Looking for Destination Dining? Watch Tasty Travels with Travis Frye
Surry County native tempts viewers with a show full of culinary delights
One of Travis Frye’s earliest memories is watching his great-grandmother cook ground steak in a cast-iron skillet. The Mount Airy native spent a lot of his youth with her while his parents worked long hours. About once a week, the family ate ground steak, a loose-meat concoction, because it was frugal and practical.
It never occurred to Frye that his weekly meal was unusual. It was simply supper for the family. He later learned this Depression-era staple made by blending ground beef with flour, milk, salt and pepper was native to Surry County, just like him, and the culinary tradition doesn’t stretch far beyond county lines.
Those childhood memories and an appreciation for local heritage inspired Frye, tourism coordinator for Dobson and Surry County, to create the Surry Ground Steak Trail in June 2023. The trail includes nearly a dozen independent restaurants with ground steak on the menu.
“Lots of people sell hamburgers,” Frye says, “so we thought why not stand out by promoting dishes that are unique to our area?”
A few months later, that passion led Frye to develop a local TV series called “Tasty Travels with Travis Frye.” Its original concept was highlighting restaurants on both of the county’s culinary trails, the savory Ground Steak Trail and the sweet Surry Sonker Trail.
Each show tells a bit about the restaurant’s history, the people who run it and the dishes on the menu. Frye goes behind the scenes in the kitchen to share the secrets of how the dishes are made, then gives viewers a taste test by digging into each entree.
“I take great passion in this county,” Frye says. “I want people to come from all over and learn what makes us so special.”
Some dishes are colorful and a bit upscale like shrimp and grits at Southern On Main and crab cake eggs benedict at The Yellow Door Cafe, both in downtown Elkin. But many of the dishes are down-home country staples that local cooks have prepared in their home kitchens for generations.
Tune into the show to learn how handmade biscuit dumplings are dropped into boiling broth to make chicken and dumplings every Thursday at The Derby Restaurant in Mount Airy. Find out the key to crispy catfish at Central Cafe in Dobson (hint: extra salt & pepper are added to the seafood breader). And feel your mouth water as freshly baked potato bread is stacked high with thick slices of bologna and cheese at historic Rockford General Store.
“The show is an opportunity to learn more about the people who pour themselves into the restaurant business, 24 hours, seven days a week,” Frye says.
After all the dishes he’s sampled, though, Frye is still a purist at heart. Give him ground steak on a toasted hamburger bun with mayo, slaw and tomato, and he’s as happy as a kid at grandma’s house.
Watch all episodes of “Tasty Travels with Travis Frye” for free by clicking here.
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