Phil Rosenthal Embarks On Another Culinary Adventure In Somebody Feed Phil Season 6 - Exclusive Interview

For a long while, Phil Rosenthal was widely known as the writer, creator, and executive producer of the hit sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond." But in 2018, Rosenthal made his way in front of the camera in "Somebody Feed Phil." This beloved foodie-centric show highlights Rosenthal's passion for great food as he embarks on incredible adventures across the globe. His friendly nature and loveable energy have made the show as successful as it is, and on October 18, viewers get to watch the sixth season on Netflix. In addition to being educational, this series is utterly heartwarming.

From Philidelphia to Croatia, Season 6 follows Rosenthal as he tries new foods and learns more about the connection between food, culture, and the pursuit of happiness. During an exclusive interview with Tasting Table, Rosenthal talked about his favorite moments from the new season, shared his thoughts on cooking at home, and revealed his favorite under-the-radar LA restaurants.

A sneak peek at Season 6

During the new season, you visit Croatia, Nashville, Santiago, and a few other places. Which place that you got to visit this time around surprised you the most?

Definitely Croatia. I was expecting war-torn Yugoslavia ... In the '90s, there was a war going on, but a lot can happen in 30 years. When you get there, it reminded me of Italy, because it's right across the Adriatic from Italy — which is not a big ocean; it's a sea. There are parts of Croatia where you can look across and actually see Italy, so that's how close it is.

A lot of the architecture and even some of the food is very Italian influenced. Then you have Eastern Europe, so it's this perfect in-between or meeting point of Western and Eastern Europe. All the Eastern European specialties are there as well. We went island hopping in a boat, like Greece almost. It's beautiful, and for young people, that's a great place to start if you haven't traveled yet — because in certain places, it's half the price of Italy. It's absolutely spectacular.

What were some of your favorite things that you got to eat during Season 6?

In Croatia, there's something called a burek, which is this savory pastry with either meat or cheese in it — sometimes both. It's delicious. That's really good ... also, they made an octopus burger there. That was fantastic. I also went to one of the best seafood restaurants in the world, where you're literally sitting next to the water and the fish you're eating comes right from there and the oysters come right from there. That was unbelievable.

But everywhere I go, we find good food. In Austin, Texas, it's the barbecue capital of the world. I had something called a bacon rib, which is the pork belly, but it's still attached to the bone, so it's like a giant honking piece of bacon, thick, on the bone.

You devote one of the episodes to your parents. What is one of your favorite food memories that you have with them?

It's in the show. Some of that episode ... It's a half-hour tribute to Helen and Max, and there's some outtakes, there's some greatest hits. One of the greatest hits for me is when I was in their apartment and I was having my mom's matzo ball soup, which is the best thing she makes. There's a knock at the door — and I had arranged for one of the greatest chefs in the world to come in and try my mom's matzo ball soup.

His name is Daniel Boulud. I don't know if you've heard of Daniel [or] Restaurant Daniel in New York, but Daniel Boulud is truly one of the great French chefs in the world. He sat down in my mom's kitchen and had that matzo ball soup. That's one of my favorite moments ever of anything.

Phil Rosenthal's thoughts on The Bear

Can you tell me a bit about your book tour and some of the food stops that you have mapped out on the way?

I have not yet begun to chart my food in all the places that I'm going because they keep adding cities. I'm up to 25 cities, and I'm very excited. It's a chance for me to meet the people who've supported the show this whole time, and it's a way for me to say hi and hug the people. I'm really looking forward to that. That's the best part. The food is secondary to meeting the people for me, even in the show. The show and the book drop on the 18th, and I start the book tour on the 15th.

What are your thoughts on "The Bear," and have you ever considered writing a sitcom that's set in a restaurant?

I don't think I know enough about the way restaurants work. Even though I'm involved in many restaurants — I invest in restaurants — I don't get into the nitty-gritty. I'm such a fan that I want to support them the way that we support the arts in our town or in schools. Once I decide to invest, I stay out of it.

