Phil Rosenthal was the executive producer of Everybody Loves Raymond and has a long list of comedy writing and producing credits, so you know he’s funny, but his winsomeness is a delightful surprise. He has a childlike charm and glee at new experiences and new people. This makes his Netflix series, Somebody Feed Phil (season 4 just dropped on Netflix), both comforting and inspiring. It makes me want to eat good food, share it, and express the joy of eating.
The premise is simple: Phil travels around the U.S. and the world, one location per show, and eats. An expert in that location often joins him to show him the best of that place, and his famous friends sometimes eat with him. But the best moments are when he crashes a coffee klatch of older Israeli women in a mall, sits on the back of a pick-up truck with construction workers at lunch, or talks with the people who make or grow the food he’s consuming. He’s always drawing people into the experience, into the conversation. His curiosity about and pleasure in food is contagious.
The show is a family affair: he video chats with his parents at the end of every episode and freely teases them (especially about the bland American-Jewish food they fed him when he was a child). His wife appears with his parents and joins him on location for some shows. His brother is a producer, and Phil regularly jokes with and about his brother. He often eats with a family in their home, and charms every person, but especially the children. This makes Somebody Feed Phil more than just a food travelogue show; it’s also about being in a family and having friends and wanting to share your life with them.
Somebody Feed Phil is an excellent show to watch in good times, but it’s especially good to watch during stressful times. It reminds us that food is good, curiosity can connect us, and joy is contagious. (Netflix)