Interview with Renowned Actor & Food Enthusiast,
Lou Diamond Phillips

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Interview with Renowned Actor & Food Enthusiast, Lou Diamond PhillipsEat My Globe
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Lou Diamond Phillips Episode Notes

In this episode of Eat My Globe, our host, Simon Majumdar chats to legendary star of film, stage and television, Mr. Lou Diamond Phillips, who as well as being one of the most in demand actors in the world, is also an obsessive fan of food and cooking. Simon “challenges” Lou to select five films that can earn a place in the coveted Eat My Globe culinary pantheon. It’s a conversation that will definitely make you hungry.

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TRANSCRIPT

Eat My Globe

Interview with Lou Diamond Phillips


MUSIC


SIMON:

Hi everybody, this is Simon Majumdar, the creator and host of the Eat My Globe food history podcast. Now, those of you have been listening to the podcast since we began over two years ago – nearly 50 episodes so far – will know that we have never sought out sponsorship for the podcast. It’s very much been a labor of love. However, along the way, a large number of people have approached us suggesting they would like to support the podcast. And so, we have opened up a page on Patreon dot com to allow those of you who listen regularly to do just that. Any support we will get will allow us to purchase research materials, buy ingredients for recipes, and maybe, when we can get out and about, to bring you some very special in-the-field reporting. But, and this is really important. This is not just a one-way street. For varying levels of membership of our Patreon club, there will be access to fantastic Eat My Globe swag, including that incredible chopping board so many of you have written to me about, recipes based on historical periods about which we chat each week, video shout outs, signed pictures, and even along the way, some very special episodes just for members. So, if you’ve enjoyed the episodes of Eat My Globe you’ve listened to so far, and would like us to make many more into the future, do head over to www dot Patreon dot com slash Eat My Globe and consider taking out a membership. Any support will be much appreciated. Remember, that’s www dot Patreon dot com slash Eat My Globe. So, thank you very much, and keep listening.


INTRO MUSIC


SIMON MAJUMDAR (“SM”):

Hey everybody. And welcome to a brand-new episode of Eat My Globe. A podcast about things you didn't know you didn't know about food. And on this very, very special episode, I am so thrilled to bring in a gentleman who I have known for many, many years, as I know, so many of you have through his work, both in the theater, through his work on television, and, of course, his work in many, many splendid films.


Uh, and that is Mr. Lou Diamond Phillips. But, I'm going to give just a little personal introduction about how I began to realize just how passionate he was about food.

In 2012, I think it was, and Lou will correct me if I'm wrong. When I moved over here from the United Kingdom, I started watching a lot of Food Network cause I'd started appearing on a number of shows at that point, things like “Iron Chef” and not quite “Cutthroat Kitchen” at that point. But “Iron Chef,” particularly.


And I started watching a lot of Food Network shows and I watched one called “Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off.” I think it was the first season with a very good cast, if I remember rightly, like Taylor Dane and Coolio and Mr. Lou Diamond Phillips, who, of course, I'd known who I'd seen in many, many films, and I'd also seen, uh, playing the king in “The King and I” on Broadway. I didn't. . . might not have known this. I just reminded my wife that I had done that in 1996, I want to say.


Anyway. So I started watching him go, well, who is this guy? And why is he here? And throughout the series, I just noticed that not only was this guy, you know, very enthusiastic about food, which is probably why he’s on the show, but he was also rather good.


And in the finale of this, which if I'm trying to remember rightly, again, was against Coolio. So it’s a very odd finale. So Lou Diamond Phillips battles Coolio in a Food Network program. Only on the Food Network.


You and I. . . . You'll tell me about this in a moment, Lou, you ended up cooking a dish twice or tomato sauce twice because you were so aggrieved with how it had come up the first time. And I immediately went on Twitter after you won. And I said, this guy could really cook. And you replied, just about immediately, and I don’t know how you kind of knew me or it was just maybe I mentioned you in this. And that's how we got to know each other. And we've ended up having drinks together. We've ended up connecting on Food Network.


So, that was how I got to know that you, Lou Diamond Phillips, not only are enthusiastic about food, but you're really, really good at food.


Um, so perhaps before we go on to the challenge and we can tell people why you're here, just tell us about that experience. Tell us about your passion, but also your expertise for food, which is as good as many chefs, who I've met.


LOU DIAMOND PHILLIPS (“LDP”):

Incredibly, incredibly high praise coming from you, Simon, I have to say.


I mean, I, I responded to you immediately because I was already a fan of yours.


SM:

Aww.


LDP:

Honestly, just, just listening to your critique, not only of, of, uh, um, food, but you know, the, the creativity that goes behind it, the passion that goes behind it, it's, it's not just technical. It's, it's very much about the love of cooking. And, uh, you know, I mean, and I mean, my God, you, you, you present quite, quite impressive presence, sir, I must say.


SM:

[Laughter]


LDP:

Uh, uh, and, and so, uh, you know, I was, I was very eager to, to form that relationship with you, um, because we have that in common. Uh, and, and what's what I love. And what I so appreciate about your praise, uh, is the fact that I'm not, I'm not a trained chef.


I, I never took a cooking class. Uh, all of my food knowledge, all of my, uh, ability in the kitchen, uh, is, is learned behavior from a lifetime of cooking. You know, uh, I mean, starting out with, you know, my, my Filipino mother who, you know, taught me a lot when I was younger and would let me cook once a week. Uh, and then some of my earlier jobs, you know, down in Corpus Christi, Texas flipping burgers at Whataburger, or being a breakfast cook at, uh, a little tiny surf shop [inaudible] on Padre Island, uh, you know, or even being, you know, like the cleanup guy in the kitchen, uh, on the base, you know. So, and then as, as, as I, I got to expand my horizons, thank goodness to this career, and eat food, amazing food around the world and eat in wonderful restaurants, you know, my food knowledge just sort of increased in that. I sort of applied it, you know, uh, as I went along.


So, so, uh, when “Rachael vs Guy” came up here, that was, that was a dream come true. Uh, uh, the, uh, the big snafu always, uh, uh, is, is the time. . .


SM:

Yes.


LDP:

. . . that time, you know, I mean, I'm the kind of guy, you know, you'd get a glass of wine, you cook for two, three hours. I've gotten better.


