Citizen Cider hosted a viewing party in its Burlington taproom Friday night in honor of its appearance on one of the Food Network’s most popular shows. The producers of Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives visited Citizen Cider for several days in September to put together a segment for the show, and the episode featuring that segment has just premiered.
“I think that they wanted to showcase what can be done with cider — cooking with cider, drinking cider, pairing cider with food,” Citizen Cider co-founder and co-owner Justin Heilenbach said.
Head chef Ryan Hickey said the show’s producers were especially interested in Citizen Cider’s pairing of its Tulsi basil cider with lamb dishes. “They were (also) really excited to hear about our cider syrup that we make in-house,” he said. “We take raw cider juice and reduce that down to a syrup consistency, and that’s something unique that we only have here and we produce in-house.”
Hickey said it was initially tricky to work around the television cameras and other equipment, but he ultimately found the experience rewarding. “It was a little bit nerve-wracking at first, but as a professional chef, once you start to cook, that’s what you do,” he said. “You get right in your rhythm and right in your zone, and you get to show off the things you do on a daily basis. It was pretty interesting and it was pretty cool.”
For Heilenbach, the taping served as an opportunity to touch base with a wide range of customers that have been coming to Citizen Cider for nearly a decade now. “We had a lot of regulars show up and participate in the episode and just be around and re-connect,” he said. “People came from out of town. People came from all over Vermont.”
Neither Heilenbach nor Hickey saw the Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives segment ahead of time, so they were anticipating its airing just as much as their customers were.