Katy and Ricardo Osuna, the James Beard Award–winning co-producers of the podcast Copper & Heat. (Courtesy of @copperandheat)

Four Bay Area podcasts digging deep into food and restaurant culture

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Food is at the center of our world, especially in San Francisco where we have more three-star Michelin starred restaurants than even New York. But while it's easy to be distracted by what's on your plate, there's a whole lot more to the foods we eat and the chefs we celebrate than just good taste.

Nourish your culinary interests with these four Bay Area–based food podcasts covering everything from local restaurant recommendations to the politics, economics, and history of food culture.


Bite: A Mind-Watering Food Podcast from 'Mother Jones'

Why listen?

To dig into the science and politics of food,

What's it all about?

In typical Mother Jones form, this podcast from the iconic investigative news organization does a deep dive into the stories behind the foods we eat. Hosts Tom Philpott, Kiera Butler, and Maddie Oatman speak to farmers, scientists, chefs, and writers about local and national culinary topics from veganism and the impacts of climate change on the food system to food stamps and the legacy of slavery in American cooking. Many of their episodes feature Bay Area personalities like Alice Waters, W. Kamau Bell, and Pixar director Domee Shi.

Standout episodes:

Passover in Prison

Cooking Chicken with Beto O'Rourke

Copper & Heat: An Oakland-Based Podcast From a Former Chef and Her Producer Husband

Why listen?

To get a behind-the-scenes look at the unspoken rules and traditions of Bay Area restaurants and chefs.

What's it all about?

After just one season on air, Copper & Heat is already making waves in the American food landscape: Last month, it won a prestigious James Beard Media Award for best podcast of 2019. Co-created by husband-and-wife team Ricardo and Katy Osuna, and hosted by Katy, Copper & Heat's breakout season, "Be a Girl," investigates why women only represent 19 percent of restaurant chefs and only 7 percent of head chefs.

The serialized narrative-style series weaves together Katy's experiences working in Bay Area Michelin-starred restaurants with discussions with cooks and chefs like Dominique Crenn, Reem Assil, and Tonya Holland.

"The restaurant industry is at a point where a lot of groundwork has been laid, but in order for change to happen, there need to be more conversations about gender, race, and privilege in the kitchen," she says.

Standout episodes:

Episode 7: The View from the Kitchen with Kim Severson, Chef Reem Assil, Chef Dominique Crenn & Chef Tanya Holland

Episode 5: Chef

Check Please! Bay Area: KQED's TV show turned podcast brings food criticism to the people.

Why listen?

For delicious, often under-the-radar restaurant recommendations throughout the Bay Area.

What's it all about?

KQED's classic foodie show has brought the restaurant recommendations of real people, not food critics, to a wider audience for 13 years running. More recently, the show has been turned into a podcast, hosted, as always, by Leslie Sbrocco, a James Beard and Emmy award winner. In each episode, listen as three local guests from all walks of life (and sometimes even kids) describe their favorite joints from the South Bay to Wine Country.

Standout episodes:

Madcap, El Toreador, Juanita & Maude

Kids Review: Minato Japanese Restaurant, Tapsilog Bistro, Giorgio's Pizza

The Kitchen Sisters Present: Hidden Kitchens, Recipes + More

Why listen?

For the hidden histories behind food, drink, and other unexpected subjects.

What's it all about?

Despite the name of the PRX podcast, not everything the Kitchen Sisters do is food related. These two Bay Area hosts, Davia Nelson and Nikki Salva, have created fascinating episodes on everything from the Dust Bowl to the environment. But while their interests range far and wide, food remains close to their hearts, with stories about food traditions and hidden kitchens (also the name of their series that pops up on NPR's Morning Edition and in print form in the book Hidden Kitchens: Stories, Recipes, and More). Rich in interviews and soundscapes, the Kitchen Sisters delve into all of it in a narrative style that even Ira Glass believes has resulted in "some of the best radio stories ever broadcast."

Standout episodes:

The Making of a Karaoke Ice Cream Truck and More Stories

The Egg Wars

PS: Did you 7x7 has a podcast? Tune in to Bay Area People Will Talk for chats with guests including chef Samin Nosrat, hip hop artist Rafael Casal, photographer Tabitha Soren, and more.

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