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Butler County vendor of fresh-made, homestyle foods to appear on national TV

Pat and Melissa McKee, co-owners of the food truck Cluck, Cluck, Moo & Friends, pose in front of the truck on Sunday, July 16. Shane Potter/Butler Eagle

Television viewers who are fans of “Carnival Eats” on the Cooking Channel might not want to miss the popular show in September.

While a firm date has not yet been released, not only the Big Butler Fair, but four food vendors will appear in a segment on the show that month.

Larry Hays, concessions manager at the Big Butler Fair, said folks from “Carnival Eats,” which appears Sunday evenings on the Cooking Channel and the Food Network, contacted him for a list of vendors from which they would choose four they would feature on their show.

“Carnival Eats” host Noah Cappe interviews vendors at fairs, festivals and carnivals regarding their product, then helps them whip up one of their signature dishes as the cameras roll.

Hays said he gave the show’s officials the contact information of about 30 vendors, and they chose Cluck, Cluck, Moo & Friends, of Butler; Darnella’s Delights, of Pittsburgh; Layton Concessions, of the Altoona area; and Big Mike’s Concessions, of New Castle.

Melissa McKee said she and her husband, Patrick, were thrilled that their Cluck, Cluck, Moo & Friends was chosen to be featured.

“It was fun, exciting and really an honor, to be honest,” McKee said.

She reckons “Carnival Eats” personnel chose Cluck, Cluck, Moo & Friends because they are from Butler County, and their menu items contain fresh, local ingredients.

McKee explained the couple bought the “mobile food facility” in 2019 and had it refurbished and painted.

Unfortunately, their pickup date was in March 2020.

“Right as the world shut down, we picked up our mobile food facility,” McKee said.

The McKees also bought a building on Main Street, where the Cluck, Cluck, Moo & Friends business is housed.

Pat and Melissa McKee, co-owners of the food truck Cluck, Cluck, Moo & Friends pose in the service window of the truck on Sunday. Shane Potter/Butler Eagle

“We started doing lunches because we couldn’t go to any events due to the shutdowns,” she said. “We sold lunches out of the truck in our parking lot at Penn and Main.”

Penchant for ‘real food’

McKee said Cluck, Cluck, Moo & Friends is the result of the couple’s penchant for avoiding processed foods for themselves and their children, Payton and Madison, who are now in college and help out with the food vendor business when they can.

The McKees were famous for their hand-breaded chicken tenders that were scarfed down by the dozen by their children, their friends, and those at family gatherings.

“It’s the chicken tenders that started the thoughts on potentially doing a mobile food truck,” McKee said.

Patrick has many years’ experience in restaurant management, her brother-in-law likes to try fresh recipes, and she is the smiling face to greet those who approach the bright red trailer to grab a bite, McKee said.

“I just love people, and I love meeting and taking care of people in our community,” McKee said.

The couple enjoyed offering kids meals at the fair that are not huge, greasy portions that are unhealthy.

While Cluck, Cluck, Moo & Friends offers French fries, they also offer homemade dehydrated fruits as a substitute.

Their homemade macaroni and cheese uses all fresh ingredients, as well as burgers, sandwiches and other items.

“It’s a lot more labor intensive, but that’s our labor of love to our community,” McKee said.

She cannot reveal which Cluck, Cluck, Moo & Friends menu item was prepared for the “Carnival Eats” cameras per an agreement with the Cooking Channel, but she is considering a watch party at a local venue once she knows the air date of the show in which she appears.

Honored by recognition

“Words cannot express that feeling of being recognized for something we’re doing because we want to,” McKee said. “The crew was kind and had great personalities. We felt lots of energy from them.”

She said the show featuring her family business is slated to be next season’s finale, but that could change.

“In the food truck, we got in the heart of the pandemic when everything was shutting down, we would never, ever have guessed at any point in time that we’d be on national television,” McKee said. “It was such a privilege to be filmed by them.”

Instead of piling up money, McKee hopes the show results in an understanding among parents that high-quality, fresh ingredients in the foods a family serves is tantamount to good health.

“Money won’t buy happiness, but kindness is free,” said McKee, who is a licensed social worker employed for 21 years in the mental health field.

She also appreciates those who have trusted her family to serve them food since their business began three years ago.

“We really do enjoy meeting every single one of them because without them, we could not have made Cluck, Cluck, Moo & Friends a success,” McKee said.

Madison McKee said her parents raised she and her brother in a rural area of the county and always made their food from scratch instead of relying on frozen, processed fare.

“It was always very important to them to have fresh ingredients and for everything to be healthy,” she said.

Madison also appreciates that Cluck, Cluck, Moo and Friends sticks to events and parties in Butler County. She said the family is looking into participating at venues like Foodie Friday in Butler or Mingle on Main in Saxonburg.

“We get to be a part of the community, which has always been something my family has been into,” she said.

Hays said he is proud to report that “Carnival Eats” contacted the Big Butler Fair in 2016 as well, and featured the vendors on two shows.

He said he was glad they chose Cluck, Cluck, Moo & Friends for their upcoming season.

“I though it was great because they are a good family, but they also have good food,” Hays said. “I eat there a couple times each fair, which says something because there is so much food to choose from.”

Hays said he will watch the “Carnival Eats” episode or episodes that feature the Big Butler Fair vendors.

“I’m proud of our vendors, because all four of them did a very good job,” he said.

Pat and Melissa McKee, co-owners of the food truck, Cluck, Cluck, Moo & Friends pose in the service window of the truck on Sunday. Shane Potter/Butler Eagle
The food truck, Cluck, Cluck, Moo & Friends is shown on Sunday. Shane Potter/Butler Eagle

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