Rejoice! Phil Rosenthal is Back with Somebody Feed Phil!

Phil Rosenthal in episode 4 (Hawaii) of Somebody Feed Phil S4. Cr. NETFLIX © 2020
Phil Rosenthal in episode 4 (Hawaii) of Somebody Feed Phil S4. Cr. NETFLIX © 2020 /

Phil Rosenthal’s Somebody Feed Phil returns to Netflix with Season 4!

If 2020 is a vast desert, an arid expanse of hopelessness, then “Somebody Feed Phil” is the most spectacular oasis rising on the horizon. And Phil Rosenthal is its gracious host, a sight for sore eyes, parched mouths, and empty stomachs.

There are television shows that warrant being recommended and others that don’t, but rare is the series that compels one to wax poetic. Somebody Feed Phil is that rarity under normal circumstances, but even more so during a time when escapism is vitally important to maintaining one’s sanity.

On each episode of Somebody Feed Phil, Phil Rosenthal casts a spell on the viewer, in the very best way possible. He entertains, makes us laugh, and makes us think. He’ll don his professorial hat in educating us about new destinations and what makes them special. He evokes emotion. And most importantly, he spreads cheer, both on location and through our screens. Phil Rosenthal is the gift that keeps on giving…and eating…and eating some more.

In Season 4 of Somebody Feed Phil, filmed just before the world as we know it was turned upside down, Phil takes us to Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, Singapore, The Mississippi Delta, and Hawaii. And therein lies the magic, because while we lack the passport stamps or frequent flier miles, we feel like we’ve been his virtual travel companion, without the calories of course.


To say that Phil was a little schvitzy while in Rio would be an understatement. It definitely looked a bit toasty, yet that never deterred him. I’m still smiling at the sight of a black socks-clad Phil walking out onto his Pope-like hotel balcony during Carnival and spontaneously breaking into dance. (Yes, I just used Yiddish and made a papal reference in the same recap!) Only Phil Rosenthal could inspire such descriptive versatility.

Spectacular scenery aside, it was fascinating to see how Cachaca is made. The national liquor of Brazil, Cachaca is a distilled rum made from fermented sugarcane. It’s created by feeding the sugarcane into a machine that looks like part wood-chipper and part juicer. Nobody had to cajole Phil into sampling the spirit both straight and in the form of a drink called a Caipirinha, which is the country’s national cocktail.

In between drinking and eating, Phil inevitably tackles physical challenges. While he’s not always gung-ho to do so, he’s definitely a trooper and the result is always amusing. In Rio, that adventure came in the form of paddleboarding, which Phil undertook with the balance of a young child on the precipice of taking their first step. Upon achieving the expected outcome of capsizing, Phil could only do what is often his default, blame his producer/brother, “Stupid Richard!”


While I’ve been to San Francisco many times, it wasn’t until now, thanks to Phil, that I knew anything about the city’s history. His fascination when sharing such details is palpable and only adds to the experience for viewers. If I can learn something and not worry about a test afterward, I’m all-in, and Phil never disappoints on that front.

As Phil and chef Kenji Lopez-Alt approached the acclaimed Tartine Bakery, I expected the usual culinary tour complemented by Phil’s spot-on narrative about sights, sounds, and smell, but au contraire. Phil describing Tartine’s chocolate croissant sounded like someone who’d just found the perfect diamond. Come to think of it, we shouldn’t be surprised, as Phil treats most food discoveries like treasured gems.

Phil’s visit to San Francisco also included a stop at the legendary Swan Oyster Depot, a 100-year-old family-run institution made famous by its hours-fresh seafood inside and a block-long line outside. He also brings us along as he eats his way through the city with the legendary Alice Waters of Chez Panisse and Michelin-starred chef Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn, before heading less than two hours away to what he calls “America’s Tuscany,” Napa Valley. It was in Napa that Phil was given the VIP treatment by renowned chef and entrepreneur Thomas Keller as they toured the latter’s flagship restaurant The French Laundry, along with his Bouchon and Ad Hoc.


