Parkette's chicken fried in lard appeals to Food Network star

It was the lard that grabbed the heart of Food Network star Guy Fieri on Tuesday.

Fieri, star of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, came to the Parkette Drive-In on Lexington's New Circle Road to fry chicken and make a Poor Boy — and to tell America the best fried chicken is cooked in lard.

"He was just loving that lard," Parkette co-owner Randy Kaplan said. "We stay authentic to Joe Smiley's original recipe, and we have a designated fryer just for that. We hand-cut the chicken, make the batter fresh daily, hand-roll the chicken, drop and fry. He loved that."

It took about five hours for Kap lan and Fieri to fry chicken, make Poor Boys and concoct Parkette's hot dog chili.

While in Lexington, Fieri also visited J.J. McBrewster's on Clays Mill Road.

The Food Network contacted the Parkette's Kaplan about appearing on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives about three months ago.

Last week, a production crew came to get preliminary shots of the food. That turned out to be such a hectic day that Kaplan and his brother Jeff decided to close the restaurant to the public until 4 p.m. Tuesday, the day Fieri would arrive.

The film crew showed up before daylight Tuesday to set up lights and shoot more food pictures. Fieri arrived about 1 p.m., and the only customers allowed to participate were those who had e-mailed the show touting the wonders of the Parkette.

"The show had actually saved all the e-mails from people asking him (Fieri) to come to Parkette," Kaplan said. "They were invited guests, and it was just awesome. I can't thank people enough for supporting Parkette and going out and being vocal about what we mean to the city. The folks were here about four hours, just sitting."

It will be about four to eight months before Central Kentucky — and all of America — gets to see Fieri and Kaplan fry chicken the same way Smiley did 58 years ago.

Before Fieri stopped at Parkette, he was at J.J. McBrewster's.

"They featured our barbecue and the fact that we have authentic Western Kentucky barbecued goat, pork and mutton," owner Susan Mirkhan said. "A crew was here Friday, and they did an overview of everything we offer, and yesterday was the Guy day."

Fieri focused on the restaurant's Western Kentucky sauce, which has been in Mirkhan's family for 75 years.