[Laughter]


SM:

[Laughter]


LDP:

I've gotten better at cooking, you know, uh, in a, in a, a more efficient fashion, but also, uh, cleaning as I go, which is something my wife has taught me. [Laughter] I used to be terrible with just a sink full of dirty dishes, you know, before the mural got finished. Um, and so, you know, the, the, my culinary journey, you know, continues to this day. And that's why I'm thrilled to be here talking to you.


SM:

One of the things I noticed is that you are completely kind of what I, I think is the greatest thing for any chefs – and I would call you a chef – is intellectually curious all the time. So whenever you see something, I can always see you reading about it, whether it's food or not related, you are one of those people, I think just has this level of intellectual curiosity. And I think as a chef, I think that is the greatest ability, you know, and I would put you then in the my. . .  in the same link as when I talk about Alton Brown, when I talk about Guy Fieri. They're always looking there. . . and you see this, when you worked with Guy, they're always looking for something new, they're always asking questions. They're always, I get texts from, you know, whether it's Alton or somebody else go, what, what do you know about this? Can you tell me something about this? So I find that, and I put you in that link, and I think that's really important.


But we did kind of set you up with a challenge here. The reason I got in touch was because last week I did a rather longer kind of, uh, essay, as it were, for Eat My Globe on “The History of Food in Cinema.” And I think food has developed, or cinema has developed this ability of showing food to the point now that we have films that are specifically based on food. And I talked about some last week like “Babette's Feast” or “The Cook, The Thief, [His Wife and Her] Lover.” I talked about some of these amazing films. And I, so I sent you a challenge and you were very kind to join in.


So before we go into that, give us some of your, kind of, thought processes.


LDP:

I, you know, it's, it's interesting. I, um, the first criteria and, and, and it's, and I'm going to paraphrase here, but it's, it's that Maya Angelou quote, you know, uh, uh, people won't remember what you said, but they will remember how they made you feel, you know?

Uh, and, and, uh, that what I think of these scenes of why I've chosen certain, uh, scenes or even complete films, uh, it was, it was because they, they, they sort of had emotional resonance with me, uh, when I watched them. Uh, and, and when you’re talking about food, I think, especially – uh, and, and this is a credit to great directors – uh, you were, you smell it, man. You, you taste it, it becomes this entirely sensory experience, even while you were watching a movie. And, and, uh, that, that is the, uh, um, uh, I think, great accomplishment of some great directors.


Uh, it's interesting because I'm developing the project now, wherein automatically I'm going, I want to know how that tastes. I want to, you know, well, uh, there's a cultural component to this project that I might direct where it's like, I've got to get that right. I've got to put somebody who's never been to this place in that place to where even if, even if they they've never tasted something like this, they think they can smell it. They think they can, you know, experience it. And maybe, you know, it'll, it'll prompt them to, to go and do that. So that was, that was, you know, my first thought when I, when I started thinking about what had an effect on me, uh, uh, when watching some of these films.


SM:

I think that's really a really vital part of it. And even, I will say, in films that I don't particularly like, and I say this about “Babette’s Feast,” I said, while I was doing the episode on it, that I fast forward to the food scenes.


LDP:

[Laughter]


SM:

And I will often watch it just to go to the food scenes, which are remarkable. Whereas the rest of the film sends me to sleep probably quicker than an ambien, you know. So, but, but the food scenes are incredible. And I think often there are so many of these, but hopefully with a lot of what we're going to talk about now, these are films that people might want to watch the whole way through if they haven't seen them already.


So let's, let's start. And I know looking at the list that you've sent me, and I've got some challenges along the way, because I think you've made, you've made some very good choices. Uh, you know, some, I might question where you came at them from. Uh, but, uh, what's your, what are your first choice? What's choice number one?


LDP:

Um, “The Godfather.” And that's I and II, to be honest. Uh, uh, which is, you know, I mean, that's one of my top three favorite films, and I put them together as one film, always, in my mind. Um, and I just, I just, I remember it because I saw when I was very young, one of the first things that, you know, uh, one of the scenes, just so many other scenes, you know, resonate with other people. But it was Clemenza when, when, uh, um, you know, they decided to go to the mattresses, you know, when they were at war with the other families, Clemenza’s teaching Michael how to make sauce. . .


SM:

[Laughter]


Yes.


LDP:

. . . or gravy, as a lot of the Italians would say. And it's like, wow, of course. You know, there's the old phrase, an army, you know, uh, marches on its stomach, you know? And, and so you got to feed people and it's like, it's so basic. You know, there, there there's this, this, uh, massive competition among the families, it's a life and death situation, but here's one of the most important things, man, let me teach you how to make some sauce [Laughter] you know. And he's putting in the sausage and he's putting in the meat and he talked about, you know, uh, cooking the tomatoes down, you know, making the sauce from scratch. Uh, and I, and you, you mentioned Scott Conant. Well, before we were on the air, you know, I now make my own tomato sauce, you know, thanks to Scott Conant. I discovered how to do that, you know? Uh, and, and, uh, what's interesting too about that is how it's layered in throughout, you know, uh, the second film.

And the funny thing is Bruno Kirby, who I loved that I knew the man, what a wonderful. . .


SM:

Awww.


LDP:

. . . wonderful man. He. . . you. . . in almost every scene you see Bruno Kirby in, in “The Godfather II,” he's eating.


SM:

[Laughter]


LDP:

And it's, and it's because it's like, oh, this is how thin Bruno Kirby becomes fat Clemenza in the first one, because it's a prequel cause he's always eating a sausage sandwich or you see him having, you know, spaghetti over it. Uh, you know, Don Corleone’s, you know, home when they're younger. And so there's this through line, you know, uh, they're always gathering around the, uh, the table. Man is always cooking.


SM:

And also, I mean, the number of references, the ones that, you know, people sort of, you know, grab the cannoli and all of this that we get.


LDP:

Drop the gun.


SM:

Yeah. Drop the gun, grab the cannoli. And. . . But I, so I'm going to, I'm going to throw out a challenge here. Or not even a challenge. I want to ask you because I'm, uh, maybe I'm one of the few in the world who doesn't hate “Godfather III.”


LDP:

I never saw it because, because, because I was, it just, I think the first two are so perfect in my mind. I never watched the third one [inaudible]. I just, I don't want this to sort of taint my memory. Well, I may be wrong. Maybe I should go back and look at it.


