A new segment from Sacha Baron Cohen’s Showtime series Who Is America? mocks the self-serious nature of restaurant criticism, while also lampooning the fine dining trend of menus driven by a personal narrative. Cannibalism is a key part of this over-the-top prank.
In the clip (see update below), Cohen plays Rick Sherman, a former convict who now serves high-end cuisine inspired by his experiences in prison. Sherman’s guest for dinner this evening is Bill Jilla, the critic behind the food site dinnerreviews.com, who’s been told that “Rick’s prison-themed cuisine has the potential to earn a Michelin star.” The first course is an assortment of beans on toast, with one legume atop each square of bread. For the second course, Sherman serves Jilla a veal sausage encased in a strawberry condom. And for the pièce de résistance, the chef presents a “filet of vegetarian-fed Chinese dissident.”
Jilla appears to be perplexed by the dish at first, but after hearing Sherman’s long explanation of how he ended up eating and enjoying human flesh in prison, and how he sought to find “human, but ethical” meat for his restaurant, the critic decides to take a bite. Clearly, the professional eater loves what the chef has prepared for him. “It’s melting on my palate,” he says. “I do not even need to chew it.” Sherman even convinces Jilla to record a message to the family of the guy who allegedly gave up part of his body to the restaurant. “To the Lao family, thank you very much, it’s truly an honor and a pleasure,“ the critic says directly to the camera.
Jilla is not a heavy-hitter in the world of food writing, and his website is currently down for the count. But regardless of his level of notoriety, this sketch works so well because it shows how gullible some trend-chasing writers can be, especially when they’re presented with food cooked by a purportedly esteemed chef who’s perceived to be pushing the envelope.
Watch the entire absurdist meal in the video above.
Update, August 24: The clip has been pulled from YouTube, but you can still watch the episode on Showtime Anytime.
• Rick Sherman Prepares A Meal For Food Critic Bill Jilla [YouTube]
• All Pop Culture Coverage [E]