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Phantom Gourmet

I never before have watched an episode of Phantom Gourmet, but I did for the first time last night. (It was kind of ironic: I was doing an intense hill progam on my exerice bike -- it's been WAY too cold to run -- while watching the PG show on pigging out while watching the Super Bowl.) It struck me as an hour-long commercial. Is that the way it usually is, or was this just their Super Bowl special? Does any chowhound really care what this guy has to say about food?

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  1. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/415347
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/145906

    (P.S. Nothing better than watching food/cooking programs at the gym -- I feel like a hamster in a wheel chasing a carrot on a string.)

    1 Reply
    1. I watch it occasionally simply because I love hearing about food-but I dont put any stock in his opinions.

      It is always an hour long commercial...one that makes me incredibly hungry every time I see it :-)

        1. Take it seriously? No way, but you occasionally pick up a useful bit of info and the show can be entertaining.

          1. I enjoy it. I think of it as my dirty secret. It's like people who insist they do not watch TV because it's beneath them. Or reality shows. Nothing wrong with mindless entertainment.

            1 Reply
            1. re: xcptnl

              Nothing wrong with mindless entertainment ,,, as long as its entertaining!

            2. I also saw parts of this episode and I have never the commercial advertising as blatant as it was during this episode. Previously, they would cut to commercial before talking about a sponsoring restaurant but during this episode, the entire episode was made for the sponsors - Emma's in Bridgewater, Sal's Pizza, Butcher Boy in North Andover - it was essentially an infomercial.

              1. Mocking the Phantom Gourmet and its obvious whoring for its advertisers is a popular sport among Boston Chowhounds. I have picked up some useful tips from them, however. Just recognize that the only segment that seems vaguely impartial is the numeric-scored reviews, and even those are hurt by dubious scoring components like portion size (bigger is always better to the Phantom). Everything else, especially the Great Ate, seems unduly influenced by sponsors. My bigger problem is the unpleasant on-air personalities and the grating singsong of the voice-over work (done by the show's owner, the greasy-pated Dave Andelman). When I watch, it's with the sound muted.

                1. I have read all the threads bashing PG and I will admit the TV show can be annoying. However, the radio show on WTKK (Saturday nights) is hilarious. The always do a segment where people call in with their dinner plans and they tell them why they are wrong and where they should go. Of course, they recommend a lot of their sponsors but listening to them make fun of people's choices (and each other) is really funny. And from time to time, they make fun of the fact that people on CHOW hate them. On the radio show, you realize that they dont take themselves that seriously.

                  And sometimes when you had too much to drink on Saturday night, their show on Sunday morning helps you find a place to chase off that hangover.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: EvanWilliams

                    Not to beat a dead, dead, dead horse, but oh why not, once more into the breach...

                    > On the radio show, you realize that they dont take themselves that seriously.

                    I think it's obvious they don't take themselves seriously on the TV show either, but that's not the point (Weird Al doesn't take himself seriously, and I don't give a damn about his restaurant preferences either). If they want to broadcast an occasionally entertaining infomercial for mediocre restaurants, that's (literally) their business. My problem is the highly deliberate way in which they blur the distinction between paid advertisement and unbiased review.

                    A few CH posters have insisted it's instantly possible to distinguish between the unbiased reviews and the paid content on PG, but I just don't buy it. Although the whole production has an air of shameless commercialism (which, while not my thing, I don't have a problem with), I watched several episodes before I was able to get a feel for what I perceive their rules to be: actual 100-point-scale restaurant reviews are unbiased, essentially everything else is paid for, and since many more restaurants are reviewed than make it on the show, I assume restaurants also have to pay to get the 100-point reviews broadcast. And above all, these are necessarily just assumptions, because insofar as I can tell, there's nowhere they publicly post the rules by which they abide. To me, this crosses a not-so-fine line into disingenuous sleaze.

                    Phantom Gourmet isn't alone. I think we can all rest assured that Rachael Ray and Guy Fieri aren't speaking from the heart at every restaurant they visit (endorse?) for Tasty Travels or Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. But when it comes to discussions about its deceptiveness, I generally think Phantom Gourmet, Inc. deserves the lambasting it tends to get here.