SM:

So the reason I'm going to say it, particularly with food, there is a scene in, uh, “Godfather III,” and it features the much maligned, at that point, although she's become very respected as a director, Sofia Coppola, uh, with Vincent, the character, and he is teaching – after their parents have been threatened in a battle – uh, she's, he's teaching her how to make gnocchi. And I guarantee you is one of the sexiest scenes ever seen in the cinema.


And so if nothing else, if you get the chance go and I'm sure it's all on YouTube, go and have a look at this scene of this rather handsome, you know, uh, mobster teaching this kind of slightly inexperienced woman who comes from the family being shown how to make gnocchi. And even just for that, if you watch nothing else of that film. But I am a great believer that a lot of it has a lot of, I, for example, I really enjoy kind of the Pacino coming out, trying to get out. And they dragged me back in.


There's a lot of elements of it that I think are worthwhile, but that scene with gnocchi would have been, and I would have chosen it, if it had been me, I would have put that as my number, one of my number ones for this. So that, so that was my, not my question, cause obviously you haven't seen it.


But I'd love to know when we can share this thought on Twitter, if you go and watch it and tell me what you think of it, because I think it fits in to that whole food. And for me, interestingly, I think loyalty, all the different aspects of “The Godfather” that flow through it, food is the prism that brings this whole film together. And it brings, I think brings “Godfather III,” as I said, too much maligned in my view, back into the family. So I'd love to know if you go and watch it and go and see it, I think you'd enjoy it.


LDP:

I will, I will accept that mission.


SM:

[Laughter]


Excellent. Excellent.


Now we're not going to have any arguments about your second choice because I think it's probably up there with my favorite of all. And, in fact, was on my list of the top five that I did, uh, talked about last week. So tell everyone what your second choice is.


LDP:

Well, uh, “Big Night.” I mean, just, just, uh, it's charming and beautiful and vital throughout, throughout, you know, it's just so, um, difficult to, uh, uh, pick a favorite scene in that, you know.


SM:

Could you. . . sorry, sorry to interrupt. Could you tell everyone for who might not know, and if they're a food fan, again, you should definitely go out to watch this because I think there's one of the. . . could you tell them what the “Big Night” is? Because some people may not know it.


LDP:

And well, they, they need to. It's, it's, it's a beautiful, uh, independent film, uh, Stanley Tucci and, uh, Tony Shalhoub are brothers, Primo and Secondo. Uh, they have a little Italian restaurant. I, I, I, it escapes me. It’s in the Queens.


SM:

It's in New Jersey.


LDP:

It's in New Jersey. Okay. I thought it was one of the five burroughs. So, uh, and, and, um, Tucci, who just won an Emmy, I mean, you know, for, you know, touring Italy, I mean, Hey, nice, nice gig if you can get it.


SM:

Absolutely.


LDP:

Right. You know, he's the maitre’d and he's the business mind. Uh, and, and Tony Shalhoub, who I adore, uh, you know, is, is, is the artist, he's the chef. He's the reason, you know, that, that, uh, there, this restaurant exists and he is the conduit to the old recipes, you know, to their family, to their continuity. And, and that in itself is the, is the metaphor of the film. Um, but they're, they're be, they're being, um, uh, overrun, overwhelmed by, by this restaurant across the street. You know, th th that is Americanizing, you know, all, all, all of these Italian recipes.


You know, I mean, I loved the one scene. This woman asked you and she gets her plate of spaghetti. And she goes, well, where's the meatball?


SM:

[Laughter]


Yes.


LDP:

Which he has to say, eh, sometimes it's spaghetti likes to be alone.


[Laughter]


And, uh, it's just brilliant stuff. And, and, to. . . it’s actually Louis Prima.


SM:

Yes.


LDP:

They, they, they, uh, I can't remember. They somehow, uh, Louis Prima is going to show up in the restaurant. And if they can, if they could give him a meal that he'll never forget a meal of a lifetime, then, then, uh, you know, the, the he'll talk about the restaurant they'll become a success. So they're, they're, they're, they're rooting everything, all of their money. They're about to go under, they're putting all of their energy into this big night where this, this man could, you know, potentially save their restaurant, you know. And Isabella Rossellini, who is the wife of their competitor, you know, is, is helping get this, you know, to happen.


It's, it's just beautiful and there's cooking all along the way. But, but, uh, it it's very much about the purity. And it's. . . it, it translates to, to art, you know, to, to being an amazing painter or a sculptor or a dancer, or what a writer or whatever. It's like, I cannot compromise my art for the sake of commerce. And, and, uh, that, that is the, uh, I think the overriding theme, you know, to all of this. And it's, it's just, it's just an amazing piece of work. And, and now knowing, you know, both, uh, Stanley and, and, uh, Tony, it's so evident that they cook, you know, it is so evident that they are both chefs, you know.


SM:

Well, the, the, uh, screenplay. . . wasn't that Stanley Tucci’s screenplay that they used for this, or I think, I think it might've come from that. And for me, it builds up, it builds up from that quiet desperation at the beginning, where he talks to the lady who wants meatballs, and he goes, we'll make this, we could make this, but it might take 30 minutes and they have screaming if they don't get the food in front of them, because of the kind of more Americanized.


And I want to say here, just in case people kind of get angry about it. I love Americanized Italian food. I think, I treat it as a separate cuisine. And, uh, one of my very good friends on Food Network who you I'm sure you will know, Antonia Lofaso, has an amazing restaurant in LA called, Scopa, which specializes in doing just extraordinarily beautiful Americanized Italian food with such passion and joy.


So I'm not criticizing American Italian food. What I'm saying is the authenticity of this food all the way through this film, I think, is incredible to the point where at the end of it, where they're making the big pasta pie that they bring out. And to me, that's the moment, and you said it, that's the moment where food goes from being a craft to an art. And when they're carrying out that almost a sculpture to Italian cuisine, it to me, I still get shivers when I watch that. I get goosebumps. And I obviously, I'm not fortunate enough to know them. I wish I could just to talk to them about that thought process, but that whole moment, despite the defeat, because without giving spoilers away of things that happened during it, that the joy of what they achieved during that meal, they don't seem unhappy.


LDP:

No, no. Uh, the. . . it's interesting. . . the scene that I always go to, and I look at this, not only as a, someone who cooks, but as an actor, uh, it's the next morning. There's one take it's one take, it's a wide shot. They never cut in for coverage. And in that one take. . .


