Given our seemingly endless fascination with food as entertainment — highlighted by shows like “Top Chef” and personalities like Anthony Bourdain — it makes sense that there would be a great deal of interest in culinary podcasts.
Fortunately, there are newcomers and longtime broadcasters who are creating some really fine material about the world of food, focusing on recipes, cooking tips, trends and interviews with chefs and innovators.
Despite podcasting being an audio-only format, the medium lends itself to talking about food in ways that television can’t.
“I think there’s an intimacy available with podcasting that’s not as certain or as guaranteed right now in other mediums,” says Howie Kahn, Prince Street’s editor-in-chief. “[It’s] a good environment to draw out a long yarn and the kinds of truths that aren’t always available with a director asking for multiple takes.”
Foodies are lucky that 2016 saw no shortage of food podcasts, so we compiled a list of our top five and asked the hosts and producers a few questions about what makes them tick, as well as what the future might hold.
The Prince Street podcast is named after the location of Manhattan’s Dean & DeLuca store in SoHo. It’s a food variety show with episodes organized around particular themes like risk, craving and anxiety. Howie Kahn, a James Beard Award winning writer, is the host and editor-in-chief of Prince Street. Bourdain was a recent guest for an episode focusing on the holidays, and correspondents such as the actor and director Griffin Dunne often contribute to the show.
Your podcast in three words: Deep, delicious, surprising.
Other podcasts you listen to (not food related): Like everybody else, Serial. Anything Max Linsky and Jenna Weiss-Berman are doing at Pineapple Street Media. I like Alec Baldwin’s show, Here’s The Thing. And Heavyweight. Keepin’ it 1600 and Bill Simmons is always great, too. You Must Remember This is terrific.
Best guests: My favorite guests are the ones who allow themselves to get vulnerable and tell stories that are emotional and resonant. John Malkovich was terrific in this regard. A woman named Hawa Hassan, too. She grew up in Somalia and spent time in a refugee camp there before starting on a whirlwind journey that culminated in reconnecting with her estranged mother and launching a line of Somalian sauces. I loved having Francis Ford Coppola on the show, too. Alex Guarnaschelli is an excellent guest. Anthony Bourdain, Stephanie Danler. There’s so many.
Dream guest (dead or alive): Queen Elizabeth in a no-holds-barred interview. She’d never talk about food with any real depth in public, but if she did, I’d love to hear what that would sound like — 90 years of royal feasts. I’d be into that. An exit interview with the Obamas would be terrific. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards on how they’ve modified their diets over the years. In the dead people category — Einstein? He’d have to have something good to say. In more personal terms, I’d be curious to know what my own ancestors ate for the last couple hundred years.
Favorite food city/restaurant meal: My favorite food city, and country, is Singapore for the way in which eating, and preparing food there, is treated with such pride and devotion, whether it’s a world-class restaurant meal or a bowl of $2 soup from a hawker center. Integrity and deliciousness seem like universal rights there.
Food pet peeve: Preparations that smack of laziness. Lack of empathy in a dining room.
Goals for 2017: A show with even more compelling stories, provocative interviews, real feeling and much-needed humor. I want Prince Street to be essential listening for anybody who cares about food and, really, humans.
Cooking With Archaeologists
Cooking With Archaeologists is truly a unique food podcast, focusing on recipes from field archaeologists. These are the people whose job it is to excavate and explore what makes up the history of humanity, literally getting their hands dirty in the process. They often lead a semi-nomadic lifestyle, traveling from one location to another, so mealtime, especially in the evening, becomes very important. Field archaeologists Dr. Colin Amundsen and Cris B. Santisteban produce the show, which is hosted by Colin.
Your podcast in three words: Universal, energizing, gregarious.
Other podcasts you listen to (not food related): Joe Rogan Experience (Colin) and Bill Burr Monday Morning podcast (Colin). Cris listens to Catalan radio and football matches (Barcelona, of course).
Best guest: The best guest is the diversity of the show. All of our guests are unique and bring something different to each interview through their personal experience and perspective regarding archaeology and food.
