Podcast Recommendations- Foodie podcasts

It all started in mid-2018 when I was performing my quarterly browse of iTunes’ list of trending podcasts – a Foodie podcast jumped out at me (largely due to the name, but also due to the fact that there aren’t many Foodie podcasts out there)!

What the F is for Dinner? – 9podcasts

That first podcast was ‘What the F is for Dinner?’ hosted by Jane de Graaff. The show’s concept is smart and to-the-point, each week Jane interviews a well known Chef and spends a brief moment chatting before she pulls out a recipe, reads it out and her guest advises in how they would approach the cooking of that dish to make it easier for the ‘everyday man/woman’.

The podcast is punchy (around 10 minutes per ep), it’s fun and lively, and in the end you leave with some helpful tips and a recipe which you can really try that night (I tried one of the Mac and Cheese recipes to great success)!

If you’d like to give ‘What the F is for Dinner?’ a go, check-out:

https://honey.nine.com.au/podcasts/what-the-f-is-for-dinner

Jane started the show on 8 November 2017, and the most recent episode dropped on 3 December 2018; so there are plenty of past episodes for you to binge listen to, and more new content on its way!

And once I had latched onto this one Foodie podcast, I just rode the wave for all it was worth, following the rabbit hole of ‘You might also like’ podcast suggestions and that was how I found my next Foodie podcast:

The Pass Australia’s Newest Podcast- The Pass

I guess it takes some onions to name a podcast ‘Australia’s newest podcast’ as your podcast name can quickly become inaccurate (as What the F is for Dinner is in fact Australia’s latest food podcast), and it takes even more nerve to state in your podcast blurb that you’re “One of Australia’s favourite food podcasts” when you’re just starting out and unknown. But hats off to Magdalena Roze who hosts each episode, as The Pass’ podcast concept is probably the most solid from the 4 Foodie podcasts which I follow and the format which I enjoy the most.

The format of the show is as follows: Mags meets up with a renowned Chef at either their home or their business and spends some time chatting about them, their concept of food, and their business, before reaching the midway point of the show when her guest reveals where he/she will be taking her for lunch (usually at one of the guests’ favourite local haunts). And with microphones continuously recording, they hop into cars to get there,  make their orders at the restaurant/café, and then enjoy their meals; all the while their candid conversations continue. The result is that you the listener obtains a great insight into the Chef, like eavesdropping on a neighbouring table’s private conversation. Another aspect of the show which I particularly like, is learning of unknown Sydney restaurants (to me at least) from the Chefs themselves, and listening to what they end up ordering (I now have a little notebook full of restaurants and dishes Chefs have ordered across the episodes, which I’d like to try one day).

If you’d like to join me and eavesdrop on Mags and her guests, click on:

https://www.thepass.com.au/podcasts/

Mags started the Pass on 20 February 2017, so there are 2 seasons worth of shows to binge listen to. But unfortunately the most recent episode is from 30 May 2018; the show is released in seasons, so I’m hoping that they’ll release a 3rd season soon.  

So still hot on the rabbit’s heels, I discovered the next podcast I’m going to tell you all about. This Foodie pod is the show which I’ve listened to the most (6 years’ worth of episodes I’ve binged on thus far). But this is by-and-large due to the fact that it’s the longest running Australian Foodie podcast with the most extensive back-issue! **Note: “What the F” and The Pass are more professional productions with a team of people working on them, with theme music, and after-production edits; but the next two shows are independent productions and a little bit more ‘amateurish’.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry- Lee Tran Lam

An embarrassing confession I have to make first (and I’m only sharing this because it was such a light bulb moment!), but it was only this morning that I realised the name of the show was “Unbearable Lightness” not “Unbearable Likeness”, and that actually makes a whole lot more sense now! I was going to be a hopeless ‘Fan-boy’ if I ever met Lee Tran, and ask her what was the deep philosophical meaning behind her show’s name. I’m not joking, more than a couple of times over the past months I’ve stopped to think “The unbearable likeness of being hungry……” What is she comparing the feeling of hunger to?  But it’s Lightness! I get you now!  Lightness, as in not being heavy from being full? I’m confused…. Have I grasped the meaning???? *Shrug*.

