It comes as little surprise that “Somebody Feed Phil” Netflix’s fifth most-watched unscripted judging by host Phil Rosenthal’s enthusiasm.
“We finished filming in mid- January, just under the wire before the world was shut down,” Rosenthal told ET Canada. “I’m so lucky because now we get to travel virtually because we can’t go in real life but I want to tell everybody that this is going to pass, this terrible time.”
He suggests that everyone “plan a vacation” because “life is good when we have stuff to look forward to.”
Season includes visits to Rio de Janerio, Singapore and then three U.S. destinations — San Francisco, the Mississippi Delta and Hawaii — a choice which Rosenthal says was “very, very on purpose.”
“Not everyone can afford to travel overseas. So I wanted to focus more on [the U.S.]. And the second part of that is, there are great places here,” added Rosenthal, who, prior to launching his food-based travel series, was best known as the creator of beloved sitcom “Everybody Loves Raymond”.
“You can travel in your town and try an ethnic restaurant and you are transported,” he said, getting excited about the possibilities. “You are literally taking in that culture.”
“Somebody Feed Phil” has had one Canadian stop, Montreal, which was visited during season three, but Vancouver is another stop north of the border he hopes to go to.
“I could get there very easily, why haven’t I been there yet?” he questioned. “But I am dying to come. I know how spectacular it is.”
Other bucket list spots include India, parts of Australia, other Canadian destinations, Shanghai, Prague, Austria, Switzerland… well, you get the point.
“I need Netflix to up the order,” he joked.
And being stuck at home during the pandemic hasn’t stopped Rosenthal from enjoying the food from his favourite restaurants.
“No,” he proudly replied when asked if he has been cooking. “I am supporting my local restaurants and I advise everyone to do that. I order out almost every single meal. Not just because I am lazy, because the restaurant industry is vital to our lives.”
Rosenthal then explained that the restaurant industry is the second-largest employer outside the United States government — and that’s excluding all the supporting industries that restaurants utilize, from suppliers to farmers.
Fans of the show will also recall Rosenthal’s parents, who appeared at the end of each episode by video calling their son so he could show them what he has been eating. However, he is insistent that his love of food didn’t come from them.
“My mother is one of the greatest human beings to ever live I think, but cooking? Not her strong suit,” he said. “I never had garlic until I was 17.”
Sadly, Rosenthal’s mom died in 2019. His dad now appears at the end of each episode, along with his Rosenthal’s wife, “Everybody Loves Raymond” actress Monica Horan.
Not only does Rosenthal get to taste the food in all the different cities he visits, he also gets to take in cultural aspects.
“In Marrakesh, I was sitting on a rooftop with a couple of friends and suddenly the call to prayer started from the mosque. Everything was silent and you just hear that beautiful voice. And then it happened over there,” he continued, while recalling all the mosques that started to play the call to prayer. “It was like a chorus.”
“It was this incredible, spiritual experience, even if you aren’t religious in any way,” Rosenthal said. “Wouldn’t it be nice if the world stopped for a second to listen to a song every day?”
And if having a show isn’t enough, Rosenthal launched “Somebody Feed The People“, a joint venture with Pizza to the Polls and Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen, aimed at feeding American voters waiting in line at the polling stations.
“We are in trouble people,” Rosenthal said of the presidential election. “I don’t know how to fight it other than make the long lines they stand in a little bit nicer.”
He added: “I can’t say it will be an incentive to waiting in line, but it will make waiting in line a little better.
Concluded Rosenthal: “I always say, instead of a wall, how about a table? Because when we sit and eat together, there are no problems. We can solve our problems. Food is the great connector and laughter is the cement.”
Season four of “Somebody Feed Phil” is on Netflix now.