If sampling a locale's food isn't enjoyable enough, sharing the experience with your best friend can make it even better.
Chef Sammy DeMarco (alias "Sammy D") is doing just that, taking road trips with longtime pal and movie director Frank Coraci ("The Wedding Singer"), in Travel Channel's new Tuesday series "Chow Masters." In back-to-back episodes April 29, they sample macaroni and cheese in San Francisco and tacos in Austin, Texas, with the cook behind the version they judge to be the best of three receiving $10,000 and a Golden Skillet Award.
"I grew up in a Sicilian-Italian family," boisterous cook and restaurateur DeMarco tells Zap2it, "so I was never a stranger to food. It was always around and part of my life, and coming through my career and working in some high-end places, I always found myself going downtown and eating casual food late at night."
DeMarco eventually added some of those edibles to his own eateries in locales from Atlantic City, N.J., to Australia. "It wasn't re-creating the wheel," he says, "but food that people crave, and that really is comfort food ... the stuff after you're done doing something else. People relate to it."
What became "Chow Masters" originally was pitched as a burger-centric program. "As we started filming, the show evolved," DeMarco reports. "With comfort food, there's so much more range. It's a wider opportunity to do more fun stuff."
Having Coraci ("my best friend since childhood") along only has added to the fun for DeMarco: "All of sudden, he's in my world and I'm in his. This is only good if you look over the table and say to someone, 'Hey, this is great, isn't it?'
"We did a lot of things together for the first time," notes DeMarco, "so it's really exciting to be getting on the road and experiencing things with him 40 years after I met him."
Photo/Video credit: Travel Channel