New England.
Of the local restaurants, the Blue Mermaid was the only one that Ray actually visited. At Jumpin Jay’s and Muddy River, camera crews filmed for approximately two hours for the show. Ray will voice over the footage.
Karen Logan, co-owner of the Blue Mermaid, said the visit was particularly exciting because of the tough year they’ve had with the Hilton being built next door.
“I told Rachael she was my light at the end of the tunnel,” said Logan. “She’s exactly how she is on the show – very personable and friendly and very knowledgeable of foods.”
Ray was served a spinach salad, plantain-encrusted grouper and guava-braised beef short ribs. And the review?
Executive Chef Stephen Reno Diehl of Jumpin Jay’s Fish Cafe’ cooks for Rachael Ray’s cameraman, Forrest Stangel, on Thursday.
Photo by Deb Cram
“She loved it!” said Logan. “She said we didn’t charge enough for the food.”
The production team couldn’t say exactly when the show would air, but Logan said they indicated it would be sometime in August.
At Jumpin’ Jay’s, Chef Stephen Diehl prepared a variety of seafood dishes under the watchful view of Food Network cameramen. Taping of the show required two sets of camera crews that started in Portland, Maine, and traveled south with the eventual destination of Rhode Island.
The cameramen said they only get Ray for a couple of days because “she’s what you call a busy woman.” Ray stars in three other Food Network shows and also has published a variety of cookbooks and a monthly magazine.
“Everywhere we go, it’s ‘Is Rachael coming? Is Rachael coming?’” said Brian Daigle, a production assistant with the crew. “They don’t want crowds of people everywhere because they want her in her natural environment.”
“Tasty Travels” airs at 9:30 p.m. on Friday nights on the Food Network, where Ray reveals insider tips and travel secrets to find the best food for the best price.
Jay McSharry, owner of Jumpin’ Jay’s, said he was disappointed Ray couldn’t make it to his restaurant, but he said he’s honored to be part of her show.
“I think it’s great. I think Rachael Ray is great. I think Portsmouth is long overdue to get publicity like this,” said McSharry. “It’s such a great city with a lot of great restaurants and the people here are extremely friendly.”
The camera crews were at Muddy River on Wednesday evening. Ray went to the Blue Mermaid for lunch, then the crew went to Jumpin’ Jay’s. Ray also appeared at the Oarweed, a seafood restaurant in Ogunquit, Maine, earlier this week and had been filming in the Kennebunk-Wells area.
Logan said Ray also told her she spent about $4,000 in downtown shops before going to the Blue Mermaid.
“I was ecstatic when I heard she was coming,” said Logan. “It was awesome.”
WATCH THE SHOW
“Rachael Ray’s Tasty Travels” airs at 9:30 p.m. on Friday nights on the Food Network. The episode featuring local restaurants including the Blue Mermaid, Jumpin’ Jay’s Fish Café and Muddy River Smokehouse is expected to air sometime in August.
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