                    1. re: EvanWilliams

                      Having now seen the TV show, the radio show sounds unbearable.

                      1. re: Blumie

                        I tried tuning in the radio show a couple of times, and "unbearable" is exactly the right word. "Excruciating" works, too. I couldn't get through five minutes. Nobody is as hilarious as those guys believe themselves to be, and almost nobody on radio is actually less funny.

                      2. re: EvanWilliams

                        The sad part is that WTKK USED to have a far better food show at 2pm on Saturdays, called Table Talk. The host was a food writer/editor at Boston Magazine at the time, and generally had one or more of the top area chefs/restauranteurs as in-studio guests. On occasion they'd pitch-hit as hosts - I recall Todd English helming the program at least once. Callers could answer food trivia quesitons, or ask about restaurants or recipes, and on occasion a good call would be rewarded with a gift certificate to a pricey restaurant (I once received one for $50 at Capital Grille). That show disappeared at least 5 years ago.

                      3. The Phantom Gourmet show being a big commercial? We've thought so for a while now. We used to enjoy watching it, and even went to some of the places they recommended/shilled, such as Finz in Salem and Jasper White's Summer Shack (which we'd actually heard of before the show) Don't know how Finz is now, but Summer Shack is still good, in my opinion..

                        But they would go on and on about this place called Bambino's in Malden, about how good it was and all. We live in Malden and have driven past the place thousands of times, but never went in. One night, we did, based solely on PG's recommendation.

                        The place completely sucked. It was the worst restaurant we'd been to in years. How anyone could say it was good was beyond us. That was when we woke up and realized that Bambino's was likely paying PG to gush on about the place. After that, we never went anywhere solely based on their recommendations, I look elsewhere for other opinions.

                        Bambino's ended up closing a couple of years later, and it's no great loss to us. I just wonder why it didn't close down sooner.

                        Anyhoo, we don't watch PG any more. We're sick of hearing them go on and on about the Kowloon, Halfway Cafe (which we also found to be mediocre when we tried it once), and other places who pay them the big bucks. We've never been to the Kowloon, and now have no desire to go.

                        The show used to not be as bad as it is now, and I imagine it's gotten even worse since we quit watching.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: catmommy9

                          I've never gone to a place based on their recs, in some cases actively avoiding places *due* to their rec (and will also try to dissuade people bringing me places when I learn it is based entirely on PG rec). But, FWIW, one day I was having lunch at King Fung in CTown and there were two women there eating and obviously enjoying themselves. They told the server that they heard about the place on the phantom and how the phantom never lets them down.

                          I was pleasantly surprised, King Fung wasn't the sort of joint that I'd have expected to see lovin' from the Bros Andelman. Then again, they also pushed the (shortly lived) burgers at the Cantab which seemed out of their wheelhouse as well.

                        2. Is it my imagination or wasn't the father originally the host of this show? I always felt I could trust him and the restaurants reviewed seemed to be more varied, rather than pub food. Everytime I happen to see this show it's always on burgers, hot dogs, pizza, fries and I just want to vomit from the amount of greeeeze oozing out of my television. I used to know someone who was "the phantom" and they recommended wonderful out of the way places that weren't of the pub grub ilk. Wish they would branch out and make it less of a "ha ha" show.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: RhodeIslandRed

                            I've seen Eddie Andelman, the dad, as an occasional guest, but I don't recall him ever hosting. Billy Costa, another local radio personality, was the original host, left after a contract dispute, and set up the competing TV Diner show on the NECN channel. A second host, Dave Robichaud, had a brief stint, then the brothers themselves decided to take the hosting reins. I don't think the show's patently commercial approach to reviewing has ever changed.

                            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                            1. re: RhodeIslandRed

                              The "greeeeze" quotient would go down if Dave would drop the frat-boy hairstyle...

                            2. I find this show useful in one way only: to provide imagery for places I've read about here on CH.

                              Yes, it's a pay for play mess. But, if I've been wondering about a place I've read about on CH, and then it happens to be featured on PG show, I pay attention to see what the room looks like, what the dishes look like, etc. Seeing pics and video for places I've only heard about or read in CH posts might help me decide whether to finally try a place.

