There is an abundance of great food shows on Netflix - the stunning cinematography on Chef's Table, the endearing Samin Nosrat on Salt Fat Acid Heat, the hysterical baking blunders on Nailed It - but my favorite of them all is Somebody Feed Phil. If you've never seen it before, the show follows Phil Rosenthal, the creator and executive producer of Everybody Love Raymond, as he travels the world in search of deliciousness.
Rosenthal grew up in New York, but now lives in Los Angeles with his wife, actress Monica Horan, and their two children. Thanks to the success of Everybody Loves Raymond, Phil has the time (and the money!) to roam the globe. His brother, Richard, serves as the lead camera man for the show, and every episode, Phil Skypes with his elderly parents back home in New York to share everything he's discovering.
In the very first episode I watched, Phil calls his parents, he's so excited to tell them about a restaurant he just visited, and his mother shouts at the top her lungs, "Richard! Where's Richard?" I don't think there could have been a more quintessential Jewish mother moment if it had been scripted.
Though he's well over six feet tall, traveling with Phil is a bit like traveling with a Jewish grandmother. He's picky, he's constantly noticing and commenting on the other diners, and he can't stand it when things don't go according the plan. In the episode where he flies to Paris, he intends to make his first stop at Angelina for its famous hot chocolate, and when he arrives, the cafe is unexpectedly closed. He gets back into the car, and shouts into the camera, "Well, now the trip is ruined!"
The one thing Phil and I have in common, is that his favorite food is ice cream. He tries to find a dessert place everywhere he goes, and he's uncovered some decadent ice creams, sorbets and gelatos. And yes, I take notes on all his frozen treat recommendations.
There are three seasons of the show currently available. The first is under a different title - I'll Have What Phil's Having - which is what the show was called during its first season, originally airing on PBS. Since making the move to Netflix, seasons two and three are called Somebody Feed Phil.
In each episode, in addition to Skype-ing with his parents, Phil usually meets up with a local restaurateur, food critic, or blogger to show him around. Sometimes he has celebrity guests - in Paris he dined with author David Lebowitz, in Los Angeles he chows down with Alison Janney, Martin Short, Paul Reiser and Ray Romano, and in New York he shares a meal with Tracey Morgan. Part of the fun is that you never know who will show up.
Here are some of my favorite episodes:
- Paris (season 1, episode 3)
- Barcelona (season 1, episode 5)
- Los Angeles (season 1, episode 6)
- New Orleans (season 2, episode 3)
- Venice (season 3, episode 1)
- Dublin (season 3, episode 2)
- Copenhagen (season 3, episode 4)
- New York City (season 3, episode 6)
You don't have to watch the show in order. You can hop around to whichever cities and countries appeal to you most.
I find myself jotting down places I want to try as I watch. My cousin is currently studying abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and one of his goals is to hit every place Phil visited during that episode.
If you aren't already a Phil fan, you will be after just one city!