15th Feb 2019
We all know that visual media loves food — our TV screens, our bookshelves and our Instagram feeds are all jam-packed with food porn and edible delights, each one looking prettier, edgier or gooier than the last. But when it comes to audible offerings, it’s less obvious where to look and what to listen to. But fear not; there is plenty to consume in the world of food podcasts, whether you want to listen to people chat as they cook, hard-hitting news, nostalgia and food business help. Whatever you’re into eating, there is something to suit every taste. These are a few I listen in to on a regular basis:
The Food Programme, BBC Radio 4
Having been on the air since 1979 as a BBC Radio 4 weekly show, this podcast tops the charts in so many ways. Presented by Sheila Dillon, who has that perfect dulcet yet clipped radio voice, it’s a show that is hard to beat. Being a BBC production means they have unrivalled access to archives, research and famous food names. Expect in-depth and trustworthy coverage of food news and current topics like ‘May Contain Nuts’ with Bee Wilson. There’s an excellent episode that takes a look at all the fuss around turmeric, and the ‘A Life Through Food’ episodes are a joy, particularly the recent Nigella Lawson one with Diana Henry.
This a modern classic in the food podcast world and a gateway for many to the brilliant Heritage Radio Network, a US radio station dedicated to food programming. Cherry Bombe started life in 2013 as a bi-annual magazine and has morphed into this brilliant podcast hosted by founders Claudia Wu and Kerry Diamond. Each week, they interview the coolest and most creative women in the world of food — between bakers, chefs, writers and business owners, they always seem to seek out the best stories you want to hear. Recent standouts include ‘From Food Truck Fail to Fashion’ with Jenny Goodman, who went from a failed food truck in Brooklyn to founding Tilit NYC, making high-quality workwear for chefs, and a birthday ode to everyone’s favourite Food Network star Ina Garten. Expect lively discussion and a crash course in who the upcoming movers and shakers in the culinary world really are.
The Menu, Monocle Radio
Pegged by Monocle as ‘our guide to the world of food, drink and entertaining’, anyone who reads their magazine will know this means an uber-stylish take on food news. Hosted by the hypnotically-voiced (and named) Markus Hippi, each weekly episode takes a look at the latest on-trend food happenings. With reporters dotted all over the globe, expect plenty of niche stories like truffle hunting in Australia, the comeback of Timorasso (an ancient Italian grape) or the latest ingredients from West Africa. Travel enthusiasts will enjoy their mini ‘Food Neighbourhood’ episodes; a handy guide to lesser-known food spots if you’re visiting one of the cities covered — they’ve even got an episode on Smithfield.
A weekly podcast from the Eater.com team, this USA-focused show delves into a plethora of food topics — some of it is relevant on our side of the pond too, and some of it is just really fun to listen. Hosts Amanda Kludt and Daniel Geneen don’t shy away from strong opinions and debate, veering from serious subjects like sexual harassment in the industry to lighter topics like Mission Chinese’s $8 water pickles. I always enjoy their monthly roundups of the best or biggest food stories each month for an entertaining snapshot of what food madness is making the news. And their in-depth ‘Everything you need to know about..’ episodes which can be on anything from ice cream to cocktails or Tex-Mex. Pick a subject and they’ve usually got it covered.
The Food Chain, BBC World Service
This lesser-known food show from the BBC is well worth a list for an eclectic mix of food, science culture and business. Recent subjects covered include interviewing ‘Pestatarians’ (people who eat vermin), and taking a closer look at food product placement in media (a fascinating episode). They tend to delve into lesser-heard food stories like a recent episode on Rohingya and Uighur cuisine and ‘Behind The (Food) Scenes’, where they chat to the food stylists and home economists that make the TV chefs look good. For a more conversational listen, try their ‘My Life in Five Dishes’ episodes, especially the Jose Andres one, where he casually talks about how he managed to make 3.4 million meals for Puerto Ricans in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
Chew The Fat, Gastogays
Food blogging duo The GastroGays started this Irish-focused podcast last year, where they travel about, interviewing some of their (and my) favourite people in Irish food. They’ve recently sat down with Lily Higgins in her native Cork, chatted with meat favourites Pat Whelan and Peter Hannan on joining their food businesses together, and went behind the scenes with the team at the Eastern Seaboard. Big cooks themselves, hosts Patrick and Russell are keen advocates for Irish ingredients and do a superb job of throwing the spotlight on local producers like Drummond House Garlic, Broighter Gold oil, Corndale Farm, Lacada Brewery and Broughgammon Farm.
This New York-based podcast, hosted by Dan Pashman, proudly announces at the start of each episode it isn’t for foodies, but for eaters. With diverse titles like ‘Is Sandwich Sexism Real’, ‘On Sex and Eloping’ and ‘Why Cows Wear Fitbits’ expect an irreverent take on how we look at, consume and talk about food. Host Dan loves to weave in unexpected guests, not just foodies. In a recent episode with comedian Roy Wood Jr. they chatted about the McRib and touring the south of the US as a black comic. In another episode, ‘The Pashman Family Takes Your Calls’, Dan gets his wife and kids to solve listeners food-related dilemmas. There’s never a dull moment and you always learn something very unexpected.
Much like in everyday life, when the juicier chat seems to happen after a drink, wine expert Olly Smith’s podcast is all about spilling — drinks and stories. You’ll know Olly from his wine tastings on TV — in particular, Saturday Kitchen which means he gets access to some great names, whether he’s chatting super Tuscans with Sting and Trudie or discovering that farmer Adam from Countryfile was in the movie Braveheart. He has a long list of food names too in his four series, chatting to Tom Parker Bowles in The Groucho Club about drinking Madeira in the morning, drinking Guinness with Nathan Outlaw and getting Jay Rayner to spill over a glass of sparkling wine.
The food history geeks’ favourite, Gastropod gives a compelling insight into the origins of much of the food we eat today. Co-hosts Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley look at food through the lens of science and history, interviewing experts, visiting labs and doing lots of research to uncover the hidden history of the everyday stuff in our shopping baskets. You will find out stuff like how the Aztecs called avocados ‘testicles’ because they hung low, often in groups of two, the ‘miracle’ story of artificial sweeteners or how the carrot became orange.
The Best Possible Taste with Sharon Noonan
If you want to know what’s happening around Ireland in the world of food, then you should seek out Sharon Noonan’s Best Possible Taste podcast. Sharon has interviewed all manner of people from the food industry in Ireland, and tends to focus on what’s happening countrywide, chatting to JP McMahon about upcoming Food on The Edge and covering lots of local farmers, producers and food businesses. She also produced ‘What a BLASt – 10 years of the Irish Food Awards’ in 2018, a look back at the Blas na hÉireann Irish food awards — well worth a listen.
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