SM:

Yup.


LDP:

. . . the empty kitchen. Shalhoub walks in. Cracks a bunch of eggs into a bowl. Whisks them up. He makes the most simple, most beautiful sort of egg omelets right there in one shot, finishes it, you know, put a little olive oil on the pan. He finishes the egg, cuts it into three pieces for, for himself, the brother and the sous chef. And they sit down and they, they, they, they have, you know, the, the omelet. And it's all in one take. It's like a two-three minute tape. That that's amazing where he does this from start to finish, you know. And not, not only as a cook, but as an actor. I'm going, oh God, I, if I screw this up, we can't help. There's no coverage. You can't use the take and you've got to keep it perfect from top to bottom.


SM:

I know. I love that. And I think I watch it very regularly, that film. I'm going to have to go and watch it again, because every time there's something in it. It's like the food version of “Spinal Tap.” Every time I watch it, there's something in it.


LDP:

[Laughter]


SM:

You see where you go? I don't know. I didn't even remember that. So, well, no argument is about that. I think “Big Night,” definitely in there. “Godfather,” of course, is in there. But I'm urging you to go watch “Godfather III.”


The next one? The next one's a film that I actually don't like at all. And we're going to, sorry. . .


LDP:

What?


SM:

So, I'm going to have a chat with you about this one. So come on. So tell us what number, number three is. And then we can have a little bit of an, we're going to have a little bit of an argument. He says, rubbing his hands together.


LDP:

Oh, no, we're not going to have an argument. We're not going to have an argument. Uh, I put it on there because it's a food movie. Not because it's one of my favorites.


SM:

Oh.


LDP:

Uh, I can agree on that right now.


[Laughter]


SM:

Oh. That's good. So tell me, so tell me what you've put on there as number three and tell everyone about. . .


LDP:

It’s “Chef,” yes?


SM:

Yes. So tell everyone about this film, if they haven't seen it already and now, and then we'll have a chat about it because it's, it's one that annoys me a little bit.


LDP:

I agree. Uh, I agree. Absolutely. I agree. Um, it's, it's, uh, Jon Favreau, uh, you know, it's. . . What, what is interesting about it is that it's, I don't know. It, it, it has, it has the whiff of a vanity project. . .


SM:

Yes, yes.


LDP:

. . . you know, and, and it's, it's Jon Favreau, obviously, you know. Very, very powerful guy in Hollywood so I’ll probably never get to work. . .


SM:

[Laughter]


LDP:

. . . but hey, you've never, never hired me for Spider-Man anyway. Uh, so. . .


[Laughter]


. . . um, you know, I, I have a feeling that he, that he, that he took a lot of classes and everything else, and, you know, and then, you know, obviously he’s a very powerful, very wealthy guy, but I mean, I mean, his knife skills in that, I went, oh my God. Okay. You know, I mean, he cuts the zucchini and I went. . .  that needs to be on, uh, you know, the Food Network, uh, because I, I think, I think it's a passion of his. I think it's certainly something that, you know, he does well. But the, the story ended up itself of a restauranteur, once again, who fancies himself to be a, an auteur, an artist, you know, and then, and then ends up losing his restaurant and going the food truck route, and I think that the, uh, the plot in and of itself is a bit formulaic. Uh, but I did do it because it does have some lovely scenes of him cooking, which he does well.


SM:

I, I, I think one of the problems I have with this as a film is one of the things I dislike about certain chefs, and I'm not going to name any names here, although I could easily pull out a list, is when they take themselves so. . . .  I. . .  absolutely take your craft seriously, absolutely take what you do seriously, but I don't like it when they take themselves seriously.


So now I think we we've, we've dumped on Jon Favreau. Not that he ever needs to be. I just want to put another shout out yet. Not that there has any relevance to what we're talking about now of, of all your many, many roles that I have loved over the years long before we even got to talk long. “Longmire” was one of my favorites, and I just want to say that was one of my greats. You did about six seasons, I think, in the end, or maybe. . .


LDP:

Yes.


SM:

And, uh, absolutely loved that. And that, and more recently, I was most distraught about “Prodigal Son,” which I absolutely loved and was just. . .


LDP:

Uh. I'm still, I'm still befuddled by that. I'm still flabbergasted, uh, how, how they canceled this. I mean, not only, uh, do we have an amazing following here, uh, and, and they did not adjust their, their, their, uh, metric, you know, for, for COVID or anything else, you know? Oh my gosh, it's expensive. Well, yeah, we added $20 million to keep everybody safe and healthy. And yet you wanted a product during that time, you know, so they, they can't hold, you know, us going over budget against us. Not to mention the fact that the film, I mean, the, the, the series is a hit in the UK. It's a hit in Spain. It's a hit in Australia. It's like, it seems very short-sighted to me to, you know, uh, um, not, not let us, you know, sit in the oven a little bit longer, you know what I mean.


SM:

And what a cast.


LDP:

Amazing cast. Amazing cast. Ridiculous writers. I've got to direct one as well.


SM:

Oh wow.


LDP:

And, just, just, uh, punished for being, unlike anything else on television.


SM:

Yes.


LDP:

You know, it's just, it's, it's beyond me. It's really beyond me because I thought, I thought that that for what it was trying to do, it was, it was fast approaching perfection.


SM:

It was. . . we loved it. We watched it all the time and, you know, particularly scenes with everybody. But when you, and I mean, two of my favorite people on. . . you and Michael Sheen, just spending time together, and he's just brilliant. And I love watching that.

This has got nothing to do with it, food, or with films with food in it. But I, you know, it's my podcast. And if I want to shout about “Prodigal Son” being taken off air, then I am going to do it on my podcast. So, I just want to . . .


LDP:

Yes, sir.


SM:

But that way now. Now to hit the next one. . .


LDP:

[Laughter]


SM:

The next one is, well, first of all, and I'd seen this film, but I hadn't, I'm not, I'm not gonna lie. I hadn't seen this film for many years. Cause I think it was. . .


LDP:

Yeah.


SM:

. . . I think it was mid eighties,


LDP:

97.


SM:

Okay. Maybe I'm getting confused. So, um, so 97 and, um, and you've chosen it. And it’s got you in it. So I’m. . .


LDP:

Well, first of all, speaking of self serving.


