'Food Feuds," the Food Network's new show hosted by Michael Symon, pits restaurants who specialize in similar dishes against each other in a final showdown of longstanding battles where each claims their own dedicated and loyal following.
The best example locally also happens to the subject of one of the show's first tapings when Symon brings the 'Food Feuds' crew to Akron to settle a heated and delicious score.
Swensons or Skyway? Each have their devout supporters, those that swear one is simply better than the other.
The second installment of the Akron stop will focus on another age-old local food debate involving Barberton chicken: Belgrade Gardens or Whitehouse?
Taping will take place at both restaurants, as well as throughout the city, where Symon will be conducting some interviews on the street about residents’ preferences.
Barberton-style fried chicken was brought to the area by Serbian immigrants. Papich’s grandparents were the first to open a chicken restaurant in Barberton in 1933. They began selling fried chicken dinners with their signature hot rice, vinegar-dressed coleslaw, and french fries. Hot rice is a combination of tomato sauce with peppers, served with rice or sometimes as a side dish over the rice. Canale said there are restaurants in Bosnia today that sell the same type of chicken dinners with similar sides.
Whitehouse, which this year celebrates its 60th anniversary, was opened in 1950 by Mary Pavkov, whom Canale affectionately refers to as ”Grandma Chicken.” Canale’s family also owns Hopocan Gardens in Norton, which has been in business for 74 years. Rounding out the current crop of Barberton-area chicken houses is Milich’s Village Inn in Norton, which opened in 1965.
Swensons has been grilling burgers in Akron since 1934, when its first drive-in opened in Akron’s Wallhaven neighborhood. Skyway opened its original location in Fairlawn in 1952.
If you want to show up for the live taping of the finales, although we can't imagine anyone in their right mind who would, here are the details:
— For the chicken, noon Thursday at Lake Anna Park (the park is bordered by West Lake, West Park, Sixth and Third streets), Barberton.
— For the burgers, noon Saturday at High Bridge Glens Park, 1817 S. Front St., Cuyahoga Falls.