Barberton is receiving national attention for its culinary culture – that is, its Barberton chicken tradition – on the new PBS television show “Roadfood: Discovering America One Dish at a Time.”
The new series, presented by television star Misha Collins, aims to rediscover America’s regional culture through its iconic dishes. Barberton’s Belgrade Gardens and White House Chicken, as well as DeVore’s Hopocan Gardens in Norton, are among the local restaurants Collins visited for the show’s sixth episode, available now on PBS Passport.
The 30-minute episode of Barberton, featuring the roots of Serbian fried chicken, will air locally on WVIZ Channel 25 at 11am on February 12 and is expected to air sometime in March on Channels 45. / 49 of WNEO / WEAO.
In his latest television adventure, Collins, who played the angel Castiel on the CW’s “Supernatural” for 12 years, explores the roots of a uniquely American dish in every episode of “Roadfood.” You’re taking on the role of food journalists Jane and Michael Stern, who scoured the United States beginning in the 1970s in search of everyday regional cuisine for their “Roadfood” books, columns, and website, which included writing about fried chicken al Barberton style.
For Collins’ visit to Barberton, which was filmed over two days in October, he learned about the history of Serbian fried chicken from Milos Papich, the third-generation owner of Barberton’s Belgrade Gardens.
The episode features a photo of Papich’s grandparents, Manojlo “Mike” and Smilka Topalsky, Serbian immigrants who founded Belgrade Gardens in 1933. The restaurant was the first to serve Serbian-style fried chicken in Barberton, which would later become known as the capital of fried chicken. of the world with its proliferation of restaurants that serve the dish.
Papich said Collins also spoke extensively with his parents, Sophia, 90, and Kosta Papich, 92, who ran the family business for more than 50 years.
“At a time when we serve up to 30,000 meals a week to all of us,” Barberton chicken restaurants in their 1970s heyday, Papich said by phone last month, expanding on a comment he made on the episode “Roadfood “.
On the show, he talked to Collins about how the Barberton chicken is so wet.
“We cook at a very low temperature. It seals all the natural juiciness of a very young bird, so when you taste it, it is very succulent, very moist,” says Papich.
“That might be the best fried chicken I’ve ever had, honestly,” Collins responds after tasting the chicken.
To preview the episode, check out https://roadfood.com/tv/extras/sneak-peak-of-roadfood/.
On the show, Collins asks about the hot rice (or hot sauce) that he just dipped his chicken in. Papich says it is a traditional recipe that his grandmother learned from her mother and that her mother learned from her mother in Serbia.
“That’s so delicious,” Collins said. “It’s a delicious combination of flavors and textures.”
Papich, 59, said by phone that the Belgrade Garden Hot Sauce, which contains tomatoes, onions and spices, adds rice only as a thickening agent.
The restaurateur said he enjoyed working on the television episode with Collins and his team, which included 10 young professionals from around the country.
“It was a blast,” Papich said of the filming.
Collins himself was very kind to all his “Supernatural” fans who asked for autographs and selfies.
“It was very nice to talk to him, very easy to talk to him,” Papich said of the presenter, who spent about two hours filming at the restaurant.
The episode shows Papich and Collins together in the kitchen, with the staff stirring hot sauce in a huge skillet and Papich showing how his restaurant’s chicken is slowly fried on a low heat. Behind the scenes, Collins also enjoyed trying homemade paprikash dumplings, Papich said.
Papich, whose restaurant was featured in Barberton’s White House Chicken “Food Feuds” with Michael Symon on the Food Network in 2010, said it’s great that PBS’s “Roadfood” is putting Barberton back in the national spotlight.
“I think this is a wonderful opportunity for us and for other companies and for the city as a whole,” said Papich.
For the October shoot, when Collins visited DeVore’s Hopocan Gardens in Norton, owner Brian Canale attended him along with local celebrity Steve Brookens, a former wrestler who is the host of Barberton Speedway.
Canale talked about the 20,000 factory jobs Barberton used to have, and how those workers frequented various Barberton chicken restaurants over the years.
“Generationally, they would come to buy Barberton chicken on Sunday,” said Canale, 62.
Canale, third-generation owner of Hopocan Gardens and also owner of White House Chicken, said by phone that his grandparents worked in Belgrade Gardens back in the day, as did all the people who ended up opening their own Serbian chicken restaurants.
He, in fact, still has a Roadfood-approved decal on the front door of downtown White House Chicken, where the Sterns visited for their original Roadfood work years ago.
For the PBS “Roadshow,” Collins spoke with Canale and his father, William DeVore, 83. Canale showed Collins how Hopocan makes his chicken and how that breading turns into a skin for juicy, simmered chicken. and slow to 275 degrees. He, Collins and Brookens also shared a dinner.
“Delicious. It’s nice, spicy and very simple,” Collins said on the show.
Later, Collins got takeout at the White House Chicken facility for himself and his crew.
In Barberton’s episode “Roadside,” Collins explores Barberton’s flavor beyond his chicken. Talk to residents about the city’s rapid industrialization that brought European immigrants there in the early 1900s, as well as how the city, which has suffered a huge loss of manufacturing jobs, has had a changing political environment.
“Getting up by the boots is a community thing here,” Barberton Mayor William Judge told Collins on the air.
The TV host spoke to the crowd and soaked up the culture at Barberton Speedway, Coffee Pot, Ignite Brewing Company, Barberton Social Club, and the downtown farmers market, where he tried to get Judge to tell him which chicken place it was his favorite. Collins also saw polka dancers and accordionists at the Slovene Center, where he joined in polka dancing.
Restaurant and art writer Kerry Clawson can be reached at 330-996-3527 or email@example.com.