Francesco Farris of Zio Cecio Calls Mystery Diners to Bust Employees Selling Secret Tex-Mex Menu

Don't mess with Francesco Farris.
Don’t mess with Francesco Farris.

Did anyone catch Friday night’s episode of Mystery Diners on Food Network? The star of the show was Zio Cecio owner/chef Francesco Farris. He suspected his chef and one of his employees were serving a secret, cash-only Tex-Mex menu on Monday evenings when Farris wasn’t in the restaurant. Apparently the duo was planning to open a Tex-Mex restaurant and they were using Zio Cecio’s kitchen and customers as practice. Farris called Charles Stiles and his crew of undercover diners  to investigate and the employees were busted and fired on camera. The episode, “Menu Mayhem” will run again Wednesday at 10PM. Those employees are lucky Farris called Mystery Diner and not his relatives in Sardinia.


  • Gipson

    This is a really fun show (way better than Restaurant Stakeout even though it’s the same show). Coopers BBQ from Ft. Worth was also featured a couple episodes back, in which a family member and manager was accused of selling the family BBQ sauce recipe to a food truck.

    Since the food truck would presumably also be local, I really wanted to know which it was, but couldn’t figure that out.

  • fudtv

    this show is about as real as NN’s journalistic ability

  • Mike

    I found the whole thing really hard to believe. Every time I’m at ZC Francesco is there on top of things running a very tight ship.

  • CoB

    Gipson – The Coopers episode was scripted.

    • twinwillow

      The link won’t open but, I did read on the TMBBQ website that that show was indeed scripted and, rehearsed. So basically, all those shows are a bunch of crap.

  • Joseph Bateman

    This was faked. Just for tv ratings.

  • Kuzkuz

    I was there when they filmed. It was clearly fake and everyone was actors. Even the “employees” were actors. I’m proud to have been a blurred face. They didn’t comp any of our meal and it was a horrible experience eating while they were filming that charade. Lost a couple of regulars.

  • Steve Davis

    I saw this show ands thought the whole prefeace seemed unrealistic. Doing minimal research I was able to learn this show is fake and staged with actors. I do not believe I ever saw that mentioned or disclised on the credits. So the Food Network actively participates in a total fraud and likely more than one, (Robert Irvine?), but fires Paula Dean, (who I could care a less about either), for saying a bad word 30 years ago? Does that strike anyone else as odd?

    • Nancy Nichols

      I agree with you to a certain extent. It’s an interesting scenario. When I found out House Hunters International was a set up in many of the cases, I felt ripped off. When it came out that Paula Deen hid her diabetes condition from the public, I was outraged. I think the current news gave her former supporters a better reason to fire her when they probably wanted to earlier.

  • dee ell

    Paula Deen also referred to Michael Sam as “the black football player who came out.” I’m sorry that no one else believes the last time she was racist 30 years ago. you don’t just stop being a bigoted idiot.