7/15/2016 7:11:00 AM
WGN Cameras, Brittney Payton check out Rip’s
LADD — When Rip’s Tavern fired up the deep fryers on Thursday evening, the kitchen was packed like a sardine can with eight people crammed into the narrow space, including a camera man and a set of studio lights.
Brittney Payton, daughter of Chicago Bears all-time great Walter Payton and host of WGN’s “Chicago’s Best,” was getting a crash course in cooking chicken from the Rip’s crew. She threw on an apron, measured out salt and flour, mixed the batter and began plopping chicken into the fryer in front of the camera.
“You don’t have to actually serve anything we make,” said a producer.
But the chicken turned out well, all the same.
Why they’re there: The Chicago’s Best crew is doing a road trip episode, venturing out of Chicago to the surrounding areas including Pontiac, Rockford and Kenosha before trekking to the small town of Ladd.
“We found some places outside of the city that people can make as a destination dinner,” Payton said.
Chicago’s Best takes suggestions their fans on where to go, and when fans got wind of a road trip episode, Payton said requests for Rip’s came pouring in.
“Once we started researching this place, a lot of people had heard about it. They kept saying ‘You have to go,’” Payton said. “We thought it would be a perfect place for the show.”
“We’ve got great customers,” said owner Bill Rounds. “They spread the word and that’s why the camera is here now. I guess she had tons of requests.”
Starting at the bar: To get the cameras rolling, Payton interviewed Rounds about the history of Rip’s, which is celebrating 80 years of business this year.
“We weren’t going to do anything for it but then this came up,” Rounds said.
Rounds said he was impressed with Payton’s demeanor during the entire shoot, which took several hours.
“With her here it’s really personal. It’s one-on-one and that’s a nice touch,” Rounds said. “She takes her time and talks to people, which is really sweet.”
Moving to the kitchen: Heads bobbed and weaved in the dining room, trying to get a look at just what was going on with all the cameras in the kitchen.
“We’ve never really had a cooking show like this before,” Round said. “We’ve never had a camera in the back watching us cook the chicken.”
And unfortunately for Payton, the chicken takes 20 minutes to cook, so she passed the time talking to staff and snacking on the extra appetizers. “I’m loving the leftover onion rings. I can’t wait to try the rest,” she said.
On to the dining room: As the camera panned over close-ups of Rip’s menu items, the Chicago’s Best crew dug into some of the fresh-out-of-the-fryer chicken.
“It’s so different. The meat is really moist but the skin is so crispy,” Payton said. “Other fried chicken you have batter that is all the same, but this is so different.”
Payton then sat down for dinner and an interview with Gina Ramey, a longtime Rip’s employee of 56 years. But the film crew made the mistake of setting silverware on the table.
“No forks!” Ramey said.
Brett Herrmann can be reached at (815) 220-6933 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SpringValley.