Dream guest (dead or alive): Gertrude Bell (1868-1926) was an English woman who wore many hats, one being an archaeologist in the Middle East. Ms. Bell probably personifies why a lot of people become archaeologists — seeking adventure!
Favorite food city/restaurant meal: Galician style octopus in Barcelona! (Cris) and the 7-napkin burger from the Owl’s Head General Store in Maine (Colin).
Food pet peeve: Ketchup on hotdogs — I really don’t see the need or understand the combination (Colin). A hair or a fly in my food and too much coriander (Cris).
Goals for 2017: To continue to bring the public a diverse perspective on archaeology and food through the people who dedicate their lives to uncovering our shared past. And to promote the fantastic work and culinary skills of our talented colleagues.
Milk Street Radio
Milk Street Radio, which premiered in October, is Christopher Kimball’s latest media venture. Kimball is the founder of Cook’s Illustrated magazine and America’s Test Kitchen, but he parted ways with those ventures in 2015. His new show finds Kimball and several correspondents covering the world of food in interesting and unexpected ways. Recent episodes include a chat with author Michael Pollan and a primer on Persian cooking.
Your podcast in three words: The world cooks.
Other podcasts you listen to (not food related): Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, Friday Night News Quiz (BBC), In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg (BBC)
Best guests: Nigella Lawson and Ziggy Marley.
Dream guest (dead or alive): Taillevent (medieval chef) or Genghis Khan (for no particular culinary reason).
Favorite food city/restaurant meal: Best meal of my life was at Fredy Girardet’s restaurant in Crissier, Switzerland in the 1980s.
Food pet peeve: Anything labeled as “comfort” food (all food is comfort food) and the whole fermented/umami craze.
Goals for 2017: Making it to January 1, 2018? Traveling to Senegal for a cooking lesson? Putting fried eggs on almost everything?
The Splendid Table
The Splendid Table has been on the air since the mid-’90s. Host and food writer Lynne Rossetto Kasper created the show with the idea of exploring the culture, science and history of food, as well as food policies and issues. In addition to the podcast, the show airs on over 400 public radio stations around the country and has won two James Beard Foundation Awards.
Your podcast in three words: Exploring life’s appetites.
Other podcasts you listen to (not food related): We can start on home turf with a few of our fellow APM Podcasts we are currently addicted to: In the Dark, The Hilarious World of Depression, Historically Black, Brain’s On and Terrible, Thanks for Asking.
Best guests: This is like picking favorite children! Norah Ephron, Isaac Mizrahi, Julia Child, Maya Angelou, Col. Chris Hadfield, Michael Pollan, Vikas Khanna and Amy Sedaris (because no guest has made us laugh harder!).
Dream guest (dead or alive): Catherine de’ Medici, Charles Darwin, Michelle Obama or Oscar Wilde, Peggy Guggenheim, Michael Kinsley, Steve Martin.
Favorite food city/restaurant meal: Minneapolis/St. Paul (homebase) or San Francisco.
Food pet peeve: Food waste.
Goals for 2017: Have fun and try new things!
Bite is a Mother Jones food podcast hosted by food blogger Tom Philpott and editors Kiera Butler and Maddie Oatman. The show covers food politics, science and culture with the help of guest writers, farmers and chefs. Recent topics include tricking your brain into eating healthy, the recent wave of restaurants getting rid of tipping and the truth about how much protein we need in our diet.
Your podcast in three words: Food. Politics. Fun!
Other podcasts you listen to (not food related): Death, Sex & Money, The Longest Shortest Time, Call Your Girlfriend, The Specialist, Dear Sugar Radio, Slate’s Political Gabfest.
Best guests: Nicky Beyries, the San Francisco bartender who created election night cocktails especially for Bite: the Nasty Woman and the Bad Hombre. And having Michael Pollan on the show to talk about psychedelics was pretty cool.
Dream guest (dead or alive): Marco Polo.
Favorite food city/restaurant meal: Anything involving tortillas in Mexico City.
Food pet peeve: The over-use of truffle oil.
Goals for 2017: Interviewing actor Peter Dinklage, a real-life vegetarian whose character gnaws on roasted meat legs in “Game of Thrones.” (Can anyone put us in touch with Peter?)