"The Best Thing I Ever Ate," a Food Network show, digs into Renee Linn’s olallieberry pie in an episode airing tonight.
The segment — taped in March at John and Renee Linn’s restaurant and Linn’s pastry kitchen in Cambria — is part of a program focusing on sliced foods. Segments show Rachael Ray, Duff Goldman, Cat Cora, Marc Summers and others as they enjoy slices of items including “a meat-lover’s dream charcuterie plate” and Southern-style fried green tomatoes.
Summers, host of the Food Network’s “Unwrapped” show and a member of the “Next Food Network Star” selection committee, shares his love for Linn’s olallieberry pie, a relationship that goes back about a quarter century.
Summers explained to The Tribune that he and his wife, Alice, purchased property in the coastal San Luis Obispo community in 1974 and sold it about 13 years later.
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“So coming back is like coming home,” he said. “We have such good memories here.”
In a way, Cambria helped launch Summers on his television career.
Former Hearst Castle guide “Freedom Berry inspired me to learn more about the Castle,” recalled Summers, who eventually became “a Hearst Castle fanatic” and later worked for the Hearst Corp. on a special about the state park.
For the Food Network taping, Summers met with manager Aaron Linn, son of John and Renee Linn, who are co-founders of Linn’s restaurant, a mail and Internet sales operation, a wholesale kitchen that furnishes frozen pies to grocery markets, and gift and home décor shops in Cambria.
The TV host sat upstairs and, under the glare of filming lights, dug enthusiastically into several pieces of the pie, exclaiming over various aspects of the well-known delicacy.
Later at Linn’s pastry kitchen, head cameraman Piers Bath of Atlanta and assistant Jasson Bender of Los Osos taped as Renee Linn showed them how she and her staff convert flour, sugar, butter, big frozen olallieberries and other prime ingredients into the pie that has been a cornerstone of Linn’s business since it opened as a farm store and pie shop in 1985.
That’s when Summers learned to love Linn’s olallieberry pie. And now he’s sharing his passion with his audience.
This will be the second time the Food Network has featured Linn’s. According to John Linn, a “Viewer’s Choice” segment of the “Food Finds” show in March 2004 about the family-run food business generated about 10,000 phone calls and orders. “Our mail-order business alone went up $100,000,” Linn said. “We had to install a new phone system to handle it all,” because the show had repeat runs, as will “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.”
As to what will happen this time, Linn said — somewhat warily — “We’ll have to wait and see, won’t we?”