Since September, Macomb Township’s Stefano Garrisi has been going around Macomb County and beyond, visiting restaurants for his show The Food Funatic. He is seen here at Paulee’s Restaurant in Macomb Township.

Since September, Macomb Township’s Stefano Garrisi has been going around Macomb County and beyond, visiting restaurants for his show The Food Funatic. He is seen here at Paulee’s Restaurant in Macomb Township.

Photo by Alex Szwarc


Macomb Township man creates show highlighting restaurants

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published December 9, 2021

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Stefano Garrisi asked himself how he could entertain folks and highlight local restaurants.

The answer: the Food Funatic.

Garrisi, from Macomb Township, serves as the host of the Food Funatic, a show that highlights metro Detroit restaurants.

Since September, Garrisi has been going around Macomb County and beyond, visiting restaurants for the show. As of early December, 10 episodes have been broadcast on YouTube.

“I have an Italian background, so my heritage is Italian, so food has always been an extreme passion,” he said in response to why he chose to review restaurants. “I’ve been all over the world and the nation, trying different places, and I’m a big fan of the Food Network.”

The pilot episode featured Paulee’s Restaurant in Macomb Township, near 22 Mile and Hayes roads. Other local establishments featured on the show include Fattoush Lebanese Grill in Clinton Township, Willie’s Donuts in Macomb Township and Gaudino’s in St. Clair Shores.

Garrisi, 45, has a background in the entertainment industry and sales and marketing.

“For me, the craving to entertain people and do it in a fun fashion and show some of my creative side was always there growing up,” he said. “This was another outlet for me.”

He formerly wrote and produced music and said he currently works in regional sales for a corporate company.

“Post-pandemic, I thought how do I help restaurants and how do I promote restaurants in a different light,” Garrisi said. “Locally, I don’t think it’s ever been done like this. It has a different effect when it’s in your backyard.”

Paulee’s owner Pashk Zallaj said what Garrisi is doing is good for the community.

“I’m proud that he is doing this for everybody,” he said. “I had people coming in after, and they all told me what a great guy he is and that he does a phenomenal job.”

The shows, which last about 12 minutes, can be found on YouTube at The Food Funatic, Facebook at The Food Funatic and at the foodfunatic.com. Episodes have over 12,000 views between YouTube and Facebook.

Garrisi said each episode specifies where the restaurant is located, highlights various foods and gets the background story from owners and employees.

“Every restaurant has its own following, so naturally you see different upticks in comments on these platforms depending on which restaurant it is,” he said. “They are very prideful in representing that.”

Not wanting to copy another concept, Garrisi indicated he wanted a full-production show, making it as professional as possible.

“It takes on a lot of work in editing, but at the end of the day, these are restaurants I believe in and would be good to highlight,” he said. “It gets people hungry and excited, and naturally, they see an uptick in their business, so it’s a win-win for everybody.”

In determining which restaurant to visit, Garrisi said he took an inside-looking-outward approach.

“We started with more local and what’s in my own backyard,” he said. “I wanted to be selective on what types of food. I didn’t want to be singularly focused on one type of Italian food or just diners.”

As a restaurant owner, Zallaj said pandemic-related challenges have been staff and product shortages and an increase in the cost of food.

“It’s been a very rough ride, but thank God our business is doing well,” he said. “A lot of our success is because we have very good food. Me, my wife, son and daughter all work here. I’m here open to close.”

Garrisi said the most enjoyable part of hosting the show is the overwhelming feedback from restaurant owners and from entertaining people.

“You feel like you’re helping good people who take pride in a really challenging time,” he said.

Garrisi produces the show with longtime friend James Smelzer.

The plan is for the next season to begin in early 2022.

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