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They are Anderson County’s kings of burgoo and soon the entire nation will find out why.
Jesse Sanford and Jeff Royalty, three-time winners of the annual Burgoo Cook Off sponsored by The Anderson News, are scheduled to appear at 11:30 a.m. Dec. 30 on cable network TLC’s “Hungry Brothers” show.
The Hunger Brothers — Tom and Henry Herbert — are from the United Kingdom where they’ve gained television fame as the Fabulous Baker Boys. Tom is a master baker who runs a famous British bakery. His brother, Henry, is an acclaimed chef who runs a butchery next door to the bakery.
The show features the brothers traveling through the United States, sampling local cuisine. The first episode will air a half hour before the one featuring Sanford and Royalty and was filmed in Nashville.
The episode here was filmed amid strict secrecy earlier this year at Four Roses Distillery, where both men work. Sanford said filming took nearly 11 hours.
Sanford, who has risen to local fame for the burgoo he and Royalty prepare for the cook off and sell during the city’s annual burgoo festival, said the producers asked him to make his famous stew a little differently, at least for the cameras.
He said instead of preparing it with store-bought meat, they asked him to round up wild game for the preparation portion of the show.
“They wanted to see it done the wild way,” Sanford said. “We had squirrel, rabbit, wild turkey, deer, quail … that’s what they wanted to see. Steve Shryock helped us a bunch and got me most of the wild meat.”
But what was actually served was the version the men make during the cook off.
“We didn’t even cook the wild,” he said. “We just showed them how to make it the wild way, then they switched the pot and what you actually see is the way we serve it in town. They pulled the old switch a roo.”
Nevertheless, the Hungry Brothers loved the unique concoction, Sanford said.
“They went wild over it,” he said, adding that the brothers were very likeable guys.
“Oh, they were down-home people. The were good boys … couldn’t be no better.”
Judge-Executive John Wayne Conway said he’s thrilled to have Anderson County featured on a national TV show.
“It’s just tremendous for Anderson County,” Conway said. “I’m real proud Jesse and Jeff … they make some of the best burgoo that’s ever been made.
“Who knows, maybe they’ll end up being the next version of ‘Duck Dynasty.’”
Sanford said filming took place beneath the gazebo at Four Roses. He said his set up was the same he has used in each of the past three years during the cook off, which raises money for Sheriff Troy Young’s Shop With a Cop event.
“We set it up just like we do in town, with the antiques and stuff,” Sanford said, adding that the producers balked at a couple of items, including the bourbon barrels.
“They made us turn the Four Roses barrels around, though, because they said it looked too much like a commercial,” Sanford said. “We also had a tobacco stick there and they made us get rid of it. They didn’t know what it was and didn’t want it in there.”
Four Roses will be easily recognizable, though, and Master Distiller Jim Rutledge is expected to be featured during the episode, too, Sanford said.
As for what the episode will actually look like, Sanford said he doesn’t know because he hasn’t seen it.
“I don’t know how many minutes we’ll be on there,” he said. “They said it would be 22 minutes, but I’m not sure.”
Sanford said the producer of the show found out about him on the internet and called Four Roses.
“They found out that we’d won the cook off two years in a row,” he said. “I’m not sure exactly how they found it out, but they called and the personnel person at Four Roses called me at home and said they were trying to get a hold of me.”