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Old Fort Niagara take a bow on PBS cooking show for kids

YOUNGSTOWN – Old Fort Niagara joins several local sites that have hosted “Twice as Good,” the national PBS kids cooking show.

Twin hosts Delaney and Hadley Robertson learned about 18th century foods prepared in the bakehouse of the French fort, as well as feeding the soldiers and baking bread, which they helped knead. Brian McDonald, the fort’s interpretive department assistant manager, and Suzannah Emerson, interpreter, dressed in period clothes to demonstrate the breadmaking methods of the era and share the fort’s food history.

The twins also sampled a more modern local favorite, chicken wings, with Buffalo’s “Wing King” Drew Cerza.

The episode, expected to air early next year, will focus on the foods and traditions of Ontario and upstate New York, according to the show’s Facebook page.

The PBS show, which encourages nutritious cooking and healthy eating, uses its recipes and ingredients as a platform to teach science, math, history and more.

Robert L. Emerson, executive director of Old Fort Niagara, called the production crew “terrific to work with.” He admitted that, originally, it was a mystery why the show picked Fort Niagara for the show.

“Out of the blue I got an email from the producer at this New Hampshire public television. They were doing several venues, some in Ontario and some here in New York,” Emerson said.

He said it was learned later that the Buffalo Niagara Film Office had recommended Old Fort Niagara.

“The twins have gone to Monticello and other high-profile historic sites around the country, so they thought it would be a good fit,” said Emerson, who added that the fort’s website sealed the deal with its foodways program.

Old Fort Niagara’s food-making demonstrations present cooking techniques and share examples of ingredients used in the fort’s past – which includes French, British and American cooking methods used during the different occupations of the fort.

He said the twins were fascinated by the Old Fort Niagara tour. The show, which was shot in the bakehouse, featured everything from fish and pea soup to dandelion salad – entrees of seasonal cooking in the 18th century.

But the twins saved their appetites for something more contemporary.

“They didn’t eat anything here,” said Emerson of the cooking demonstration. “They went over and had some Buffalo wings with [Cerza]. They filmed that on the river, but didn’t want the fort in the background for that. In the afternoon, they took them to the Maid of the Mist,” said Emerson of the twins’ whirlwind tour of Western New York and Ontario.

“Maybe a lot of people that see this show around the country don’t know we exist,” said Emerson. “Hopefully when people see this show they will see that there is a lot to do here and they might want to plan a trip here and stay a couple of days.”

Old Fort Niagara is a registered historic landmark located in Fort Niagara State Park, 14 miles north of Niagara Falls via the Robert Moses Parkway. The fort is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through June and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. in July and August.