[Laughter]


And I know, and I'm guilty of this too. So there you go.


SM:

What with you in it? But what I have to say, I went and watched it. And, it's really fun.


LDP:

It's ridiculous. It is so over the top, uh, it was, I I've had the good fortune a couple of times of being in projects, not to pat myself on the back, but they were ahead of the curve that, that were ahead of their own time. I did a series called “Wolf Lake,” which sadly enough was supposed to, uh, premiered, uh, September 12th, 2001. Obviously we know that in history, uh, and not to trivialize world events, but you know what I mean, uh, a werewolf television series was not on anybody's comfort list at the time. So the, the, the, the series failed, although it was quite good. And once again, a ridiculous cast. Um, but. . .


SM:

So tell us about this, this film, because we haven't mentioned its name yet.


LDP:

No, so, yeah, so that was three or four years ahead of “Twilight.” Little ahead of its time. “The Big Hit” is a hip hop, black comedy Hong Kong action movie.


SM:

Fantastic.


LDP:

And, and that mashup was an absolute, uh, overwhelming kaleidoscope of styles and, and, and, and tone. Uh, and, and I don't know if the mainstream audience, uh, was quite ready for it. Although the movie opened up at number one, uh, and it's myself and Mark Wahlberg before he became such a major star. It was really, uh, one of those moments in his transition, uh, and, uh, was, uh, directed by Che-Kirk Wong, who was a, uh, John Woo produced it.


SM:

Yup.


LDP:

And this was before “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” uh, before, you know, sort of, sort of, uh, hip hop had kind of, uh, come into the mainstream. So we were ahead in so many ways, and it's one of my favorite, favorite films of mine, and one of my favorite roles of mine, because it is so over the top.


SM:

[Laughter]


LDP:

It is so. . . . I mean, Che-Kirk Wong just [inaudible], you know, and, and, and just, you know, not everything made the movie cause some of it was just ridiculous.


SM:

[Laughter]


LDP:

But it's one of the silliest characters I've ever played, but one of the most fun. Uh, and one of the most clever films, uh, not for everybody. But it's, you know, it, it is a lot of fun.


And there is a scene in it. This is only one scene where, uh, Mark Wahlberg is, uh, we we've kidnapped, uh, China Chow, uh, who is the daughter of our, our bosses. Our godfather boss was played by Avery Brooks. Uh, Sab Shimono is his best friend. He's the godfather. We were not very smart hitting that.


SM:

[Laughter]


LDP:

We're trying to make some money. So we've kidnapped the goddaughter of our boss without knowing that it was a goddaughter of our boss. And, uh, he is meanwhile, engaged to Christina Applegate again, amazing. . .


SM:

Incredible.


LDP:

. . . experience. Elliot Gould and Lainie Kazan, and he's offered to cook them a kosher meal. So he unties his, uh, the, the hostage, uh, there, they sent the family off through the afternoon, and they're going to cook a kosher meal and they're in the kitchen trying to cook this kosher meal. And there is, uh, basically a foreplay scene, a love scene, where they're rubbing this chicken down, this dropped chicken with butter, and it is so blatantly, like everything else in the movie, sexual and over the top. And these lingering looks, you know, it reminded me of, you know, Tom Jones from the sixties and how, when they're eating, you know, at the dinner table, that the actual act of unity becomes foreplay. You know, uh, this, this food preparation was that for me. So, uh, I kind of put it off on there because I, I've never been so guilty of laughing so hard in a scene.


SM:

Although I've got to. . . I’m going to. . . My only kind of upset about this note. I think the food city is absolutely fantastic. And one of the things that it does. . . You know sometimes when people describe food as sexy, we kind of kind of roll our eyes and go, yeah, because we do. But in this, it is actually very. . . because it's directly meant to be sexual.


LDP:

Yes.


SM:

I mean, there's no. . . there no. . . there’s nobody's hiding the fact that this is, it's not, Ooh, it's a little bit like, it's absolutely like.


LDP:

When he’s seasoning the cavity. . . [Laughter] [Inaudible]. I shouldn’t be watching this.


SM:

Yeah. So definitely if you're watching it with children, just be careful because they might ask you a few questions on that particular scene. I remember when I was watching it again. Um, but the other side is, and this maybe is just because we've got to know each other. Um, you don't come to a good end and that's not a spoiler because people would go off and, and I was like, oh, he's, he's basically chosen a film in which he dies. I was like in a not terribly nice way, if I remember rightly.


LDP:

It's after a really great, great, great fight. Uh, yeah. And then an explosion. So, but I mean, the funny thing is we actually talked about a sequel for a little bit, uh, with the same cast, you know, I mean, as you recall, I think I survived at a couple of times, you know, in the film. It wouldn't, uh, it would have been too difficult to given the tone of it all for me to come back, you know, or we might even more evil twin brother, which would have been fine. Although I have to note that, a lot of times, uh, in movies where I died, they’re hits, or if I get the crap kicked out of me, they're also hits. So that says a lot about my fan base.


SM:

[Cross talk]


They like to see you suffer.


[Laughter]


It's so funny. I hadn't thought about this. I’m going to have to watch loads of them.


Well, you know what, a) because it's you, and b) because I've been a fan of yours for such a long time, I think that's absolutely fine. And it is a really, really fantastic food scene in a film that has nothing else to do with food at all.


LDP:

Sure.


SM:

And actually that's fine too.


LDP:

Yeah.


SM:

You know, the one that, one of the ones that I know I mentioned last week was Laurel and Hardy, who I adore. And in fact, one of the first things I asked Sybil to do when I moved over here from the UK, the very first thing I asked her to do, was to drive me up to Silverlake so I could go and stand on the steps of “The Music Box,” where they push the piano.


And I just said, I, before I do anything else in Los Angeles, I have to go on those. Uh, but there was one where Laurel, where Oliver Hardy is in the hospital and Stanley comes to visit him. And he goes, and it was just the line that has become associated with him. He goes, I brought you some hard boiled eggs and nuts. And the whole thing, the whole show. . . uh, the whole short is about them trying to eat these hard-boiled eggs and nuts while Oliver's in this pulley system for his broken leg. And you can imagine the kind of chaos that ensues. But it's just hard boiled eggs and nuts has become it. And so, uh, yeah, but it's almost got nothing to do with the food. It's just the chaos that arrives around it. So.


