Lombard couple featured in new Food Network series 'Me or the Menu'
Can a Lombard couple's relationship survive the stresses of starting a new food truck business together?
TV viewers will find that out with the new Food Network docuseries "Me or the Menu" debuting Thursday, June 30. Kathleen Murray and Nate Albert of Lombard are one of four restaurateur couples whose lives in Houston, Brooklyn and Chicago were all captured by reality TV crews for the five-episode series.
"Probably the most important thing about this show is the in-depth look at the impact of our personal relationship while trying to run a business together," said Murray, who was cast on "Me or the Menu" last year not long after she and Albert launched Saucy Kat, a Wheaton-based Italian cuisine food truck.
"It was an online interview, and apparently we did fantastic," Albert said about the audition process.
This isn't Murray's first time appearing on a reality TV show. She briefly appeared in episode 3 of season 11 of the Fox show "MasterChef," which put Murray on the casting radar of Food Network producers.
But "Me or the Menu" was a different TV production beast. Instead of a studio-bound cooking competition, "Me or the Menu" was an all-encompassing documentary project.
"Having cameras on me from the moment I wake until the moment I go to bed, having GoPro (cameras) in the car and being mic-ed up all day long -- it really delved into the behind-the-scenes of life and what it's like to run a business," Murray said.
"When they first started filming, I was so awkward," Albert said. "But the more you did it, the more you got used to it."
Murray notes that she also has a 9-to-5 corporate job as a chief creative officer for a technology company. COVID-19 cutbacks last year meant that Albert was laid off from his job at a winery, which allowed him to be dedicated to the food truck.
Saucy Kat was a way for Murray to express her love of cooking and share family recipes stretching back generations. It also allowed Murray and Albert to avoid the full risks of running a restaurant full time -- a luxury not afforded to another "Me or the Menu" couple, James Martin and Jessica Neal, who run the Chicago restaurant Bocadillo Market.
But Murray and Albert say the preparation for food trucks is still significant.
"I don't think people have any idea of the stress and work and labor of love of what goes into producing an event," Murray said. "I spend six hours making my sauce. And then sometimes, I go home at 3 a.m. in the morning, and I'm back up at 6 to prep the truck."
Both Murray and Albert are nervously anticipating "Me or the Menu" airing and seeing how their lives will be edited and depicted on screen. When they were interviewed, neither had seen a full episode yet.
"It's finally starting to sink in. The video previews are online," Albert said. "Kathleen has experience with being on TV, and I don't. So it is surreal."