The Sporkful ★★★★
“The Sporkful isn’t for foodies, it’s for eaters.” The Sporkful is a really fun show about food – how we cook it, eat it, avoid it, send it back, celebrate it, share it, and sell it. Obviously I love food – the site is called Audible Feast after all, for all the delicious podcasts I’m consuming which simultaneously allows me to search for mouthwatering photos of delectable ingredients – and The Sporkful delivers so much joy along with discussion of food.
Dan Pashman is the host of The Sporkful, and he is one of my favorite podcast hosts of all time. Pashman brings the joy to this podcast with his hearty laugh and sense of humor. He is so passionate about food and it’s exciting to listen to someone share their passion. Audio is a perfect format for food storytelling and Pashman is masterful at not sounding pretentious, too put-on, scripted or foodie-ish. He definitely loves food, but is so inquisitive about the intersectionality of food and culture.
There are a few types of episodes, most of which are around 25 minutes: there are interviews with chefs, restaurateurs, and food critics and writers; there are debates between family members or friends who need an “expert” to weigh in on their food dispute, and there are episodes centered on a topic. Pashman’s interview style can be described as eager: his appetite for a joyful story comes through clearly. Even in more serious episodes, like the most recent update from “Raina” who wrote in about her eating disorder, Pashman highlights the happy appropriately. My favorite episodes are the debates between family members. Think about that fundamental food disagreement you have with your spouse, dad, sister – don’t you both feel so passionate that your position is the “right” one? Are green beans a finger food? Is spaghetti better with chunky sauce or smooth sauce? Can you use a spoon to eat peas? Essential quarrels such as these are certainly best mediated with Pashman’s laugh as background music. It will definitely make you smile.
In another episode style, Pashman takes on a topic and interviews multiple people. This particular show is loaded with funny anecdotes about food on the campaign trail, including some hilarity about Mitt Romney at the Iowa State Fair, but my favorite part is Patricia Schroeder, a former Colorado Congresswoman, describing several incidents with food. Here’s one:
The Sporkful also toyed with a new format in 2016 – a short series of related episodes. I wasn’t sure at first whether the mini-seasons would hold up (Who is This Restaurant For? and Other People’s Food) but after listening to both of them, I think they’re a nice addition to the lineup. I like that The Sporkful has tackled the concept of race and food, it’s a conversation that is needed. I liked Other People’s Food more than Who isThis Restaurant For, so I’d recommend that short series of four episodes if you want to get a taste of this format.
I’ve read that Pashman believes there is much more room in the food podcast space, and I love his invitation for competition. But I think The Sporkful fills the food storytelling niche quite well (I’d also recommend Fugitive Waves and Gravy) and while I skip some episodes because I’m not sure if the title is compelling enough for me to listen, I do enjoy most of the episodes I hear. Check it out if you are interested in a mostly light, joyful food podcast from a guy with the best laugh in podcasting!
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Audible Feast Ratings
Educational Value (3 / 5)
Pop Culture Value (5 / 5)
Host Listen-ability (5 / 5)
Dan Pashman is truly one of my favorite podcast hosts of all time. I’ve heard him laugh so much, but also be sensitive, humble, and admitting he has more to learn about food and culture.
Flow & Production Value (4 / 5)
A few too many ads for me, but that’s the typical WNYC format, so it’s not really The Sporkful’s fault. I just wish episodes were a tad bit longer (more content).
Humor (4 / 5)
Investigation (3 / 5)
Storytelling (4 / 5)
Makes Me a Better Person (4 / 5)
Overall Audible Feast Rating: (4 / 5)
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The Splendid Table, Gastropod, Gravy, Burnt Toast, Good Food, Spilled Milk, Fugitive Waves