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Check, Please! Northwest Season 2 Premiere – From Where I Sit

Host Amy Pennington gives us a behind-the-scenes perspective on tonight’s premiere. Let us know what you think in the comments. Bon appetit!

I think it’s safe to say we are all thrilled to be kicking off another inspired season of Check, Please! Northwest. Each season brings a slew of new guests and great restaurants. This season aims to introduce new food finds to eager diners and reminds us to rediscover some of the Pacific Northwest’s longstanding gems.

Everyone seems pretty curious about the process, so here’s how it works on a tape day:

Before we tape, guests convene, one by one, in the green room at KCTS 9, meeting each other (and me) for the first time. It’s sort of like an awkward first date and more often than not guests are a bit nervous. We have snacks in the green room, wine, juices, water, etc., and the TV is running past episodes so everyone has a chance to watch and warm up. Shortly after they arrive, guests are whisked into hair and makeup, where I come visit and we chat about their dining experience. This is always pretty awesome —people sit in a well-lit room and are essentially pampered. Some people love it, some people think it’s bizarre, but everyone comes out looking fresh and handsome. (Personally, it’s my favorite part of the day!)

From there, I sneak away to change into my ”wardrobe” (I’m just trying to look put-together while avoiding any back-fat rolls. Camera adds 10 pounds, ya know) and then we have a quick pow-wow, just me and all three guests, before heading to the studio. (This is usually where we secretly do tequila shots, but I’m not supposed to drink on the job, so don’t mention it to the producers.)

After everyone is thoroughly jazzed, we head into the studio and onto the set you see on TV. The room is dark, but we’re under bright lights. It feels very Broadway and we’ve often had guests break into song. (Thank you Val Thomas-Maston from Season 1!) Everyone gets a microphone, someone pours us wine and pretty soon, we’re off and running! I read the introduction from the teleprompter even though, YES, I have it memorized and, YES, I wear glasses in ”real” life so I can’t see the words well. But the teleprompter does help me to remember people’s names. Never mind that I often mispronounce them (apologies to Kelli Bielema & Jon Meyer in advance) – these are small occupational hazards.

We talk about each restaurant for anywhere from 12-15 minutes, taking short breaks between each. What you see on TV is only 6 minutes long, so you’re missing out on a lot of good times, but you get the meat of the conversation. (Get it? Meat!) And then we wrap up. It’s always sad to see guests go, but we often tape two or more shows in a day, so as JayZ says I’m on to the next one.

On this week’s show, we have Jeremy Baker – a father, tech-y and all around hilarious fellow. Jeremy is a super foodie and has sent me TONS of restaurant reco’s since we met on the show, but he brought us to Taste of India as his favorite restaurant – a humble and beloved Indian place in Ravenna. Kristine Hassell is also a major foodie – she knew her salsa from her ajilimojili – and introduced La Isla to the table. La Isla is a small Puerto Rican joint on the east side serving flavorful Caribbean food and LOTS of rum. Finally, we had entrepreneur Eileen O’Grady who was a breath of fresh air. She knows good food, and brought us to Maximilien—Pike Place Market’s butter-laden French café with romantic water views. She was critical, but practical – the best kind of diner!

Keep us posted as you watch the show and share your experience, thoughts & opinions! We love to hear from you.

Until next week,

oxo - amyp

Amy Pennington is the host of Check, Please! Northwest and a well-known ingredient in Seattle’s food and restaurant scene. She’s also the author of Urban Pantry, Apartment Gardening and Apples: From Harvest to Table, and the e-book series Fresh Pantry. Read more of Amy’s work at and connect on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.


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The Saffron Grill Indian Restaurant in the Northgate area is run by the same family that runs Taste of India. The father of the family, Mohammad Bhatti, for many years operated the Cedars Restaurant in the U District, but sold that location and moved to Saffron several years ago. His son runs the Taste of India. The Saffron Grill has the same menu, but has a much bigger stylish dining room and more parking spaces, along with extensive beer and wine selections. In both locations, the family and their employees make sure everyone is warmly welcomed and served the best Indian food. If you dine there more than once, you will be treated as a family friend.