When we pressed him for details, the chef revealed he was shooting an episode of a special edition of Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
The celebrity chef is in the midst of producing several episodes of his popular Food Network series that have him catching up with some of the chefs featured on past DDD episodes to see how they're coping with the lockdown. In each episode, Fieri video chats with the chefs while they virtually cook together.
Three episodes have aired so far, following Fieri as he checks in on restaurants nationwide and preparing everything from chicken parm to a classic French Dip.
Even under extensive grilling, Hales refused to divulge the recipe he shared with Fieri and his phone, but he did say how he came to be tapped to record the segment. "The producers just called me out of the blue two days ago and asked if I wanted to be on the show," he told us.
No stranger to filming cooking segments for local and national television, Hales was struck by the unique setup. Instead of working with a crew equipped with boom mikes and HD cameras, Hales was instructed to film on his own iPhone. His wife, Jenny, took over camera duties while Hales cooked a batch of food for Fieri.
"The producers directed me remotely. They basically told me every segment they wanted me to do, and we filmed it," he said.
Hales chatted with Fieri via Zoom for the dual cooking segment and interview portions. In total, the chef said, the entire shoot took about 18 hours.
Hales, who became friends with Fieri after the latter came to Miami to film an episode of DDD in 2014, said the celebrity chef switched to "Takeout" versions of his show starting with the second episode of its current season. "He's doing this to shine a spotlight on as many businesses as he can."
Fieri has plenty on his plate this spring. The Emmy Award-winning chef is the spokesman for the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund, a National Restaurant Association effort that awards grants to restaurant-industry employees who've taken a coronavirus-related financial hit. As of April 17, the fund had raised more than $15 million.
Hales isn't sure when his Blackbrick segment will air, but it's a safe bet we're in for an amusing time when Miami turns into Flavortown once again. Check the Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives page for the airtime announcement.