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Chester County Press

A TV spotlight for local mushroom grower

09/29/2017 09:52AM ● By J. Chambless

By John Chambless
Staff Writer

On Oct. 6, Peter Gray of Phillips Mushroom Farms in Kennett Square will be a hometown celebrity. He's featured on an episode of “State Plate,” a show on cable's INSP network with Taylor Hicks. The show is in its second season.

The show follows Hicks, a singer who shot to fame on “American Idol,” as the state-hopping host putting together a plate of each U.S. state's signature foods. The Pennsylvania episode, filmed last year, begins with Gray, a grower manager at Phillips, opening the door to a mushroom growing room and welcoming Hicks.

Peter Gray

 The five-minute segment manages to cram in a bit of state mushroom history, a discussion of several types of mushrooms, a picking demonstration by Hicks, and a final sample of mushroom soup, which Hicks selects as the appetizer course for his Pennsylvania meal.

The half-hour show then moves on to the Philadelphia cheesesteak, as Hicks learns how to order “wiz wit” and tries to keep up with a barrage of orders at Pat's as the guy who puts on the cheese. After selecting his entree, Hicks moves to Lancaster County, where he learns what goes into chow-chow, and twists his own soft pretzel at the Sturgis Pretzel Bakery in Lititz.

He finishes up at Bird-in-Hand, where he helps make two shoo-fly pies and gets to sample the results.

Hicks is a co-owner of a barbecue and blues bar in Alabama, and the series follows him as he visits farms, ranches, markets, festivals and other locales to uncover the stories behind each state's unique food traditions. Along the way, through his interviews with local business owners, he assembles a plate of appetizers, entrees and desserts from that state.

The show has a brisk pace and genial mood, with drone shots of the facilities and towns Hicks visits, and it puts the region in a very favorable light. Best of all, it will leave you hungry for our region's best-known foods.

“State Plate” airs on Friday, Oct. 6 at 8 p.m. on INSP.

To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email [email protected].