Dining With Denise Neil

Another Food Network celebrity makes a surprise visit to a Kansas restaurant

It’s fun when celebrity chefs make surprise appearances in Kansas — which happens more than you’d think.

Duff Goldman recently hung out at Old Mill Tasty Shop. Gordon Ramsay was in town in late 2017 to remodel a Wichita restaurant. Alton Brown comes to Wichita whenever he gets a chance.

And now another area restaurant has joined the list of local places that can brag about famous culinary visitors.

On Monday, Shindigs Bar & Grill — the old railroad station turned dining destination in Winfield — was the site of a pre-dinner cocktail hour for Food Network star Robert Irvine and some associates.

Irvine, 53, is a British chef known for hosting Food Network shows like “Dinner: Impossible,” “Worst Cooks in America” and “Restaurant Impossible.” He’s working with Creekstone Farms, a meat producer based in Arkansas City, and early on Monday, he tweeted that he had just landed at DFW Airport and was on his way to visit the business.

Around 6:30 p.m. that night, Shindigs co-owner Janet Carroll got an urgent text message from her bartender. A famous chef was at the bar at Shindigs. RIGHT! NOW!

“I couldn’t believe it,” Carroll said. “I ran out to my car.”

Carroll, who lives in Arkansas City, arrived about 20 minutes later to find Irvine sipping on a beer at the bar. He explained that he and his colleagues were enjoying a pre-dinner drink before going to a private residence to eat.

He told her he was impressed with the place and was especially complimentary of the restaurant’s unique men’s restroom, which features urinals that Carroll’s husband, Rob, made out of old beer kegs.

“He was impressed with the detail and the work that we had put into everything,” she said.

Carroll said she had actually met Irvine once before. Back in 2013, she was at a food and wine festival in New York City when she spotted him. He agreed to pose for a picture with her.

He agreed again on Monday, and Carroll shared the shot on Shindigs’ Facebook page.

She wrote: “It isn’t a #ManicMonday when @chefirvine makes a social visit by @shindigsbarandgrill. Thanks for stopping by while visiting our #awesome little community last night. #eatlocal#winfieldks#smalltownusa #foodnetwork.”

Shindigs is at 500 Main Street in Winfield. It’s a two-story restaurant that serves steaks, burgers, salads, pastas, sandwiches, chicken “frizzled” steak, chicken and more.

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Denise Neil has covered restaurants and entertainment since 1997. Her Dining with Denise Facebook page is the go-to place for diners to get information about local restaurants. She’s a regular judge at local food competitions and speaks to groups all over Wichita about dining.