Netflix Series "Somebody Feed Phil" Explores Food and Cultures From All Around the World

Aimée Gramblin

Phil Rosenthal says, oozing humility and humor, as he manages to be a white Jewish guy in Capetown, South Africa, sitting with Nelson Mandela’s grandson and his wife while striking just the right tone. He thanks them. He listens. Phil is a pretty dang good listener. (Season 2, Episode 5)

“I gave the Mandela's hope!” Phil says, comfortably poking fun at himself.

Like a good restaurant, there’s something for everyone

Phil has an innovative and creative approach to producing his foodie show, Somebody Feed Phil (2018-present) because it’s for foodies and a broader audience.

Anyone interested in exploring the world, in seeing the commonality between all humans, in laughter, love, and tears will likely enjoy this show. It also appeals to a multi-generational audience.

My 12-year-old son, my 42-year-old husband, and my dad and step-mom, who are in their late 6os, all enjoyed this show.

Phil mixes food with humor and empathy

Rosenthal is co-producer of the 90s and 2000s hit show, Everybody Loves Raymond, upon which his parents are an inspiration for the Jewish parents in the show.

In seasons 1 and 2 of Somebody Feed Phil, both Phil’s mom and dad are featured in video chats. Their banter is hilarious.

Sadly, his mom passed away in 2019. His dad and Phil’s wife continue to appear in video chats in Season 3. And, Phil’s adult son and daughter sometimes make cameos on the show as well.

In 2020, Rosenthal has released 3 seasons of his show, Somebody Feed Phil, on Netflix. Season 4 is set to premiere on October 30th, 2020. Go binge-watch the first three seasons to prepare yourself for number 4.

Is this show for foodies?

Is Somebody Feed Phil for foodies? At first, I wasn’t sure, but I’m going to say yes…

Although Phil’s analyses of favorite foods are limited from “YUM!” to a certain facial expression of stuffed-mouth exuberance to “WHAT?!” to a Phil Happy Dance, he is wining and dining with famous food critics and chefs throughout the land.

We are treated to beautiful and exotic foods in each episode. The scenery is breathtaking. We learn the history of the area and the history of the locals.

From Buenos Aires to New Orleans to Copenhagen, each locale feels fresh as Phil begins his voyage with a hunger for something new amidst something unfamiliar.

There is a common thread throughout each episode. Phil recognizes that all over the world people speak a universal language — a language of food. And humanity. Food is the starting point for recognizing our humanity.

Standout episodes

Bangkok Season 1, Episode 1
We find ourselves visiting a floating outdoor market with Phil. With his guide on-boat, Phil begins a floating food tasting. By the end of the episode, he finds himself in an elephant sanctuary, timidly realizing his small size next to this gentle giant.

Tel Aviv Season 1, Episode 3
Phil finds a town in which there is no need for police. So, we now know that can be done. He also explores the peaceful way in which Muslims and Jews are coexisting in the same spaces.

New Orleans, Season 1, Episode 5
In New Orleans, Phil tries playing an instrument with an inner-city youth band. Spoiler alert — he’s not very good. But, he is great, as always, with the kids who appear on the show.

Seoul, Season 3, Episode 4
Phil visits South Korea. He eats with a woman who escaped North Korea’s dictatorship at the age of 19. When the waitress brings out a simple concoction, the woman practically jumps out of her chair with happiness — it is one of the foods from her childhood. The dish brings back her sense of identity and upbringing. “No one chooses where they are born,” she says a matter of factly.

Takeout…I mean takeaway

Somebody Feed Phil is about more than good food. It’s for people who like food and want to travel beyond their familiar borders, and laugh a lot while learning a lot.

This is a show with generous servings of history, connection, inspiration, love, and growth. The food’s good, too.

The Covid-19 pandemic put a hold on filming, but Season 5 is slated to be released on Netflix sometime in 2022. We're looking forward to seeing what Phil and his crew dish up wherever they go.

Ratings

Originally published July 2020 on Medium.

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