In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll readily admit to knowing next-to-nothing about Singapore. And when watching a show without knowing what to expect, the experience can only go one of two ways—good or change the channel. In the case of Phil’s visit to Singapore, I was mesmerized, as the veritable travelogue that is Somebody Feed Phil did a brilliant job shining the spotlight on what is a fascinating country. From the architecture to the natural surroundings to the pristine condition of the country, Phil’s visit was thoroughly engrossing.

And can we talk about Singapore’s airport for a second?! Yes, I’m about to gush about an airport, one that Phil said he’d happily endure even a seven-hour delay owing to its absolute magnificence. Called “The Jewel,” this shining example of innovative architecture masquerading as an airport has a five-story atrium and the world’s tallest indoor waterfall situated smack-dab in the middle. It’s truly spectacular.

Returning to the country’s food scene, which in Singapore reflects its migrant-influenced offerings, Hawker markets are prevalent and serve up a wide array of ethnic food, including Chicken Rice, the national dish of Singapore. Owing to that prevalence of Hawker markets, Singaporeans as a rule don’t cook, opting instead to take advantage of the variety of choices available at what could best be described as dirt-cheap prices. The result is that Hawker markets serve over a million meals a day.


When I read that one of Season 4’s destinations would be The Mississippi Delta, I wasn’t quite sure what that would encompass. In my mind, it would likely feature southern food somewhere in the deep south. In reality, Phil’s deep dive into The Mississippi Delta began in Memphis and traveled down Route 61, or what’s called the Blues Highway, into Mississippi.

What The Mississippi Delta episode lacks in the visual splendor of Singapore it more than makes up for with some of the most authentic, endearing people I’ve seen on Somebody Feed Phil.

Of the many memorable people featured in this episode, there were none more enjoyable than the woman Phil aptly described as “one of God’s greatest creations,” Aunt Flo, at Doe’s Eat Place in Greenville, Mississippi. She and Phil enjoyed three R’s immediately—repartee, rapport, and real, leaving us to simply bask in all three. If Aunt Flo and Phil took a show on the road, it would play to sold-out houses everywhere. I couldn’t get enough of them together and that’s despite the distraction of seeing what’s widely thought to be one of the country’s great steaks. In the case of Aunt Flo and Phil, make me laugh and smile, then feed me.

Somebody Feed Phil on Netflix
Somebody Feed Phil, photo provided by Netflix /


When I think of Hawaii, foodie paradise isn’t exactly the description that comes to mind. For that reason, I expected this episode to cast a wider net, no pun intended, and feature the splendor of the islands, their unique culture, and, to be honest, pineapple. So much for tropical stereotypes, as pineapples were not featured, and frankly, that’s just fine because Phil otherwise delivered as usual.

From a food standpoint, I enjoyed watching a local couple known for their amazing poke try to make a convert of Phil, who made no secret of his lack of affinity for the dish. And wouldn’t you know it, the couple, owners of Ahi Assassins located on the 2nd floor of a nondescript strip center, actually succeeded. “If you’ve only had poke back on the mainland, this will blow your mind,” conceded Phil after the challenge.

As Phil espouses regularly, as he did to me when I chatted with him just prior to Season 3, making new friends is “the best part” of doing Somebody Feed Phil. The joy that he derives from and brings to each episode is in full bloom when Phil meets Uncle Clay of Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha, a popular Shave Ice storefront in Honolulu. The walking personification of Ohana—a Hawaiian word meaning “family”—Uncle Clay welcomed Phil and his crew with the kind of genuine warmth one could only hope to get upon meeting someone new. His energy, charm, and affection were the highlight of the episode.


Anyone who watched Somebody Feed Phil knows that creating the show is a labor of pure love for Phil Rosenthal. He exudes passion for his destinations, his new friends, and his role as our virtual tour guide. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say that he’s likely as eager to resume production on the series as we are. So here’s hoping that Netflix greenlights him remaining a happy hungry man, traveling all across sea and the land, just trying to understand the art of pasta, pork, chicken, and lamb. We need him to drive to us, fly to us, sing for us, and with his Rio balcony fresh-in-mind, dance for us. He’ll definitely laugh with us and cry for us, yet he asks very little in return. So to the culinary world out there, can somebody, somebody feed Phil? Somebody feed him now!

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Which Season 4 destination are you most excited about? What destination would you most like Phil to visit in future seasons of Somebody Feed Phil?