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'Mystery Diners' questions if it ‘Tastes Like Chicken’ on Food Network

Charles Stiles and a few of his Mystery Diners
Food Network

Last night's Food Network episode of "Mystery Diners" was titled, "Tastes Like Chicken" where Charles Stiles and his crew of undercover diners came to the Source in San Francisco.

Charles heard from Mitch Fox, chef and owner of Source, a vegan/vegetarian restaurant in San Francisco, Calif. Mitch is proud to say that no animals gave up their lives for anything served in his restaurant. After reading online reviews, he believes that meat has been served in his restaurant, so he called on Charles to get to the bottom of the rumors.

Charles and Amber came to visit Mitch, an ex-kosher butcher who is now a vegan. He knows that if meat is served there, he could close down for good. So they went to work installing cameras and microphones to see and hear what goes on. Brianna will pose as a food runner, while Amber and Nate will pose as customers. Mitch was amazed by the control room as they watched everything that went on.

Brianna asked Sydney, a hard-core vegan about working there and she told her that she loved it. Mitch feels the same way about her. When she asked Sydney how she liked being a vegan, she told her horror stories about cruelty to animals.

When they spotted Tony the cook, looking suspicious, he had a cup with liquid in it that he filled up in the bathroom. Going back to keep an eye on Tony, he seemed drunk and Charles reminded Mitch that it was a lawsuit ready to happen. As they spotted him returning to the bathroom to refill his cup, Mitch called him to divert his attention. Charles asked Brianna to bring the cup to the control room so they could check it out. When they smelled it, they knew it was gin. Brianna just returned the cup before Tony returned.

Amber came in to pose as a customer. She asked about the menu, and Xavier told her it was vegan and to give it a try. Not really convinced, she acted like she would leave, but he told her he could give her chicken if that was what she wanted. When he served the “real” chicken to Amber, she really liked it, then he confessed that it was vegan chicken. Charles is not happy that he is lying to customers, but it did get her to try it.

Xavier sent his friend out to get him lunch, which Mitch did not mind if he ate it in the employee area. As this was going on, Nate came in to order a vegan cheeseburger. Sydney told him the cheese was made with soy and rice. He insisted that he wanted real cheese, and Mitch admitted that they served real cheese to those who request it. Sydney argued with Nate and ranted on about milk being murder. When he threatened to leave; she let him go on his way.

When the busboy returned with Xavier’s lunch, it was a McDonald cheeseburger that he ate in front of the restaurant, where customers could easily see. As Mitch had enough, he went to get Tony, Sydney and Xavier and bring them back to the control room.

When they came in, they saw the control room images. Xavier was outraged when Mitch pulled his lunch bag from him, swore at him about lying to customers and walked out the door. Charles asked Sydney about letting Nate walk away over cheese. She again stated that milk was murder, but Mitch told her she was an extremist. He told her to go home and come back the next day with a new attitude. As for Tony, he had to take a breathalyzer test and was over the legal limit. Mitch told him to get his act together and return to the restaurant, to which Tony was grateful.

After four months, Xavier found employment elsewhere, Sydney is less critical of non-vegans and Tony is still working on his problem and should return soon. Mitch is happy again knowing that his customers are not being served meat. Had it not been for the "Mystery Diners," these actions could have been the end of this vegan/vegetarian restaurant.

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