Special Sauce with Ed Levine

Serious Eats' podcast Special Sauce enables food lovers everywhere to eavesdrop on an intimate conversation about food and life between host and Serious Eats founder Ed Levine and his well-known/famous friends and acquaintances both in and out of the food culture.
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Special Sauce with Ed Levine




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May 5, 2016

The Sweetgreen team has watched their business grow over the past nine years from a single 500-square-foot storefront location in DC's Georgetown, which they opened when they were still college students, to what will be 60 restaurants nationwide by the end of 2016. How did they pull it off? Jammet tells us that and more in this episode of our podcast.

Apr 28, 2016

In this episode, we get into some Sporkful-inspired debates about the purpose of hot dog buns and the ideal shape of pie. We discuss the divide in the podcasting world, as well as what makes his often contrarian—and always funny—show great.

Apr 21, 2016

In this episode of Special Sauce, Lam and I discuss how he tends to "go for the cheeks" and why his parents are proud of him for doing so. He also talks about how normal it is for writers to hate writing—but why he still encourages aspiring authors to explore their passion for the craft. Finally, Francis and I have a spirited discussion about cultural appropriation and sensitivity in the American food culture.

Apr 14, 2016

Brooks Headley, the punk-rocking, vegetable-whispering owner of Superiority Burger in NYC, says he's "almost insistent upon only being in bands with extremely volatile characters, myself included." In this week's episode of Special Sauce, I talk with Headley, the author of Fancy Desserts, about food and music—the connection between the two obsessions goes way back for him, though he doesn't allow any music in his restaurant kitchen. 

Apr 7, 2016

"Don't start with your sister's wedding cake," suggests baker and author Dorie Greenspan on this week's episode of Special Sauce. Greenspan has come far from the self-described "sweet little home baker" that she once was, and has a lot of advice for aspiring bakers who want to get their hands in the dough. 

Mar 30, 2016

Colicchio is a passionate guitar player and music aficionado, as you'll hear when he sings one of the riffs in the Stevie Ray Vaughan song that we want to use as the Special Sauce theme song in the near future. We also chatted about his seminal book, Think Like Chef, Colicchio explains that the book took shape only when the recipe testing for it failed in a major way.

Mar 24, 2016

This week, Colicchio discusses three key things he's learned over the course of his career — the things he thinks every aspiring chef should keep in mind. You'll learn about how a prison library book pushed Colicchio into the kitchen, and how the judges on Top Chef really determine a winner. Next week, you'll learn even more about his work to improve food policy, so stay tuned for part two.

Mar 18, 2016

This week, Canora discusses what he thinks restaurateurs and diners misunderstand about the service industry. You'll learn about how he deals with those issues, his guilty pleasures, and why sometimes it's good to have someone remind you to just calm down.

Mar 10, 2016

In this episode of Special Sauce - which, I must warn you, is a bit NSFW, unless you're surrounded by some really adventurous eaters with good senses of humor - Gold, Gabbert, and I discuss our shared passion for music and why there might be a connection between music lovers and serious eaters. 

Mar 3, 2016

On this week's Special Sauce, journalist, author, professor, and activist Michael Pollan - author of In Defense of Food, The Omnivore's Dilemma, and The Botany of Desire - discusses what's kept him in the garden, in the kitchen, and writing over the past 30 years.

Feb 25, 2016

In this second half of my interview with The New Yorker staff writer, Calvin Trillin, you'll learn what major roux-related mistake would keep him from revisiting a restaurant, some of his secrets for speechwriting (or not writing, rather), and why he's envious of Cole Porter. 

Feb 18, 2016

In this episode of our podcast, you'll find out how Calvin Trillin came to be a staff writer at The New Yorker and author of 30 books, including American Fried; Alice, Let's Eat; and Third Helpings, which are now collectively known as The Tummy Trilogy. These books inspired succeeding generations of serious eaters (including yours truly) to devote themselves to writing about the pleasures of indigenous regional food. 

While enjoying our own lunch around the corner from his home, Trillin and I discuss how sliced bread got him into Yale and the reason he's never cared about covering fine dining. The best part? This interview is a two-parter. Stay tuned for more conversation with Trillin next week.

Feb 4, 2016

Pete Wells of the New York Times is perhaps the nation's most influential and powerful restaurant critic, but, as you'll hear on this week's Special Sauce podcast, he's soft-spoken, funny, and thoughtful-and eminently fair-minded.  

Jan 28, 2016

"Cooking is the way I can give a piece of my heart to someone," says The Chew's Carla Hall. On this week's Special Sauce, I chat with Hall about how she hopped around on her career journey, going from being an accountant at Price Waterhouse ("Accounting was my safety job, but I hated it," she recalls) to modeling in Europe (she often paid for her lodging there by cooking for her hosts) to running a lunch delivery service in Washington, DC, to becoming a contestant on Top Chef.

