The third season of Somebody Feed Phil bows Friday on Netflix. The creator/writer/executive producer of Everybody Loves Raymond takes viewers on a goodwill eating tour of the world, joined by friends and family. Together, they get a taste of the local cuisine and culture at each stop on his journey.
But first, Rosenthal pulled up a chair to the table and tucked into some questions from Deadine regarding the state of the food world, his personal tastes, and some hypotheticals on what he would prefer after wandering in the desert for 40 years (spoiler: a hot dog).
DEADLINE: You’ve lived in New York and Los Angeles. If you had to pick one place to eat, which city and why?
PHIL ROSENTHAL: Right now, it’s L.A. L.A. has even greater diversity- more people from more countries than anywhere- and those numbers mean you have a greater chance of hitting it big at dinner. Wasn’t always that way. In fact when I got to L.A. after living in N.Y. 30 yrs ago, it was kind of depressing, food-wise. But there was a great explosion of talent. That talent, diversity, and California’s resources make the food scene undeniable.
DEADLINE: How good of a cook are you?
PHIL ROSENTHAL: I would say, on a scale of 1 to 10, not so good. Don’t have the talent or the temperament. I know,I have a food and travel show and I don’t cook. But, I meet a lot of great chefs around the world and they can’t write a sitcom. We all contribute in our way.
DEADLINE: What will happen with the restaurant scene when the restrictions on dining in are finally lifted? Do you see massive closures? Price raises? Empty houses because of fear?
PHIL ROSENTHAL: All that. It’s already happening. The entire middle class of restaurants is being hit hard. That’s over 11 million people, not even counting all the farmers and suppliers. The industry needs and deserves its own specific bailout. If there isn’t one I’m so afraid that all that will survive are fancy expense account places and corporate chains. I don’t want to live in a world without the diner and the coffee shop and the mom and pop places, the ethnic restaurants.We live life in restaurants, its the center of social life, where we celebrate with family and friends, make new friends, travel without traveling, and of course, eat. So instead of waiting for rescue, there are many places to help. Jose Andres and his World Central Kitchen have a brilliant plan to employ restaurants and restaurant workers to feed people in need. My wife and I are matching all donations up to 1M here.
DEADLINE: You’re wandering in the desert for 40 years. After returning and having a drink of water, what’s the first thing you’ll eat?
PHIL ROSENTHAL: A hot dog.
DEADLINE: Is there a cuisine or town whose food you feel is overrated? Underrated?
PHIL ROSENTHAL: I truly think you can get a great meal in most cities around the world now. I credit the internet for making it possible for a kid in Iowa to see what a great chef in Paris is doing and emulate it. In my recent travels, Philadelphia, Memphis, Lisbon, London, Atlanta, Washington DC are all underrated. Don’t know if a whole city’s food scene has been overrated for me.
DEADLINE: We’ve given you a restaurant for your birthday present. What cuisine would you present? Atmosphere? Entertainment?
PHIL ROSENTHAL: Italian. Cozy, Warm. If the food’s great, and I’m with people I’m crazy about, and maybe I have a drink, that’s my entertainment.
DEADLINE: Do you suffer from the same fate as critics when you’re dining out on your own, i.e., are you recognized and then given treatment above the usual service?
PHIL ROSENTHAL: Sometimes. These are the good problems.
DEADLINE: Three dinner guests to share the ultimate meal with?
PHIL ROSENTHAL: Bruce Springsteen, Woody Allen, Salma Hayek
DEADLINE: Is there anything you regretted eating?
PHIL ROSENTHAL: A thousand year old egg in Hong Kong. It’s not really a thousand, it just tastes that way.
DEADLINE: What’s on your wish list of places you’d like to dine in? Thinking North Korea, Myanmar or some other restrictive state might be high on the list, but you tell me.
PHIL ROSENTHAL: India, San Sebastian, New Zealand, Sweden, Sicily, David Geffen’s boat.
DEADLINE: What separates restaurant people from entertainment people? Both put on a show of sorts, both seek to bring pleasure, both are in a business where it’s tough to succeed, but those who do make it are wildly rewarded.
PHIL ROSENTHAL: That’s easy. Most restaurant people work much harder physically, on a daily basis, than most entertainers. Though most people in entertainment complain more.