                              I don't take any stock in what those clowns say in terms of ratings, and agree with Slim that turning the sound down is generally a good idea.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                                I've said it many times before, but IMO the two best uses for PG are 1) exactly what you describe and 2) getting a good dose of food porn when hungover on a saturday morning.

                              2. Yes, it is an hour long commercial at all times. What's worse though, is almost every episode is the same, and decidely not gourmet. Give yourself a dollar every time you see an episode that's not about pizza, chicken wings, subs, mozzarella sticks, and the like. You'll stay a poor man. This show should be called Frat Gourmet... and sponsors.
                                Yet, somehow I accidentally watch it every weekend. I would love to see a newcomer on this scene that speaks to creative, local, and truly good food "worth driving to". I like TV Diner better, but only slightly. Who wants to start a new show with me? Ahh, me and my lofty foodie dreams.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Nancy816

                                  Yep, the rote quality of the Phantom Gourmet TV show led me to create a drinking game for it on my blog, part of an essay that basically recaps the long-running tradition of Chowhounds busting on the show. I don't recommend actually playing the game: no one should ever drink that much inside in an hour.

                                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                    But MC, a liver is a terrible thing to waste.

                                    1. re: jjbourgeois

                                      I don't think it would be that fun. Just keeping up with the "Phantom money shot" rule (drink every time there's a shot of a flood of sauce or syrup being poured over a dish) would be too much even for the average frat boy.

                                      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                2. Last month when Nadia Suleman appeared on "The View", her sudden outbursts of staccato laughter were quite disconcerting. Happening upon PG yesterday morning, it occurred to me that if Dan Andelman and the Octomom had a child it would be the humanoid equivalent of crossing a laughing hyena with a kookaburra. Both of them should cut down on the caffeine. :>)

                                  1. Bumping up this thread to note the Andelmans' latest idiocy: pulling the old "Do you know who I am?" trick and then complaining about it when it doesn't work:

                                    http://www.universalhub.com/2011/its-...

                                    I can't wait for these pay-to-play sleazebags to disappear.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                      Here's the original blog post on the Andelmans' mistreatment of a restaurant hostess, as documented on Server Not Servant, a Boston website that advocates for more civility in dining out and other areas of life:

                                      http://www.servernotservant.com/2011/...

                                      It's useful reading, both for how it shows the Phantom Gourmet's operators to be obnoxious louts, and for how it reveals their utter ignorance of how the restaurant business works: pretty shameful for folks who hold themselves out as professional restaurant reviewers.

                                      Most Boston Chowhounds already know the score on these unspeakable con men, but I imagine this essay might give pause to the many fans of the Phantom Gourmet TV show.

                                      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                        If they had asked in the RIGHT way - maybe asking if they could have a chair for Eddie in the bar - I'm sure they would have been able to accomodate them. He's a good size - & not in the best shape - so he might have needed to sit down.
                                        On the other end of the spectrum, I had an incident many years ago in a club where I was working where someone came up to me just as we were opening & asked if they could use the service elevator to get to the 3rd floor instead of taking the stairs. I wasn't really paying attention to who it was & told him it was for employees only. As he started to walk away - with a noticeable limp - I realized it was Ted Kennedy Jr. (who has an artificial leg). I ran over to him & apoligized but before I could finish, he apologized to me (believe it or not) & said his leg was bothering him & just didn't want to try 3 flights of stairs since the service elevator was right there. I told him it was OK & let him take the elevator. About 20 minutes later, he comes down stairs & makes a point to go over to me & thank me again for letting him use the elevator & hoped I didn't get in trouble for doing that. Now that's a class act. However ............... my co-workers did tease me for the longest time about being the one who tried to make Teddy hobble up 3 flights of stairs!

                                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                                          I find myself watching TV Diner with Billie Costa as I can no longer stand the boys but I remember that the brothers managed to get rid of Costa who was the original host of PG back in the day. What was that about?

                                          1. re: Berheenia

                                            Billy Costa is obnoxious in his own way. He makes the most stupid jokes all the time plus I'm not a fan of Jenny Johnson like everyone else. I still watch both for the general restaurant info but am not a fan of any of the hosts.