Last night was the premier of the Food Court Wars episode, on The Food Network, that was filmed in my hometown of Midland, Michigan. For those of you who have never seen the show, each week two teams battle to win a one-year lease for a restaurant space in a mall food court. Of course there are challenges, along with coaching sessions from host Tyler Florence. In the end, the teams open up their concept restaurants in the food court for a day. Whoever makes the most money wins the episode and the coveted lease.
I knew from Facebook posts by a local restaurant that the show was coming to the Midland Mall, but I didn’t realize exactly when. So unfortunately I didn’t make it to the mall on the days the contestants were competing. When the first episode of Food Court Wars aired the Midland Farmer’s Market began posting on Facebook that one of their vendors would be competing on the Midland Mall episode. That vendor was Melania Paser (in the blue skirt above) from The Pie’d Piper. I’ve been buying her delicious pies, treats and hot pepper jelly at local farmer’s markets for several years. I love stopping to talk with her and to see what kind of interesting pie flavors she’s offering like Fuzzy Navel or BlueBarb (blueberry/rhubarb). My husband prefers her spicy pie creations like apple with Red Hots candy and a mixed berry spiced with chile peppers. The tangy, sweet and spicy pepper jelly she offers is fabulous on sandwiches, especially BLTs. By the way, if you watched the show, the Chicken Shawarma prepared without the time constraints and pressure of the show is fabulous and very tasty.
The very first time I met Melania she was wearing a brightly colored dress and a headband with a tiny, Pied Piper style hat on it. As a writer I love observing people, collecting in my mind bits of interesting personalities and physical traits to use as inspiration for my writing. That little hat caught the attention of my writer side, but her warm personality is one of the reasons going to the farmer’s market is so much fun for me. I hope the brush with Food Network fame gives her career a huge boost!