Restaurant Revisited: Dirty Laundry at Hillbillies Restaurant

by in Shows, January 29th, 2014

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleWhen Robert Irvine arrived in Murphys, Calif., to rescue Hillbillies Restaurant, he was forced to contend with not only a dingy dining space overrun with tchotchkes, but with struggling owner Jami Saul as well. Unconfident and unable to assert herself to her staff, she would often be talked down to by her employees, so it was up to Robert to teach her how to voice her opinion and stand up for herself. He and his Restaurant: Impossible team had just two days to work and a budget of only $10,000, but in true Irvine fashion, he delivered, reopening Hillbillies to a crowded house of eager customers. Read on below for the first exclusive interview with Jami to find out how her business is doing today.

“I do love the simplicity and clean feeling the new design brings to the restaurant,” Jami says of the transformed Hillbillies. “My favorite is the front entrance and the back wall of pallets. I think Lynn nailed the design for me.”

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Restaurant Revisited: Rising Sun Bistro

by in Shows, December 19th, 2012

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleWhen Robert Irvine arrived at Rising Sun Bistro in Kalispell, Mont., he learned that this French food-focused eatery was nearly $500,000 in debt. On top of that, it was being run by three owners, Jennifer Griffith, Peggy Kirby and Sally Racine Truscheit, who couldn’t put their strained relationship aside to effectively run the business. In just two days and with only $10,000, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team put new life into Rising Sun, adding fresh, authentic French offerings to their menu, revamping the interior design and working with Jennifer, Peggy and Sally to mend their partnership and begin to ease their debt. We checked in with Jennifer a few months after the renovation to find out how the restaurant is doing today.

Since the transformation, she tells us, sales at Rising Sun have increased nearly 27 percent and diners have been pleased with the updated French-inspired decor and communal table that Robert and his team created.

While Rising Sun is no longer serving breakfast, its dinner menu has stayed largely the same since Robert left. Jennifer says that they’ve added “a cod dish, pasta [and] boeuf bourguignon” to their list of offerings, but she notes that Robert’s “brie and caramel is a big seller.”

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10 Sweet Questions for Dessert First’s Anne Thornton

by in View All Posts, October 22nd, 2010
Anne Thornton's personal faves? Ice cream and anything salty-sweet.

Pastry chef Anne Thornton’s ridiculously delicious Salted Caramel Banana Pudding Pie (and fun, bubbly personality) caught the attention of many a guest — including a few top Food Network execs — at last year’s SWEET event at the NYC Wine & Food Festival. Now, one year later, Anne has joined the FN family with her very own show for the sweets-obsessed: Dessert First.

It’s a dream come true for Anne, who left a corporate career to pursue her passion for food. “I always thought, I’m going to go to culinary school when I retire,” she says. “Then I realized, you don’t have to wait until you retire to do what you like!”

Dessert First premieres this Sunday at noon. Before you tune in to watch Anne make festive Halloween treats (Couture Caramel Apples rolled in fun toppings like popcorn and peanut butter cups; spooky Red Velvet “Brains” Cupcakes), get to know our new pastry gal with 10 questions from the Dish.

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Food & Finance: Summer Entertaining

by in View All Posts, May 21st, 2009

We are just one day short of Memorial Day weekend (Hooray!), and I’m sure that many of you are thinking about breaking out the barbecue to enjoy the holiday with family and friends. Do you think that this year’s budget limits the menu to hot dogs and potato chips?

Well, I don’t mean to cast aspersions on those tried and true backyard favorites, but you’ll be happy to hear that you can provide an entertaining menu to satisfy all palates without blowing through your budget. Being a Food Network insider has allowed me to gather the best tips for feeding a crowd economically and deliciously.

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Food & Finance: Taking In and Dining Out

by in View All Posts, May 7th, 2009

I’m sure that some of you are surprised by this week’s topic. After all, this is a blog about saving money on food, and we all know that it’s cheaper to cook at home than it is to tote dinner home in a (recyclable) bag or go out to eat at a restaurant.

But everyone deserves to take a break without breaking the bank, and sometimes you just don’t feel like turning on the stove, striking up the grill or even reheating yesterday’s leftovers. Test out the tips below for saving on take out and restaurant visits – just in time for Mother’s Day.

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Food & Finance: Navigating the Supermarket

by in View All Posts, April 23rd, 2009

Most of us enter the supermarket with only the best of intentions. You have your list (If you don’t customarily bring a shopping list, do not take a cart or even step into the supermarket — return to the inaugural Food & Finance column immediately!). You have your cash. You’ve planned for a shopping expedition with the kids and have a backpack full of snacks, projects and distractions. And then you walk through the supermarket door and are confronted by the produce section. The beautiful gleaming grapes, strawberries and mangoes are beckoning. Peppers in a multitude of colors, lettuce, 10 varieties of mushrooms – fiscal prudence goes right out the window and you start filling those little plastic bags with everything in sight.

You’ve got to know the rules of the game in order to succeed. So here are my rules….

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Food & Finance – Kids Survival Guide

by in View All Posts, March 26th, 2009

Winter’s gone by the wayside (hopefully) and the great outdoors await – after you finish your grocery shopping. You’ve followed my tips and made a detailed list. You have your coupons and your cash. But you’ve also got a car full of kids with a knack for wreaking havoc on your financial prudence.

Each one wants a different cereal, ice cream, lunch snack and juice box. One is hungry, another tired and yet another needs to go to the bathroom. You just throw everything into the cart in an effort to emerge from the store with your sanity, but you are also vastly over budget, having broken the cardinal rule of sticking to your list.

The stress that frequently accompanies taking children on a trip to the supermarket often results in additional pounds on the hips and fewer dollars in the bank. But this does not have to be the case!

Roni’s tips for grocery shopping with kids

Food & Finance – Protein

by in View All Posts, March 13th, 2009

Hi there readers!  I’ve completely recovered from my hunger-induced mania at the warehouse club.  I still don’t know whether I’ll ever get through all of the crackers that I bought; so I keep a big stack on the counter to remind myself of the consequences of “shopping while starving.” ☺

Today I’m addressing protein –  beef, pork, chicken, fish – because protein is often the most expensive component of a meal. In these challenging economic times, you may think that you have to eliminate, or severely restrict your purchase of protein sources in order to stretch your food dollars.  Here are some tips to help you avoid having to make a choice between delicious meals(and good nutrition) and fiscal responsibility!

Continue for money-saving tips on protein.

Food & Finance – A rule to live by

by in View All Posts, February 26th, 2009


Hi readers! Two weeks have quickly gone by and it’s time for another food frugality pep talk. But this time I need one! You know, writing the food shopping rules and tips you read in this column is a lot easier than abiding by them 24/7. Last week I had a major setback.

What happened? I violated a personal rule. I hadn’t included this rule in my inaugural column about “How to Shop” but last week’s debacle made it clear to me that this tip must be shared right now, so here it is…

Click ahead for Roni’s vital shopping rule.