The following segment aired on Lifetime Television. Joining the show was Bob Belvano, radio sports talk show host and sports analyst.
Host, David Jones: Hey everybody, welcome to the tailgate party. We appreciate you stopping by. You know, nothing says tailgating like the All American classic the hot dog, and to help us out on the grill today, he’s much more than just a grill master. He’s a local and National radio sports talk show host. He’s also a sports analyst and today he’s grilling up a mean hot dog. Bob Belvano, how are you doing, Bob?
Bob Belvano: David, I’m happy to be here. I’ll tell you, you don’t have to be a grill master to make these hot dogs delicious, I’ll tell you that.
David: They smell fantastic, but isn’t a hot dog a hot dog, my friend?
Bob Belvano: You would be wrong there. If you went to, say, Texas, and ordered a hot dog, you would get a completely different animal than you would get in Chicago. And don’t even get me started on Pittsburgh. They are all very, very different.
David: Now these particular hot dogs, I believe are from New York, am I right?
Bob Belvano: These are the ones I was raised on. Anybody in New York knows a Nathan’s Famous Nathan’s hot dogs. And if you can see there’s two different types of hot dogs on the grill. The longer ones are the ones in their natural casing; those are the ones you get in New York. The skinless hot dogs, the shorter ones, while very good, are not really the ones you’ll get in New York.
David: They smell fantastic. Now, you said Nathan’s. Are these the hot dogs that we see being shoveled in people’s mouths during the contest?
Bob Belvano: Yes they are. In fact, that’s kind of how they got their start. In 1916, Nathan Anwerker, a polish immigrant was selling these on Coney Island for a nickel a piece.
Bob Belvano: And there were a couple, I believe, legend has it anyway, there were four immigrants there trying to prove who was the most patriotic. Well, what better way to prove your patriotism than who can eat the most hot dogs.
David: I love it.
Bob Belvano: So that’s how the contest started, and of course it continues today. It’s an international phenomenon now. The contestants come from around the world and it just gets bigger and better every year.
David: Now, do you think grilling up is the way to go when cooking a hot dog?
Bob Belvano: Well, the great thing about hot dogs is that they’re so easy to make. You can boil them, you ban broil them, you can pan fry them in your kitchen, and you can even microwave them. But to answer your question, is this the best way, I don’t think there’s any question. When you cook it on the grill, outdoors on the grill, it doesn’t get any better than that.
David: OK, now you’re easy. You said you just like yours plain, naked, nothing on it, but there are so many people out there in different regions of the country that are very particular about their toppings. Can you walk us through the different toppings?
Bob Belvano: You’ll see they are quite a bit different, in fact, let’s start with my home dog if you will.
David: Right here?
Bob Belvano: The New York dog, that’s it.
David (Designing Spaces): OK.
Bob Belvano: You can see it is the hot dog in the natural casing, the longer hotdog, and the key to it is the topping that you put on it which takes a little preparation, Dave. It is tomato paste, corn syrup, corn starch, a little water, some salt to taste and you boil that and reduce it down till it thickens a little bit. You can’t go to a hot dog shop in New York that doesn’t have this kind of topping. It is a staple for New York hot dog eaters. You put mustard on top of that, and that is a New York delicacy.
Bob Belvano: Wow, this is serious. I mean you’ve got to be a hot dog lover to put that much work into it. Hey guys, here you go. Have a hot dog that’s from New York. Brought it all the way here.
Designing Spaces: OK, this is about a pound and a half, what the heck is this?
Bob Belvano: This is a Pittsburgh dog, and I’m told one of the reasons they did it this way is they didn’t want to bother with plates. You have a whole meal.
Designing Spaces: Why bother?
Bob Belvano: This is an eighteen inch hot dog. It’s a hoagie bun as you can see. Underneath there, there’s so much food in there I’m not even sure you can see it. The first topping is Cole slaw. There is Cole slaw at the base of that, then shredded lettuce, tomatoes and provolone cheese and that is a meal in a plate right there.
Designing Spaces: That is fantastic, you know what, we are going to need four or five people to handle this. Oh you’re perfect. Oh. They’re fighting over them. Bob, they’re fighting over the hot dogs.
Designing Spaces: OK, I recognize this one, Chicago.
Bob Belvano: I was going to say, that’s an easy one because of the poppy seed hot dog bun. But it’s also the ingredients and the way they are laid out that make it unique. It is, you can see, the skinless hotdog, the shorter hot dog here. But you’ve got tomatoes on one side; you’ve got sliced pickle on the other side.
Designing Spaces: Yep.
Bob Belvano: And then, I’ll let you in on a little secret. This is not really the Chicago relish. It’s green, but the Chicago relish is GREEN.
Designing Spaces: That’s like a neon relish.
Bob Belvano: It is a neon green. We’ve got the sport peppers or the pepperencini on the top. You put that together, everybody in Chicago knows that as a delicious Chicago dog.
Designing Spaces: Bob, as a grill master, you can’t turn me in, don’t tell anybody, I’m saving this one for myself.
Bob Belvano:You know, you got to look out for number one every once in a while.
Designing Spaces: OK, I’m getting so hungry talking about these. Last but not least, where is this one from?
Bob Belvano: This is a simple one, but a great one. This is a Texas hot dog, and the base for that is Chili, and the reason it’s so good is because, you know you can get in a serious argument going about Chili. Well, the beauty is you use whatever Chili you want on this. You like it hot; you don’t like it so hot. Whatever your favorite chili is goes on top of the hot dog. Then you’ve got Jack cheese on top of that and then either salsa or onions on top of that. A simple hot dog, but a delicious one.
Designing Spaces: Wow, you are the grill master. Bob, thank you so much.
Bob Belvano: It was a pleasure to be here. Now I’m going to dig in on some of these.
Designing Spaces: Please do. You continue. I’m telling you, big thanks to Nathan’s and big thanks to Specialty Food Groups as well, and our grill master Bob Belvano. This is Designing Spaces. I believe it’s party time. There you go.
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