LDP:

It's supposed to be mine. Is it Laurel and Hardy with the grapefruit eating scene or is it Three Stooges? Cause there's a, there's a grapefruit eating scene where, where, uh, the person eating it keeps getting squirted in the eye and it's hilarious. . .


SM:

I think that is the Three Stooges. But Laurel and Hardy had so much with, um, we're just chatting now, which is great because, um. . . But one of my other favorites is Laurel and Hardy, where they have no money apart from enough to buy one pint of beer. They go, we'll drink one half each and Stan Laurel drinks it all. And Oliver Hardy goes, why did you drink it all? He goes, my half was on the bottom.


LDP:

[Laughter]


SM:

And it's just, it's ju. . .  it's just so beautifully done. And it's Stan Laurel and it's, you know. And so when you see these scenes and, you know, I talked about Chaplin with the bread rolls in the. . . and eating the boot, which was apparently made of licorice in the, uh, the gray, uh, what you call it, the gold rush and, and you see just the impact of food through history. So I think it's, uh, it's absolutely fine to have something where it's just certain scenes in films that aren't necessarily food films as well.


But I think for your, for your last film that we're going to for short here, this, this of all of many, and I actually it's, I'm gonna just share with everyone it's an animation. Um, and for me, you know, I mentioned one of my favorite food films. And lot of chefs will tell you if they want, if you want to know what food looks like in a kitchen or what preparing food, they will say, go and watch “Ratatouille.”


LDP:

I was just going to say that. Amazing. I should have put that on the list.


SM:

Well, I, I mentioned it last week.


LDP:

Uh, I liked that more than “Chef.”


SM:

Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I would rather watch “Ratatouille” than “Chef.” Um, but what I love, what I love about the animation, the way they bring that in motion into it. And this is the nature of. . . I always say food can save a life. It actually saved my life. And I, I, that's a long story that I'll share for another time, but it literally saved my life, um, when I was having a very dark time. And the film that you're going to choose, and I'll let you mention it is all about food, saving a life, I think. And I think that's what food could do and how you can achieve that in a, in a short animation is extraordinary to me. So please tell us a little bit about your final choice.


LDP:

Uh, it's, I don’t know. I was just so struck by this short film for so many reasons. Um, and, uh, it's called “Bao.” B-A-O, “Bao,” uh, you know, with the little dumplings. And it's, it's, it's charming. It's metaphorical. Uh it's. I don't know. It's, it's, it's only a couple of years old. Um, it was nominated for an Oscar. I don't know if it won it or not. But, um, it, it just brought in so many things. Uh, we we've talked about tradition. You know, we, we talked about, you know, uh, um, and, and this is a, an Asian mom. And so this film, this little short film, you know, is about, is about the traditions of bringing your food, your culture to, you know, to America. Uh, and, and, and, uh, the, the little, the little bao becomes a little boy, you know. This is metaphorical, you know, she, she raises it, she raises it, and then it leaves her, you know. Uh, it's, it's, it's just heartbreaking.


Uh, it has a happy ending. I'm not gonna, I'm not going to spoil anything. But it also comes through the fact that, you know, the little bao falls in love with a white girl, you know.


SM:

[Laughter]


LDP:

Just, you know, it's, it's, it's just so funny. Cause I'm, you know, I'm, I'm, I'm half, you know. I’m half Filipino, half, you know, Caucasian. My, my children got all my white genes. I have four daughters, they're all a little pale, you know, English looking princesses.


SM:

[Laughter]


LDP:

Um, and, and, you know, it's, it's that thing, man, it's, it's, it's, that's, you know, uh, the diversity and, and, and, and this sort of hydrogeneration that we've created. And how do you hold on to your traditions? How do you hold on to, you know, your roots, uh, in a country that's moving forward and, and redefining itself. And what's so bizarre to me is that we are, we are seeing either the embrace of that or the rejection of that in America now.


SM:

Absolutely.


LDP:

You know? And, and, and it's, it's, it brought this short little film, brought so many big questions to mind. Uh, uh, and so many of them, uh, sort of, um, inspire an emotional reaction, you know. It's, it's, uh, it's really, really a lovely piece. Not to mention the fact that that we, we, we are now seeing more content, uh, that, that, uh, is cultural, that, that comes from the Asian community, that comes from the Latino community, that comes from the African-American community. We are seeing, uh, an industry that is, that is transitioning to be more inclusive. And I thought that this one was a beautiful example of that.


SM:

Well, I think for the fact, it's such a short space of time, the fact that the amount that it achieves and it really did to me, and you mentioned it perfectly. You know, one of the things I think about a lot is being, you know, half British, an American citizen, but half Bengali. And I go, well, what's my cultural identity. And a lot of people, you know, who are. . . have come from, as you do, from mixed backgrounds, really struggled because people say to me, and I get this all the time. People say to me, well, what you can't cook Indian food, cause you're not Indian enough. And I get this from people on Twitter all the time, but, but then people in England go, well, you're not English. Cause look at you, you're kind of swarthy and slightly olive oil skinned and all of the rest of it.


And so that cultural identity and to have something in that shorter piece of time that addresses that in a very light way, relatively, I mean, although it has some [inaudible] to them, I thought it was really remarkable. And when I saw this on there – “Ratatouille” would have been a great choice – but actually this very short space of time to achieve something that is actually quite brilliant. I thought it was really important. I love, love, love watching that film. And it's, it's one of those, you know, that you only get in, could go and you get an animation, like watching “Up,” like watching, you know, the things that I. . . I like watching “Ratatouille.” That, that's the conversations that you can almost get away with by having not non people say them to each other.


LDP:

We have literally told all our 13 year old girl, who's got an amazing palate, by the way. She, she doesn't like grilled cheese, but she likes raw squid.


[Laughter]


SM:

Fantastic.


LDP:

Her Asian roots, you know. But I mean, there's so many times [inaudible] don't just [inaudible] it down, you know. Taste it, you know, appreciate the flavors, appreciate the combination of things, you know.


SM:

[Cross talk]


I think we're seeing a lot of that now. And I, I am just to throw this in, before we go talk about how people can catch up with you on social media and everything. I honestly believe with the immigration we have in the United States right now, we're reaching a golden age of our food. I say this all the time. I think we're getting second and third generation people from different communities all over the world, you know, we're in the United States, and they are bringing their culinary, uh, traditions into the American vernacular.