Jan 21, 2016

"In America, you don't get what you don't ask for," says chef-restaurateur, Top Chef contestant, and cookbook author Dale Talde. "You have to punch and kick and scream to get what you want." On this week's episode of Special Sauce, I talk to Talde-one of the truly original, provocative thinkers in the food world today-about the foods he was raised on and the struggles he's faced. 

Jan 15, 2016

On this week's episode of Special Sauce, Ed talks to Brian about his undying-and sometimes heretical-love for pizza, how gluttony ties into his upcoming Showtime series, Billions, and the moment when Wonderama broadened his culinary horizons. You'll laugh, you'll think, and you'll probably want to be a whole lot more productive-this is a guy who puts pen to paper every morning without fail and spends years researching each project he takes on. As for his desert-island fridge? You'll just have to listen to find out.

Jan 7, 2016

On this week's Special Sauce, I talk to David Simon—one of the smartest, funniest, and most thoughtful serious eaters I have ever broken bread with—about how his years as a beat reporter made their way into his television work. He shares how homicide detectives use a McDonald's order to get info out of suspects. And he reveals his secret to losing weight: "I got out of New Orleans," he says, "where batter is a food group."

Dec 17, 2015

"I'm a very average cook, but I'm a very happy cook," crime novelist Laura Lippman explained to me on this week's podcast. Lippman is far from your average writer, though. The Washington Post has called her "one of the best novelists around, period." And the Chicago Sun-Times went a bit further, saying, "Lippman has enriched literature as a whole."

Why did I want her on Special Sauce? Because, besides being a terrific writer, Lippman is thoughtful, funny, and, in her own quiet way, quite obsessed with food.

As you'll find out on this week's podcast, Lippman went from 20 years of newspaper journalism to becoming an award-winning novelist after a chance meeting at a 70s theme party where Malcolm Gladwell was dancing to "Kung Fu Fighting" in the other room.

Dec 3, 2015

I've known the great comedian and actress Susie Essman for nearly 20 years, and I've always been disappointed that she'd never cursed me out the way she did her TV husband, Jeff Garlin, on Curb Your Enthusiasm. So I asked her to let me have it right away on this week's episode of Special Sauce. As you'll hear, she happily obliged.

Nov 19, 2015

Rich Torrisi's name hits headlines all the time, but the renowned chef—and managing partner of one of New York City's hottest restaurant groups—admits that he doesn't much care for all the media attention. "I don't have a taste for it, I don't really enjoy that part of it," he explains. In fact, of the trio behind Major Food Group, which owns icons like Parm, Carbone, and ZZ's Clam Bar, Torrisi is far and away the shiest. But I've also found that, given the chance to open up, he's one of the most articulate and thoughtful chefs I've had the pleasure of speaking with.

Nov 12, 2015

When I first met her more than a decade ago, Gail Simmons was no television personality. She was the not-at-all-lowly assistant to Jeffrey Steingarten, the feared and revered Vogue food critic. (And she had to survive a ridiculously arduous interview process to get there, which included wine tasting, a pop quiz about sushi, and translating a Ferran Adria text from Spanish and a Pierre Hermé recipe from French.)

There's so much more to Gail than just the charming Top Chef star, but it's fun to hear about how she became a reluctant—but grateful—television personality. On this week's episode of Special Sauce, she also reveals the contents of her desert island fridge and the menu for her last supper (which I desperately want to be invited to). I can promise that both will make your mouth water.

Nov 5, 2015

Even if you've read every one of his columns on Serious Eats and every page of his weighty tome "The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science", you'll still find out some surprising—and funny—stuff about Kenji López-Alt when you listen to Episode 2 of Special Sauce. I promise. In fact, I bet even his mom will learn some things.

Oct 29, 2015

The first episode features my good friend Phil Rosenthal, who's a successful restaurant investor and the creator of Emmy Award-winning TV show Everybody Loves Raymond. PBS is now airing his latest creative endeavor, I'll Have What Phil's Having, a funny, big-hearted, intelligent food and travel show that gives me hope for the medium. Phil is smart, hilarious, and as generously spirited a human being as I know.

On our podcast, you'll learn about Phil's adventures as an out-of-work actor, a successful sitcom creator, and yes, you'll have to listen to find out Phil's secret sauce: the advice that he got from legendary sitcom writer-director-creator Ed Weinberger (Mary Tyler Moore Show, Taxi) that I often use as a guidepost in my own creative endeavors. He'll also share some travel discoveries, restaurant pet peeves, and what we'd find in his desert island fridge.

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