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Eight premieres 'Check, Please! Arizona' at new day, time


people sitting at table talking
December 19, 2011

Eight, Arizona PBS launches its second season of locally produced "Check, Please! Arizona" at 7 p.m., Jan. 5.

Recipient of three Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards, the show is reaching a growing audience that includes 10 percent more viewers in the 18 to 49 demographic than does Eight’s average primetime lineup.

Each week the show features a trio of guests who dine and then review three local restaurants they recommended to each other. James Beard award-winning chef Robert McGrath hosts the half-hour program.

“'Check, Please! Arizona' is a bit of an anomaly for Eight,” said Nancy Southgate, Eight’s associate general manager, who is the content and executive producer of the show. “We produce it ourselves, and its audience skews younger than average for PBS. But Arizonans are embracing this home-grown show and telling their friends to tune in. We expect that kind of viral following only to spread in the second season.”

Southgate revealed that in 2012, the show will feature 39 restaurants across Arizona including: Bravo! Bistro in Scottsdale, 15.quince grill and cantina in Jerome, Essence Bakery Cafe in Tempe, Nobou at Teeter House in Phoenix and Vogue Bistro in Surprise. On Jan. 26, the entire show will be devoted to Sedona area restaurants.

During last season, more than 600 viewers nominated restaurants to be considered for "Check, Please! Arizona," Southgate said, another indicator of the show’s popularity. To appear on the show, viewers must nominate their favorite eatery (restaurant, supper club, diner, lunch cafe, dive, hole-in-the-wall, food truck, etc.) at azpbs.org/checkplease. The show’s website received about 120,000 visits in 2011, and anticipation of those restaurants successfully nominated runs high, she added.

“This year, we’ll give fans a peek at the first show by unveiling those restaurants on Eight’s Facebook page Wednesday, Dec. 28,” Southgate said. “Ramping up our Facebook posts and Tweets is another way we expect to better engage viewers this upcoming season.”

Key to the program’s success is its host, McGrath, a nationally acclaimed chef for more than two decades who is largely credited with changing the face of American Western cuisine. McGrath, of Roaring Fork fame, is now executive chef of the upscale Spotted Donkey Cantina in Scottsdale. Scott Wallin is the producer of "Check, Please! Arizona" and Suzanne Guery is the coordinating producer.

The show is made possible by BestDentalCareAZ.com, Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers, Whitfill Nursery and Lawns by Les. "Check, Please!" is a registered service mark of Check, Please! LLC.