Todd English, Food Trips: Japan
Did anyone else see the premier for his new show? I saw it in the home market (WGBH), so maybe we got it before it's aired elsewhere. Whatever your opinion of Todd English, the show has some promise.
It had really great footage of Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, the best I've seen. It really captured how it feels to watch the tuna auctions, and then walk through the outer market. It's great stuff, and if you've never been, this is about as close to the experience as you can get without going in person.
The second half of the show explores other kinds of Japanese cuisine (beyond sushi). There's a focus on finding Kobe beef, but really it's just more interesting to catch glimpses of the many kinds of specialized restaurants in Japan (whereas over here, you get your approximation of sushi and tempura and tonkatsu and robata all at one restaurant).
There are clips where he makes a (rare) appearance at Olives to throw together a quick recipe for us folks at home. These sections are pretty useless.
I saw it, too. Thought it was good. I used to travel to Japan, and the show brought back memories of their wonderful cuisine and customs.
When they were having the shabu shabu, and talked about how the server would cerve most of the meals on her knees. The places we visited in Osaka- the server actually came out of a small door ( about 3 feet high), brought out the food, and served it. Also, we also always had our own geisha who was there to make sure our glass was never empty!
I saw this as well -- I thought it was generally well-done, but would have been better with a whole lot less Todd English. Obviously that's impossible, since his company co-produced the show and they are no doubt intent on continuing to grow his "brand". But even after years on tv he's just not that good on camera -- awkward and oddly nervous-seeming as host, and his voiceovers are positively awful.
That said, the photography was fantastic, they chose interesting places to profile (I thought the tongue restaurant was a real find) and they spent enough time on each one to explore them in some depth, which is unusual for most food-travel shows I've seen. For my taste, actually, they moved a little TOO slowly -- I think they could have trimmed a bit and shown more types of japanese restaurants that aren't represented here in the US. BUt better that than just jumping around a lot and never really exploring anything in depth.
I thought the Olives segments were (perhaps unintentionally) enlightening, as they showed how over-the-top some of his preparations are. They'd have just shown some perfectly pristine piece of (actual) Kobe beef in Japan, simply grilled with salt, or maybe served sashimi-style. Then they'd go to the Olives kitchen and take a big hunk of "Wagyu" loin and cover it with one 12-ingredient sauce, lay it over green beans, skewer it with tongue popsicles, and then add yet another sauce. Kind of hard to see how japanese simplicity was the inspiration there!
(Small disclaimer: I used to work with someone on the show's production team.)
WGBH (Boston) co-produced the show, it looks like it showed the Japan episode first as a teaser -- more to come later in January and February. I googled up an official website for the show -- http://www.toddenglish.com/foodtrip/
but there's not much there, just a place to sign up for broadcast updates (i.e., become assimilated by the Todd English BORG). Probably simpler to go to your local public television station website and check their schedule -- it appears there's no national feed -- individual stations can choose when and if they want to air it. The show title is Todd English Food Trip, by the way -- not Trips -- which may help in trying to find broadcast times.
I have been searching and searching the internet for this program in the NY metro area .. no luck. I know WLIW carries the show, but I couldn't find this episode.
I'm going to Japan in a few months and would like to see this specific episode.