Peaches and Greens delivers fresh and affordable produce to people around Detroit who otherwise wouldn't get any. (John T. Greilick / The Detroit News)
Celebrity chef Chuck Hughes toured up and down Michigan Avenue this summer filming a “Motor City Meals” episode of his Cooking Channel show “Chuck’s Eat the Street.”
For the episode, which airs 10 p.m. Thursday, Hughes visited popular places such as Slows Bar-BQ and Mercury Burger Bar in Corktown and lesser-known gems like the old-school Hygrade Deli and Dearborn’s La Pita.
Hughes, who owns two restaurants in his native Montreal, chose to film here, he said, because he wanted to know more about what we’re eating, but he learned much more about the city than our love for burgers and barbecue.
“Some (cities we visit) are projects that I feel passionate about and that I really want to explore and discover for myself. Detroit was one of those places,” Hughes said. “I went there with no expectations, ... and I was so amazed by the people I met and what’s going on. We went there the day they announced that Detroit was bankrupt, which is big, shocking news. It seemed to me that Detroit was in the middle of a comeback.
“It’s a really unique place. I loved the food. I loved the people, and I thought it was such an air of change,” said the celebrity chef, who has also appeared on the Food Network. “Grassroots movements and a lot of young artists and chefs and photographers and coffee shops and people that can afford these buildings are now refurbishing these old places and breathing new air into these neighborhoods.”
Hughes saw Detroit neighborhoods up close when he took a tour of the city in the Peaches and Greens delivery truck, which .brings fresh and affordable (they take Bridge Cards) fruits and vegetables to people around Detroit.
“What they’ve done is phenomenal,” he said. “I was really touched by it and it hit home for me. To ride on that truck for a day, it was life-changing. As much as you see poverty on TV, to be faced with it ... I was scared. That’s what I take back from Detroit, this acceptance that what you see is what you get. Hard-working people that aren’t gone and aren’t going away are on their way back. It was eye-opening.”
Hughes also enjoyed the authenticity of the long-standing Hygrade Deli. The sandwich and soup joint has been around for more than 60 years, and owner Stuart Litt has been working there for most of that time.
“I respect people who aren’t afraid to do what they’ve been doing forever and stick to the classics,” Hughes said. “I think (Hygrade Deli) is a perfect example. I love those places that have so much history and are really all about food, and it should be. For the people, by the people.”
'Chuck's Eat the Street'
‘Motor City Meals’ episode
10 p.m. Thursday