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‘Somebody Feed Phil’: Rosenthal steps out of his comfort zone

Phil Rosenthal brings goofy energy and curiosity to the latest season of his travel and food series, which kicks off in Mumbai

Phil Rosenthal, as seen in season 7 of the Netflix show 'Somebody Feed Phil'.

By Nitin Sreedhar

LAST PUBLISHED 06.03.2024  |  01:15 PM IST

Phil Rosenthal finally listened. When we reviewed Season 6 of the popular Netflix food and travel docuseries Somebody Feed Phil in 2022, we’d mentioned how Rosenthal would not be disappointed if he ever visited India as part of the show.

The latest installment of Somebody Feed Phil, now in its seventh season, begins in Mumbai. The famous Bombay sandwich finds its way to his plate, and so does mango lassi. Rosenthal makes an effort to try everything—be it bheja fry on Mohammed Ali Road, Indian-Chinese at the famous seafood joint Trishna or comfort vegetarian food at Soam. A visit to The Bombay Canteen includes a nice tribute to its founder chef and co-founder Floyd Cardoz, who died in 2020.

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A beautiful segment on the Mumbai dabbawallas even sees him pick up and deliver meals across the city. It’s a reminder, once again, of the 64-year-old’s ability to gel with people no matter where he goes.

Beyond that, the episode plays it safe—there’s yoga, an evening spent playing cricket and then bonding over paanipuri. Does the Mumbai episode do justice to what the Indian food scene is all about? Perhaps not. The Indian food landscape stretches far beyond Mumbai, and one hopes the show makes space for other Indian cities in upcoming seasons.

There’s a healthy dose of Asia and the east this time out. Other locations this season include Kyoto, Dubai, Washington DC, Iceland, Scotland, Orlando and Taipei.

Like the distinct flavour notes he encounters while tasting whiskey at the Talisker distillery on the Isle of Skye during the Scotland episode, you can’t miss the many embedded themes of Season 7—inclusivity, a healthy dialogue on immigrants who leave their homes to settle elsewhere, bringing their food and culture to a new place with them. You get to meet, for instance, the chef who introduced fresh pasta to Iceland—traditionally known for dishes like fermented shark or a sheep’s head.

The other message that some viewers might notice is one of co-existence. This is most apparent when Rosenthal shares a meal with a Democrat and a Republican in the Washington DC episode, reiterating that a lot can be achieved if people sit down together—especially over food—and initiate a dialogue.

Personally too, Rosenthal takes a few chances this season. He acknowledges this in his own words during the Mumbai episode: “Just a baby step out of my comfort zone, and this beautiful world was waiting."

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Rosenthal is still as goofy as ever , dropping the world’s most expensive cheeseburger (apparently known as ‘the billionaire burger’) on the floor while sipping a cocktail at the At.mosphere restaurant, located on the 122nd floor of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and struggling with scuba diving in freezing waters in Silfra, Iceland. Wherever he goes, it’s a riot.

Perhaps that’s what makes the series stand out in a long list of food and travel shows. It makes me sit down and jot down places I want to visit—and eat at—when I visit a new country. More importantly, it makes me smile—and feel hungry.