Oct. 19, 2016, Cedar Creek, WI – There will be a viewing party on Friday at 8 p.m. at Bibinger’s in Cedar Creek as Tommy Schwai makes his Hollywood debut on the new national TV show State Plate, starring Tommy and his sidekick American Idol Taylor Hicks.
Back in June the season 5 winner of American Idol winner Taylor Hicks visited Schwai’s in Fredonia.
The salt-and-pepper haired Hicks was a contestant on Idol in 2006 and now he’s hosting a new network TV show ‘State Plate’ where he highlights iconic foods in particular states.
“They’re doing a show about Wisconsin brats and it was between us and Johnsonville,” said Tommy Schwai. “If you want the best, I told them to come out here.”
It was Wednesday morning and Tommy arrived at the meat market at 5 a.m. “I’ve been stuffing sausages,” he said untangling a handful of white, slippery casings. “We have one of the biggest parish festivals coming up at St. John Vianney on N. Calhoun Road in Brookfield.”
The Schwai’s were contacted by the show’s producer in May. A letter detailed the premise of the show, on the family-friendly INSP network.
The letter read, “This is the first season of State Plate and it is set to air this fall hosted by Taylor Hicks, (American Idol winner, foodie, and restaurant owner).
We want to feature the brats/sausages, and we would love to come to your shop.
Our shoot would include having an on-camera person, the owner/manager/or staff member (hopefully you Tom!) explaining to Taylor the history of the brats in Wisconsin, and talking about your history and your company, whatever you would like to share. Then you would show Taylor how to make your famous brats.
We want to see Taylor, dressed in the right clothes, hats, gloves, whatever, like he was really at work that day. So whatever process you would like for him to participate in the making of the brats… we are open to whatever ideas you may have.
The entire duration of the filming should not take more than 2 hours. You mentioned that you make the best and adjust the time of day to whatever works best for you.”
According to INSP, Hicks is a partner in a barbecue restaurant in Birmingham, Alabama. The food show will be different as Hicks won’t go from restaurant to restaurant but “he’ll visit farms and ranches, markets and festivals and uncover the details behind each state’s unique food tradition.”
Tommy said he said he knew Taylor Hicks from TV.
“I can remember watching him when he was doing his audition,” he said. “Simon Cowell said, ‘you’re never going to win,” the other two voted for him and he won.”
Tommy couldn’t come up with the name of a Taylor Hicks song but did say he sang country music. “He is a good looking guy – he’s got grey hair like me,” he said tipping his hat.
Kathy Schwai bustled about the shop, cleaning. “She’s doing a lot of cleaning but when you get a special guy in here like Taylor Hicks you have to clean up just a little more,” said Tommy.
Kathy stopped for a minute to talk. “How’d you find out about this,” she asked directly. “You always get the dirt.”
Kathy wound through the story of how Hollywood found them…. And it went a little something like this. “The producer contacted me and her mother’s best friend recommended they come and talk to us because in her mind we had the best brats and we thank her for that recommendation,” she said.
“I have to show him how to do everything,” said Tommy. “We’re going to do brats – he’s gonna get what he gets and that’s what he wants. We’re going to make brats and he’s going to eat brats here.”
The Schwai’s said they weren’t nervous – they had served famous people before like former Brewers managers Buck Rodgers and George Bamburger, Green Bay Packers Lionel Aldridge, and Doug Gonring from West Bend Elevator. “Once you try a Schwai’s brat you’re going to come back,” said Tommy.
After making the brats the Schwai’s will be cooking out so Hicks can sample some of what he created. “We’re going to have special Taylor Hicks brat package and people can buy the brats he helped make,” he said. Filming of the show got underway Thursday morning.