If You’re Craving More “Somebody Feed Phil,” You’d Want To Check Its “Prequel”
They call him the “anti-Bourdain,” a food and travel show host who is less your rugged macho explorer and more your friendly tito always ready with a dated joke or two. Comedy writer Philip ‘Phil’ Rosenthal won many fans the world over with his endearing Netflix show “Somebody Feed Phil.” He took us to Vietnam, to Mexico, to New Orleans, introduced us to his producer brother, and his parents who he chats with via Skype. More importantly, he let us vicariously taste each destination’s street delicacies as well as its fancy takes on local cuisine. What not a lot of people know is that there is a predecessor to this Netflix show: a series called I’ll Have What Phil’s Having (PBS) which can be accessed now on Youtube.
Rosenthal is a huge fan of the late, great culinary star Anthony Bourdain. “I was shocked and saddened, but I want you to know what an inspiration he was for me,” he said of the man’s recent passing in an Austin Fest interview. “I’m exactly like Anthony Bourdain if he was afraid of everything.”
There’s no better illustration of that statement than Rosenthal at work. At first glance, I’ll Have What Phil’s Having seems like your typical understated and underrated food and travel series.
Here’s your straight white male eating his way through well-known urban culinary destinations. He’s got his local area guide and production crew, with whom he samples various regional cuisines from street stalls to five-star restaurants, and everything in between. He also documents his attempts at replicating his favorite dishes, some of which go hilariously off-kilter.
So what makes the show special?
Phil’s secret ingredient is wonder.
Where Bourdain exudes a confident rock-star swagger and a slightly jaded man-of-the-world demeanor, Rosenthal approaches every dish, every city with wide-eyed excitement and just a teeny bit of hesitation. He peers and pokes at an unfamiliar dish before tentatively taking a small bite. He savors the mouthful. And then, you watch his entire face light up. It’s magical!
If you’re the introverted type who’s curious and excited about experiencing other cultures but still a bit apprehensive about the entire journey, you’ll find Phil charmingly relatable. He’s also funny AF. But that’s to be expected from the writer of Everybody Loves Raymond.
“My mother was not a fantastic cook. Our oven had a setting for ‘shoe.’ But I’ve always loved family, food, travel, and humor. That’s how I connect with people,” he says of his initial inexperience at culinary exploration.
“I'm not your typical adventurer. So, I’m hoping folks will look at a nebbish like me exploring the world and trying new things and say, ‘If that guy can go outside, maybe I can, too.’”
The show premiered in 2015, with six episodes in the first season: Tokyo, Italy, Paris, Hong Kong, Barcelona, and Los Angeles. It’s centered on the warmth and camaraderie that comes from sharing a hearty meal with friends, and you can experience the same warm vibe when you immerse yourself in each episode.
Check out the segment where Phil undergoes a masterclass to recreate world-renowned French chef Ludo Lefebvre’s omelet:
Or where he tries the Chinese delicacy century-old eggs. Watch his face as he takes his first bite at 0:42!
I already went through the rest of the episodes and the guy is a natural riot! If you enjoy binge-watching foodie shows, I’ll Have What Phil’s Having is a perfect addition to your feel-good series library—and you just might love what Phil’s serving.