So, you know, I could go out to any supermarket now and buy Gochujang. I could go out to, you know, any supermarket now, and probably they'll have frozen bao in the, in the freezer section.


LDP:

Lemongrass.


SM:

Lemongrass. And, and in not particularly high-end supermarkets.


LDP:

Yeah.


SM:

And I really believe we were at a really great opportunity here because we're being informed, if we allow ourselves to be informed, and that's a different question. . .


LDP:

Yes.


SM:

. . . by so many incredible people from all over the world. And I meet them as I'm traveling.


LDP:

I've had a project in mind for a long time. You and I need to talk. You and I need to talk.


SM:

I, well, I, I. . . Anytime. I, you know, it's always a joy to talk to you.


And then that that's a good segue, he says, that if other people want to talk to you, and one of the things I will notice. . . Oh, oh for some reason I noticed today, I don't follow you on Instagram. I have to go and just sort that out.


LDP:

I’m not on Instagram.


SM:

Oh, well that's why I'm not following you on Instagram.


LDP:

No, the only social media I am on is Twitter and it's moody Phillips “Loud Phillips.” I got the blue check mark, uh, and you know, no, no publicist, no assistant. None of that. It is 100% of me. Those are my cats. Those are my recipes. Those are my pictures. Uh, you know, either I take or, my wife takes, uh, Yvonne, and, uh, you know, that's, it is, it's a direct conduit to me.


SM:

And it is one of the reasons why I really love you on Twitter so much is because I'm the same. You know, but my, my people is sometimes, uh, my lovely wife who will put something on if I'm running around, but it's me and I answer. And I, if people ask me questions and I make a real serious point of going, no, it's me. If you ask me a question about how to prepare a dish or how to do something, it's me, um, for good, bad or worse, it's me. And you do that. And to have access to someone like you, and you're very good at responding. So say that again, the, the link for you?


LDP:

It’s uh, Lou D Phillips. “Loud Phillips.” Capital L O U, capital D, P, a capital P H I L L I P S.


SM:

Yes. So make sure if you're listening, folks, go and connect with Lou on there and go and enjoy it. Go and talk about food. Cause I know he genuinely, like, you get, you get very excited. You can see you. I could imagine you kind of tapping on the keyboard in excitement when you're. . .


LDP:

[Cross talk]


I do. The one question that, that I sort of, I love and I hate is, you know, if, if, if, if I'll post what I've done for dinner. They’ll ask for the recipe, it's like, I can't do it in 240 characters, man.


SM:

Yeah.


LDP:

Sorry. And I, and I, and I hate, I have to admit, I hate these 3, 4, 5, 6 thread things. You know.


SM:

I can't do that. Um, what I do is I always go, well, I'm going to go and put it on my website and then send people. I've just, I just did one yesterday on Tik Tok of all things. I can't imagine me on TikTok, but there you go. Um, uh, but I go and, um, I did a Baingan Bharta, the roast eggplant from India, and we just . . .  we got so many likes and people keep going where's the recipe. So I'm giving Sybil the recipe and we'll put it on my website.


LDP:

Nice.


SM:

Um, but what we always like to do, and again, I know you've got to go off and be, you know, it, however many amazing TV series and films you've got planned, um, we always like to end with just some silly questions.


So do you, do you have time to answer some. . .


LDP:

Yes, I do. Of course, I do.


SM:

. . . or silly questions for us that we like to do with anyone who comes on.


So let's, let's think about this. If you, if you were a meal, if you had to describe yourself as a meal, how would you describe yourself?


LDP:

Uh, I'm going to go with my favorite meal, uh, you know, of all time, which is Steak and Lobster. Or, Steak and Crab Legs. You know, a little surf and turf, you know, as Bobby DeNiro said in, uh, “Midnight Run.”


SM:

[Laughter]


Um, oh, I love that. I love that film.


LDP:

[Cross talk]


[Doing an impression]


. . . you know, but a class of people live here. . .


SM:

[Laughter]


LDP:

[Doing an impression]


. . . in business.


[Laughter]


Uh, but you know, I mean, it's just, you know, being born in the Philippines, getting raised in Texas, you know, it's got that, that beef and seafood, uh, it's, it's comfort food, which I like to think of myself as a little bit. But there's no certain elevations to it. I think, you know, it's, it's, it's got a certain amount of class to it, you know? Uh, and, and, and so, uh, um, yeah, I, it's, it's very satisfying and, and yet, you know, not something that you're going to get every day.


SM:

What kind of steak would it be? That'll be my only question.


LDP:

Oh, wow. That's just, you know, I used to, I used to say that the, that the, uh, the ribeye, because it's so, so marbled, uh, as my favorite cut, but I've been trying to, uh, uh, be a little bit, you know, a little, a little less, uh, um, uh, uh, luxurious, I guess. Uh, I, I've grown very fond of, uh, the New York strip. . .


SM:

Okay.


LDP:

. . . you know, a little smaller, a little leaner, uh, strangely enough, I'm not a huge fan of filet.


SM:

No, I get into a lot of arguments because I always do, when I do my talks, I always go that you should throw away filet mignon, pork tenderloin and chicken breasts, because you might as well, you might as well eat, like, Chaplin’s shoe from “The Gold Rush” because you'll have as much flavor.


So that's a good, good answer. I like, well, ribeye to me is the perfect. . . .


Okay. My next. . .


If you could go to any period in history, any period, and it could be anything or a meal from any period in history that you wanted to sit at and experience it for the first time, or just see what it was really like, what would it be?


LDP:

Uh, I went immediately to the first Thanksgiving. You know? Uh, interestingly enough, interestingly enough, uh, the first time that I judged on, uh, “Iron Chef” was a Thanksgiving challenge. Uh, and it was amazing because it was, it was Bobby Flay and Michael Symon versus Cat Cora and Morimoto.


SM:

Wow.


LDP:

And, and Morimoto, even though they lost by just a little bit, um, uh, brought a different perspective to it, which I thought was really interesting. I mean, one of the things that he did was it, was it, he, he, he basically grilled, uh, the, um, the giblets on skewers, uh, which was just delicious and straight ahead and wonderful. Yeah, just unbelievable. Um, and, but it makes me think, you know, and in lobster, you know, lobster was part of the first, you know, Thanksgiving do that. Not many people sort of, you know, uh, acknowledge that.


