If you ask me, the next best thing to eating is hearing people talk about eating. Each week I consume gobs of food podcasts ranging from the seriously specific to the super-silly. I share several faves below, and I hope you’ll suggest a few, too.
Light ‘n’ pleasant podcasts to whet your appetite:
“It’s not for foodies, it’s for eaters,” the show proclaims, and that’s absolutely true; you don’t have to be a master chef to enjoy it. Each week, host Dan Pashman welcomes cool guests and explores savory topics like office fridges and the wide world of doughnuts.
The publication’s relatively new podcast features energetic commentary and reporting. Among its recent highlights is this piece about what it’s like to work a 24-hour shift at Waffle House.
If WTF with Marc Maron only featured food personalities, you might get Evolutionaries, which profiles movers ‘n’ shakers in the food world, from Eric Ripert to Alice Waters to Tom Colicchio. The podcast pairs nicely with a weekend Top Chef marathon.
A Taste of the Past
History buffs should appreciate this show from culinary historian Linda Pelaccio, which always teaches me something new about what’s in my pantry. Episodes have spotlighted everything from Indian cuisine to the history of Chef Boyardee.
This new podcast specializes in slightly edgy food tales. So far, eps have explored bizarre foods, great cookbooks, and “first food jobs.”
Consider yourself food-obsessed? So do chef Rick Bayless and food writer Steve Dolinsky, which makes them ideal voices to tell us about awesome Thai food, A-plus wine, and the allure of Shake Shack. You can download full episodes on iTunes or enjoy segments in five-to-10-minute bites.
This biweekly show about the evolution of Southern food has my name written all over it. Launched in November, topics have included the history of Bourbon Street, the origin of Derby Pie, and the intersection of coffee and Christianity.
Hearty, wholesome podcasts stuffed with substance and style:
The Splendid Table
Host Lynne Rossetto Kasper offers a buffet of information here; I’ve been listening for so long that even the sound of her voice makes my mouth water. Reported pieces delve into every cranny of culinary culture, and fun features include “The Key 3,” in which food experts share three techniques or recipes everyone should know.
America’s Test Kitchen
This TV show, website, and radio program all center on a bona fide test kitchen in which recipes and techniques are tried until they reach perfection. The podcast blends features and listeners’ calls, which range from fairly straightforward “What do I do with this chicken?” kinds of questions to geekier problems.
I’m a relatively new listener, but so far I’m enjoying the cheerful and curious approach hosts Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley take to food science. Their recent cheese episode would be a good place to start.
Chef Dave Arnold, who founded New York’s Museum of Food and Drink, is also passionate about science, and his whimsical show addresses his food discoveries as well as listeners’ Qs. I gotta love anyone who can tell me “there are several enemies to hams” with total conviction.
KCRW Good Food
Evan Kleiman’s show is smart without taking itself too seriously; for example, her recent Valentine’s Day episode looked back on the (incredibly fascinating!) history of edible underwear.
Chewing the Fat
This show from Chicago’s WBEZ might win for best title, which blends the names of co-hosts Louise Chu and Monica Eng. Like sister series This American Life, each episode is built around a theme, like ramen, manners, or breakfast.
Let’s Get Real
Chef Erica Wides describes her show as “separating the food from foodiness,” and in each episode she calls out fakery in the food world. If you’ve ever wondered just how much pumpkin is in a pumpkin spice latte, here’s where to find out.
Sweet, salty, and fun podcasts that’ll leave you smiling and fulfilled:
Food is the New Rock
Musicians spend a lot of time on the road, which means they often know a lot about the country’s best and worst food. Episodes feature lively chatter from musicians, comedians, and chefs alike, and past guests have included Questlove, Wolfgang Puck, Mark Mothersbaugh, Moby, and Jon Favreau.
Dining with Doug and Karen
How fun can it be to hear people chewing? As it turns out, it’s pretty great, especially if the eaters have a sense of humor. In each ep, Doug Benson and Karen Anderson ask chefs to whip up a special meal for them and their special guests (Zach Galifianakis, Paul F. Tompkins, and Lisa Loeb, to name a few).
Mike and Tom Eat Snacks
Most MATES listeners don’t come for the sugary snacks: They’re attracted to the dry and salty banter from co-hosts Michael Ian Black and Tom Cavanagh. In this long-running podcast, the comedians pick apart everything from Twizzlers to Chex Mix.
Two things surprised me about this beverage podcast: One, it’s about all beverages, not just alcoholic ones. Two, it’s quite compelling to hear people’s daily beverage habits. Since its launch last year, this show has taught me a lot about Crystal Pepsi, evening coffee drinkers, and creative ways to use Schnapps.
The Dinner Party Download
Many podcasts I list here offer helpful recipes and cooking tips. This show takes care of the other details, like jokes, cocktail recipes, new music, and other trivia designed to amuse your guests. Even if you’re just cooking for a party of one tonight, it’s still worth a listen.