Welcome to the first weekend of summer 2019. For all the indoor kids and/or anyone who wants a break from all that so-called “fun in the sun,” I’ve got two TV recommendations plus a roundup of all this week’s food-related entertainment news. Here’s what to watch this weekend:
A new kind of LA food show
While Netflix’s series The Chef Show is an excellent showcase for Roy Choi’s skills in the kitchen, his other new project, Broken Bread, is the real TV game-changer. In every episode of this six part series from KCET and Tastemade, the Kogi empire builder explores a different side of the ever-evolving LA culinary scene, with a particular emphasis on how visionary chefs and activists are making an impact on their communities.
Since he rocketed to stardom a decade ago, activism has always been part of Choi’s work inside and outside the kitchen. He’s used his platform as a celebrity chef to address inequality in the food system, while growing a group of trucks and neighborhood restaurants serving creative dishes at prices low enough to compete with the fast food chains. In 2014, the chef and his friend Daniel Patterson also notably launched Locol, anambitious mini-chain that served healthy-ish versions of comfort food favorites while employing members of the community. Unfortunately, that project didn’t pan out exactly as they’d planned, but the restaurant still lives on as a food truck and a catering facility based in Watts, California. And now, with Broken Bread, the chef can shine the spotlight on other Angelenos who are making a difference through their work in the food world.
Throughout Season 1 of Broken Bread, Choi meets with small business owners who are employing formerly incarcerated people, upstart entrepreneurs bringing fresh vegetables to food deserts, and community activists turning food waste into meals for those in need. The chef also looks at how the legalization of recreational marijuana is impacting local LA businesses, and he pays a visit to the Beyond Meat labs to see how that team is creating one of America’s most popular new meat alternatives. The season concludes, memorably, with a look at the inner workings of Locol, its eventual shift to a catering-only operation, and a peaceful “Hood Day” celebration at the restaurant that gets broken up by the cops.
Like the late Anthony Bourdain, who featured Choi on his first trip to LA for Parts Unknown, the chef is a charismatic host who also does more listening than talking on camera. There’s not a ton of cooking on Broken Bread, but Choi always seems happy whenever he gets a chance to work with other people in the kitchens. I hope that, despite everything else that’s going on in the Kogi empire, he finds time to work on more episodes of both The Chef Show and Broken Bread, since they both rank among my favorite food TV shows of the year so far.
All six episodes of Broken Bread are available on KCET.com as well as Tastemade. If you’re looking for just a few episodes to take for a spin, I would recommend starting with the “Future” episode and moving onto “Watts.”
Streaming sélection du jour
Los Espookys, “El Exorcismo”
Watch it on: HBO Now
The gist: The pilot of HBO’s new Spanish-language comedy series begins with a ghoulish quinceanera and ends with a hilarious faux-exorcism orchestrated by a bunch of hipsters. I don’t want spoil how the main characters get from one event to the other, since that’s a big part of the fun here, but it’s an entertaining ride that includes plenty of oddball jokes about a family chocolate dynasty, and not one, but two gags involving Momofuku chef/restaurateur David Chang. Created by (and starring) SNL writer Julio Torres and At Home with Amy Sedaris veteran Ana Fabrega, Los Espookys is one of the strangest new shows of the year, but also one of the most promising. Portlandia fans will be happy to see co-creator Fred Armisen appear throughout this episode as Uncle Tico, the world’s greatest valet parking attendant.
In other entertainment news…
- If you’ve got $90, Massimo Bottura will teach you how to make pasta in his MasterClass seminar.
- KFC’s latest stunt item is a fried chicken sandwich coated in Cheetos sauce (and it looks delicious).
- As Eater contributor George Reynolds explains, the character of Billions eat a lot of meat, but bread is really the key to their hearts.
- The Culinary Institute of America has started an Anthony Bourdain Legacy Scholarship to help students study abroad.
- Guy Fieri wishes he was in Toy Story, apparently.
- Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club will not be returning for a second season.
- Ivan Orkin, of Chef’s Table fame, challenged Jimmy Fallon to a ramen slurp-off last Friday.
- Gordon Ramsay’s National Geographic travel show looks shockingly okay.
- Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and Queer Eye are both returning to Netflix next month.
- And speaking of Queer Eye, the members of the Fab Five appear in Taylor Swift’s bonkers new video for “You Need to Calm Down Now.”
Have a great weekend everyone, and if you’re looking for an outdoor cooking project, perhaps consider making Gabriela Cámara’s grilled pork tenderloin in charred chile adobo.