Uh, and so not only am I, am I interested in it from a historical standpoint and how they prepared all of these foods, you know, and, and, and, uh, the presentation of them all, but once again, uh, the, the fusion of two cultures and how they came together. . .


SM:

Very much.


LDP:

. . ., around the table and, and what, what were the dynamics really? You know what I mean? Uh, was it this sort of all-encompassing, we welcome you to our table because you've basically saved our lives, you know? And, and, and what was, you know, what was really, you know, the, the, the interpersonal, you know, relationships, you know, they were, they were going on around that table and did they put their differences aside, you know, uh, at that moment? Was there a Christian prayer and it was there, you know, was there a blessing from one of the, the, the, you know, the, the shaman, you know? I mean all of that kind of comes into mind when, when I think of the first Thanksgiving and not just, you know, a turkey and stuffing and how we come to eat it today?


SM:

Well, it has a lot of history and I actually did a show for the Food Network or the Cooking Channel, I can't remember which now, called, “Back in Time for Thanksgiving,” where we went back in time. We actually filmed it at what was then Plymouth Plantation, uh, now, no, I think called Plymouth, Massachusetts, but, um, so where they have the living museum. So, I worked with the Wampanoag, uh, culinary people I worked with. No, it was really fantastic. Odd things that come out of it, like they did play a game of football at the very first Thanksgiving, which was a version of this very rough game. They had me play it. And I was beaten from pillar to post by very large gentlemen from the Wampanoag community. Wonderful, wonderful. I had such a good time.


Uh, but they did have the, obviously there was no turkey there at this point, but they did have a lot of, uh, game because one of the things that was really important for American identity from the very beginning was obviously you couldn't hunt in England because all the land was owned by the rich people. If you hunted, you were poached and you were executed.


Um, so, but in America, from the very beginning, they were allowed to hunt. You know, during the 2008 crash, I had people in Kansas City would go out hunting because it's the only way they could put food on the table. So it's still even more. And so it was really fascinating and the way they talk about it was there was this very brief period where there was a kind of, uh, symbiotic kind of thing between the Wampanoag communities and then it changed very quickly. Uh, but there was a brief period. So maybe it would have been the kind of, uh, of that brief window, I think.


Okay. That's a great, I think that's a great answer. And, uh, particularly when you give it that kind of that rationale and just trying to see how this country was formed.


Um, and the last one, and I always ask this. And we’ve had people saying, um, all kinds of different answers. If you had to choose anything from history, food, history, or history, generally that you would say was the greatest invention for food, what would it be?


LDP:

Yeah, I, I, I feel like such a [BLEEP]. . . for saying this. . .


SM:

[Laughter]


LDP:

. . . cause it's just like, I, I, I don't have yours or Alton Brown’s sort of food knowledge or, or even, you know, culinary knowledge, uh, cause I've never been trained. And it's like, wow, what made a difference? I mean, well, you know, you got fire. You got, you know, all of these sort of things. I've got the little things that I use. But when I sit there and think what actually changed the ability to, to, uh, affect techniques? You know, I thought a blender or a food, you know, a food processor because it, it's so, uh, um, uh, minimize the amount of time that you had to do something. When you, if you're going to make a soup out of it and you had to cook it down, you know, you had to just, uh, spend so much time, uh, either roasting it or, you know, cooking it or, you know, if, your knife skills, if you, if you want to, you know, do something, you know, you could spend a long time mincing up a lot of stuff, you know, if that's, if that's the effect that you want. And I just thought the ability to, to, uh, mechanize that, you know, uh, uh, would, would, uh, help a lot of recipes and a lot of different techniques.


SM:

I like that because the reason I thought it was such a good idea is I, one of the very first blenders, and I can't remember, or grinders or all of the things that were going on, was described in the 1920s or even early. . . as your servant at home. So what it actually talked about was how richer households or even middle-class households were changing. People didn't have, you know, a live-in cook. They didn't have, they were having to prepare, they were having. . . . So this was taking the place of a group, a community. And we're talking now about, are we going to lose a lot of our work to technology? We've had this all throughout history, of course. And so even things like that were seen as threatening by many people who were in that community of kind of social, you know, social, like the Downton Abbey crowd or whatever it was.


LDP:

Yeah.


SM:

They were seen as threatening. And the cooks go, well, we can't use this. This is not the way to do it. Even now. You still get levels where people go, oh, well, chimichurri is much better if it's made in a mortar and pestle, if it's. . . than in a, in a blender. So I just thought that was a really good, um, I think it was a really good answer because what it does is prompt lots of discussion. It actually made me think of going back and doing an episode. I did an episode on silverware recently, which was fascinating, but maybe going back and looking at grinders, looking at some of these things that we took for granted, we take for granted now, but actually how much they changed the way we think about food and, and, you know, you do a blender cookbook, a grinder cookbook, or whatever cookbook now. And I thought that was a really great answer.


OUTRO MUSIC


SM:

First of all, thank you so much for that. Your time is very precious. So I appreciate that you took an hour to spend some time and I hope you had fun, anyway.


LDP:

I had a blast. I had a, I can't wait to do it over a meal again, my friend.


SIMON:

Do make sure to check out the website associated with this podcast at www dot Eat My Globe dot com where we will be posting the transcripts from each episode, along with all the references and resources we used putting the episodes together, in case you want to delve deeper into each subject. There is also a contact button, so please do let us know if there are any subjects that you would like us to cover.


And, if you like what you hear, please don’t forget to subscribe, recommend us to your family and friends and give us a good rating on your favorite podcast provider. That really makes a difference.


Thank you and goodbye from me, Simon Majumdar, and we’ll speak to you soon on the next episode of EAT MY GLOBE, a podcast about things you didn’t know you didn’t know about food.



CREDITS


The EAT MY GLOBE Podcast is a production of “It’s Not Much But It’s Ours” and “Producer Girl Productions”


[Pah pah pah pah pah Sound]


and is created with the kind cooperation of the UCLA Department of History. We would especially like to thank Professor Carla Pestana, the Department Chair of the Department of History and Doctor Tawny Paul, Public History Initiative Director, for their notes on this episode. Also, a huge thank you to Sybil Villanueva for her help with the research and the preparations of the transcripts for this episode, which can be found on the website.

Published Date: November 8, 2021

For the annotated transcript with references and resources, please click HERE.