I trust the chefs, I bet on the chefs, and I let them do what they do. Now, I've seen enough kitchens and I've been in enough kitchens to know that "The Bear" is probably the best depiction of kitchen life ever in a show. You can tell it feels real, and it's expertly done.

The best cooking advice Phil Rosenthal has heard

Who do you consider to be your biggest culinary mentor, and what's the best cooking advice they've ever given you?

I am not a cook, so I listen to the chefs when they talk and I understand it, but I don't have the talent or the temperament to do it. I'm very happy to let them do what they do. People say, "You have this food and travel show and you can't cook?" Yeah — I meet a lot of great chefs in the world. They can't write a sitcom. We all contribute in our way. I don't have to cook to appreciate what they do.

The best advice [has] been ... Well, I asked Thomas Keller. I was very surprised to hear this. What is his number one thing in a restaurant or his pet peeve about a restaurant? You'd be shocked. He said, "The under-salting of food." The under-salting is the biggest crime he finds in kitchens. I was surprised to hear that.

He's all about flavor. The great chefs are all about flavor. Listen, I've had some meals — I'm sure you have too — that are over-salted, but that's not what he said. He said under-salted. Everybody's palate is different, so he could like something saltier than me. I don't know. I do know that when I eat in his restaurant, every bite of food is pretty damn good. But he's a mentor, of course.

Nancy Silverton might be my favorite chef. Everything she does is delicious. She can't make a bad move. My friend Daniele Uditi from Pizzana — he's a genius. I've gotten to try not just his pizza, but he can cook many, many other things, including cuisines from places he's not from. He has this brilliant mind and understands how ingredients work together, and he's very creative and very talented. I'm in awe of these artists.

From behind the camera to in front of it

How was it transitioning from behind the camera in "Everybody Loves Raymond" to being the star of your own show?

I made a movie called "Exporting Raymond." Did you ever hear of that? When "Raymond" was finished, I got a call from Russia. They wanted me to come over there and help them turn my sitcom into "Everybody Loves Kostya" — the Russian version. I said I would gladly come and help. This was a long time ago. This was 12 years ago, so I said I would gladly come and help if I can film the whole process, because I think this could be interesting, if not funny.

It turns out to be very funny, because once I got there, they didn't listen to me at all. The movie is a comedy about a guy who thinks he's an expert in something, my show. I go to a land where nobody cares, and the movie is the first time that I'm on camera ... Not that I was paying much attention to being on camera — I had a job to do — but people saw that, and I started getting queries about whether I'd be interested in doing something else.

I've always wanted to do a food and travel show. The way I sold the show was, "I'm exactly like Anthony Bourdain if he was afraid of everything," which tells you where I'm coming from. At first, I did it on PBS. We did six episodes there, and then Netflix came along. That's how it's been — almost accidental.

Dining in and dining out

I know you don't really like to cook, but do you have a favorite thing to cook at home?

My favorite thing to cook at home is a hot dog, eggs, a bowl of cereal, a tuna sandwich — things that children can make. I also make very good takeout orders.

What is your favorite under-the-radar restaurant in Los Angeles right now?

A new place just opened called Bub and Grandma's Cafe. Have you heard of that in Eagle Rock? ... They do some of the best bread, and a lot of the great restaurants have the bread. Again, geniuses — they take this world-class bread, they bake it fresh every day, and now they're filling it with ingredients that are just as good as the bread. You can get amazing sandwiches and things from [them] ... They're great. I can't say enough good things about them. I wish they were even closer than they are to my house.

Also, Pizzeria Bianco. In the afternoon, he's doing New York-style pizzas from a gas oven — just like New York, big slices. At night, it's Pizzeria Bianco from Phoenix, the wood-fired pizza he's famous for that Nancy Silverton was inspired by when she opened Pizzeria Mozza, and now the guys here. I'm telling you, we have pizza as good as New York right here.

"Somebody Feed Phil" Season 6 premieres October 18 on Netflix.

This interview was edited for clarity.