by Maria Russo in Shows, January 29th, 2014
by Maria Russo in Shows, December 19th, 2012
When 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.”
by Sara Levine in View All Posts, October 22nd, 2010
When 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.”
- 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.