Calgary·Q&A

Host of Food Network's Carnival Eats takes on Stampede midway fare

The host of Food Network's Carnival Eats, Noah Cappe, made a stop in Calgary this week — putting his taste buds to work trying out Stampede midway fare. 

Noah Cappe also dishes on best and weirdest carnival foods he's tried in his career

Noah Cappe samples the dill pickle ice cream at the Calgary Stampede. (Calgary Stampede)

The host of the Food Network's Carnival Eats, Noah Cappe, made a stop in Calgary this week — putting his taste buds to work trying out Stampede midway fare. 

He's in town as a judge for a Stampede food competition, Take A Bite Outta Stampede Midway. 

Cappe spoke to The Homestretch on Wednesday about this year's bigger winners and some the crazier midway food he's tried throughout his career. 

The following interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. 

The food is always a big draw at the Calgary Stampede. Noah Cappe knows all about midway food. He's the host of Carnival Eats on Food network Canada. He's at the Stampede this week, and joins Rob from Stampede Park. 6:50

Q: What have you been up to here at Stampede?

A: We're doing, obviously, this really cool campaign, Take A Bite Outta Stampede, which is kind of helping  promote and present the individual food awards each day.

I heard you guys talk about the big winner of the, 'I'm kind of a big dill category,' yesterday, which was dill pickle ice cream.

Q: Have you sampled that?

A: I did. In fact, I was one of the hosts and I got to judge that category as well. So I was one of the people that voted for it to be a winner. I'm not even a huge fan of dill but it was just like that perfect amount where you've got the taste, you've got the experience, but it didn't kind of overpower it.

The presentation on it is super fun. They've sprinkled dill seasoning all over the top of it, and around the brim of the cone there's like a whole little dill pickle shoved in the side like a spoon. It's very creative. It's super fun.

This year's Calgary Stampede midway foods include a bowl of ice cream topped with bugs. (Calgary Stampede)

Q: You're obviously familiar with carnival fare from far and wide. Is the dill thing a big trend these days?

A: Every year there seems to be an ingredient that surfaces to the top a little bit more than others. I know that last year I spent I spent the whole year putting a lot of jalapenos back, but it does seem like pickles are having a moment here. And if the Stampede has anything to say about it, it'll only further the movement — dill pickle cotton candy, pickle brine popsicles — I mean, all kinds of cool stuff.

Q: What were some of your other favourite foods on the midway?

A: I know a lot of people were talking about the lobster, which I know has been a big hit. The butterbeer. It's kind of like Harry Potter inspired soft serve ice cream and you can upgrade and get a smoking top that looks like a ton of fun. There's these foot-long garlic Parmesan fries. You can hit those with different toppings. There's been all kinds of crazy stuff. It's a killer menu this year.

Q: Do you have a least favourite?

A: I've only been here for a day and a half and there are so many booths, so much going on here, you really do need a couple of days to kind of make a full dent in it. But there have been no duds yet. I always say that the deep fryer is the greater eraser. It doesn't really matter if you stumble or bumble leading up to it. Once it hits that bubbling bath, that kind of solves most problems.

Q: And what do you think it is about deep-fried food and bizarre deep-fried food that people love so much?

A: Once a year, when the fair comes to town, you get to kind of head out and just give in. The whole concept, the whole point, the whole fun is that it's this one day of the year where you get to indulge and go for all the crazy, over-the-top stuff that you wouldn't otherwise. 

I happen to live that day over and over and over again. But the point is, I think, it's about letting loose and just enjoying it.

Q: I would think your physician would recommend that it shouldn't be every day of the year that you have access to a deep-fried peanut butter jelly sandwich. How do you do it? You must have a cast iron stomach?

A: I've always said the concerning part is that I've never had an upset stomach. That's the part that is more worrisome. I don't know if it's destiny. I don't know if it's just a lot of practice. But, yeah, I'm fortunate enough to be able to indulge and enjoy and not deal with the repercussions.

Q: You've travelled to carnivals all over North America. What's the craziest thing you've eaten?

A: The show has taken us now to the far corners. We've done episodes in Hawaii and Alaska and Vegas — all these different places that are just bringing such unique crazy kind of approaches.

But I still say to this day it was Season 1, maybe the second episode we filmed, in Oklahoma, at the Oklahoma Rattlesnake Festival and we did deep-fried rattlesnake. And just the whole thing — the process, the preparation — it was so weird. It was definitely a standout or one that from a shock value sense alone stuck with me.

Q: How did it taste?

A: It's funny. Everybody is always like, 'It tastes like chicken.' But my review would be, unless you're caught in the desert and you're struggling to stay alive, I would do the Brussels sprouts or the burger before I did the rattlesnake.