American Diner Revival's Amanda Freitag and Ty Pennington Answer Fans' Questions in a Facebook Chat
In honor of the upcoming season of American Diner Revival, show hosts Chef Amanda Freitag and home improvement expert Ty Pennington gave the scoop on their new series in a recent Facebook chat with fans. On the show Amanda and Ty team up to renovate the interiors and revamp the menus of struggling diners in less than 36 hours. The hosts shared their favorite diner dishes and fun facts about their careers and answered questions about the goals and challenges of the show.
Lynda : Being a Jersey girl, diners hold some awesome memories for me. Do either of you have a favorite diner from your childhood? And also, why did you choose the diners you did for the show?
Amanda Freitag: For me, it's the Pilgrim Diner in Cedar Grove, N.J. I'm a Jersey girl too! I have a million memories [of] eating there from a young age. Many late nights and breakfasts were had!
Ty Pennington: Usually we get a plea from people that work there, or friends of the diner might reach out to us!
Elizabeth : What was the inspiration behind this show? I can't wait to watch it.
TP: I agree with Amanda. The diner is the center of the community, and I really love when you can work with a community that has one goal. You get two things: a challenge and, hopefully, a happy ending. And you're preserving a piece of Americana.
AF: Our goal was to rescue all-American diners around the country that were on the brink of extinction!
Carissa : What have either of you learned from going into these diners and reinventing them?
TP: I think sometimes we forget how warm the characters in a diner can be. You might not be able to find that on a menu, but it makes you feel like you're family, and that doesn't happen everywhere.
AF: I learned that at the heart of almost every restaurant is a family, whether blood-related or a team of people who become a family through that place. Diners have that "mom and pop" appeal, and that's something we really wanted to save.
Linda : Ty, what challenges have you had on this job, if any?
TP: Lack of time, lack of sleep, confined space, trying to fix something built in 1962, busted waterlines … I could go on and on. Plus unexpected challenges of working in a business.
Ricky : Hi, Amanda! What dish do you think every diner should have on the menu?
AF: Every diner has to have a burger on their menu. MUST!
Alicia : One of my favorite meals to order when I eat at diners is a hot turkey sandwich! Amanda, what is your most-favorite comfort food?
AF: Oh boy! This is tough. Mashed potatoes and gravy is pretty hardcore comfort food to me. I also love a big bowl of pasta ... and pizza too!
TP: The truth is, YES! My specialties are potatoes, mussels — the good stuff. I started cooking at age 8.
Kelly : Amanda, what is your favorite gourmet burger?
AF: I wouldn't say it's gourmet, but I am totally into making Juicy Lucys! You basically put cheese INSIDE of the burger patty. When you bite into it it's like lava, so be warned! I am still experimenting with different methods of making it.
Mark : What is your favorite "2 a.m. at the diner" story?
TP: The problem with remembering a 2 a.m. story at a diner ... well, that's why you're there and trying to eat your memory back.
Barbara : What is your favorite go-to food in a diner? Do you always get the same thing or try different things?
AF: I like trying different things, but I am kind of a sucker for breakfast for dinner, especially an omelet or a Happy Waitress (an open-faced egg sandwich with cheesy sauce all over!).
TP: Tough call — depends on the diner. Fried pickles (if you can find them), juicy burgers with jalapeno peppers, french fries with cheese and gravy. I also really love the breakfast — good seasoned home fries. And a good, pure and simple vanilla milkshake.
Culinary Adventures : How did you both start your food careers?
AF: I started in the front of the house as a busgirl and fell in love with food! I worked at a family friend's restaurant with my brother and would take any excuse to sneak around every corner of the kitchen. They eventually let me in the kitchen myself and the rest is history. I loved the whole idea of getting ready and prepping as a team, then going to battle together, high-fiving when it was all over, and doing it all again the next day.
Shirley : Tell us one thing you didn't know about each other.
TP: I didn't realize she's the kind of person that can take whatever you've got in your cabinets, whatever ingredients you have on hand, and turn them into something incredible.
AF: I didn't realize how much boundless energy Ty has! Also, his ability to fire up crowds and get people motivated is amazing.
TP: My interpretation is that a diner is the one of the oldest spots in town that generations of families have grown up eating in. It's an American icon. It's a comfortable place where you can get comfortable food.
Vicki : So Ty, when did you change from home makeovers to food makeovers? And how did you hook up with Amanda Freitag?
TP: I really enjoy food and cooking, and it's a creative outlet where people can put their heart and soul into something. When I heard about the opportunity to blend the renovation of a restaurant that's an American classic and at the same time experience how you can make over a menu by working with a chef like Amanda, I jumped at it. I thrive on challenges, and so American Diner Revival gave me the chance to up the ante to not just do a home, but do a business. You can't just tear down a business — you have to leave it running while you renovate. In the end, it's the same job I've always loved doing: bring people together and save a place that's an entire community's home ... and I also just love to eat!
Joseph : Ty! Of all the home improvement shows you've done, what makes American Diner Revival different for you on a personal level?
TP: It's a completely different challenge, and it's awesome, because the work that's done benefits an entire community. It's exciting because you're working with a business that doesn't just have to look pretty, but it has to work.
Keep up with Amanda and Ty by watching American Diner Revival on Friday nights at 10:30|9:30c.