Bob_sickles_2Bob Sickles

Bob Sickles and some of his employees from Sickles Farm Market found themselves on a television sound stage in the Chelsea section of Manhattan a couple of months back when who should walk in but Martha Stewart.


Before they’re sellers, Sickles and his crew are buyers — both of food and garden products, the store’s two lines of business. And when the producers of “The Next Food Network Star,” a reality show, went looking for people who apprise and buy food products wholesale, they invited the Sickles team in to join colleagues from Balducci’s, Whole Foods and others on the show.

Their role? To do what they do at trade shows and on the loading docks of their businesses: hear pitches from sellers of new food products, taste the goods, ask questions and give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down.

Superstar chef Bobby Flay is the show’s host, and on this episode, the contestant had to come up with a product using a simple russett potato.

The Sickles crew was among 50 buyers for the episode, so they have no idea how much if any face time they’ll get when the show airs this Sunday at 10p, Sickles tells redbankgreen.

In any event, it was a thrill to be part of it, he says — especially when Martha Stewart showed up to great fanfare as a special guest. The buyers hadn’t been told she’d be there, and Sickles admits he was a little star-struck (a feeling only bolstered by the ironclad non-disclosure agreements he and other participants were required to sign and honor until recently).

So, Bob, who’s a bigger star in the food world, Martha Stewart or Bobby Flay?

“You know, that was pretty impressive when Martha Stewart came out, because she is huge in the garden world, and pretty huge in the food world, too — though her light has diminished a bit since her little ‘tenure,'” he says.

“Bobby Flay is to my mind he bigger star of the moment,” he adds, “but as far as name recognition goes, they’re both pretty big.”

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