But regardless of the title, The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry is my go to podcast, for the simple fact that Lee Tran has this amazing access to a host of amazing guests! And those whom she chats with aren’t limited to only famous Sydney Chefs, but Sommeliers, Baristas, front-of-house staff etc. etc. So it’s a really wide cross section of the hospitality industry and each person seems to be very familiar and comfortable with her so they end up opening up and being very candid in their responses. At first I used to get annoyed with Lee Tran for always asking the same handful of questions (she never diverts from those questions) but over time you’re reliant on the predictability which takes the guest through a logical sequence (Was food a big deal when they were growing up?; What were their highlights and lowlights of their career?; their favourite places to eat and drink in Sydney?; and what places they’re looking forward to try?). And with these questions, the guest inevitably pours out their life story to Lee Tran and you’re the beneficiary of Lee Tran’s connection with her guests! But don’t get me wrong, the show isn’t Q and then A, but some of the most interesting parts is the result of Lee Tran’s extensive research into her guest’s life; the information which she is able to rattle off-the-top-of-her-head is incredible and I think all of her guests respect her for that and feed off her interest in them, so it’s not an interview as-such but a real conversation between 2 people. If you want to meet all the interesting people Lee Tran has chatted with over the years, please click on:

https://theunbearablelightnessofbeinghungry.com/category/podcast/

Now my biggest fear is that my binge listening of back-issues will eventually catch up to the present day episodes, and then I’ll just have to wait for future episode drops. Boo! Lee Tran’s first episode went to air on 1 August 2012, and unfortunately the frequency of her uploads has slowed in recent years, but on the bright side her most recent ep was made available on 24 December 2018 so she’s still going strong! And I still have all of 2016 and 2017’s episodes to listen to. *Rubs hands in glee*. And I’d just like to add, by far Lee Tran is on the top of my list of Podcasters whom I’d like to meet! And with the weirdness of the Internet, I’m silently hoping that she might see this post one day, my homage to her work! Haaha.  

Which now leads me to the last of the 4 Foodie podcasts which I’m subscribed to and which I’m going to recommend to you. I have to admit the first time I heard this podcast, I stopped after 20 minutes into it and then deleted it from my library. The reason was that I found it too crude with all the swearing, and it was too “Yo Bro!”….”That’s sick!”…..”DUDE!”…. It was just too much like high school all over again. And it didn’t help that I started listening from the latest episode, so I was confused with all the different voices (they usually have 6 people) and there wasn’t much context to what they were chatting about.

But a few months later, when I was working my way through Lee Tran’s podcasts too quickly and I was starting to panic about running out of un-listened episodes, so I had a need to find something else to intersperse in between ‘The unbearable lightness’ so I went on my interminable search for new Foodie podcasts again. But there weren’t anything that I hadn’t tried before (crap I sound like an addict), and I came crawling back to The Mitchen. But this time I learnt my lesson, I commenced at episode 1 to obtain all the context to their banter.

The Mitchen- Andrew Levins and Mitch Orr

The Mitchen is hosted by Andrew Levins (Writer and DJ and former owner of The Dip at Good God) and Mitch Orr (Head Chef of ACME), and each week around Mitch’s dining table which they dub the ‘Mitchen’, around wine and tea Andrew and Mitch have their mates over (all Chefs and guys in the hospitality industry) and they just chat about the goings on with the Sydney food scene. It is incredibly insightful to hear about a side of the hospitality industry which we as customers are unaware of, and for me it’s given me a greater appreciation of how difficult this industry is, especially in Sydney. Tell you the truth, I’ve been more comfortable with paying ‘Sydney prices’ for food now that I know how expensive it is to operate a small business in Sydney, and the only way your favourite restaurant can stay afloat, is to support them by just eating and drinking what you want and not being too concerned with the cost (a hard concept to grasp being Asian).

Yes, admittedly once you hear the Mitchen you’re presented with another side to well-known Chefs who you thought you knew (as often when we see these Chefs in the media, they’re on their best/public behaviour); but when they’re at the Mitchen they’re relaxed and let loose. That results in hearing your favourite Chefs swear perhaps a bit more than you’d like; and perhaps see a side of them that you didn’t care to see. However I guess the food industry is like that, it’s high pressure and guys will be guys, and the gals need to be like one of the boyz to fit in. So if you ever choose to listen to the Mitchen, I must warn you of the explicit language; and advise you to start with episode 1, as it makes more sense when you start the journey from the beginning. And shout-out to Andrew Levins, he is a great host and quite funny (although the other guys don’t like to admit it), all I have to say is LOL Levins! So if you’re prepared for the Mitchen and you promise that you won’t be turned off your favourite Chefs after you witness them being themselves around their mates, then please click on:

https://themitchen.libsyn.com/

The Mitchen first started on 15 August 2015, and the most recent episode was uploaded on 18 June 2018; unfortunately it does look like the boys are no longer producing content, but on the bright side there are 74 past eps which you can binge listen to. If you’re interested to know, I’m currently up to episode 21.

So that’s it! My 4 Foodie podcasts which I’m subscribed to and recommending to you. I personally think they’re all required listening if you’re a Sydney-based Foodie! **End note: One depressing thing about listening to old episodes about Sydney’s food scene, is the fact that there are many Chefs and restaurants which are featured in these podcasts who have since closed their businesses. *Sad look*. The only way we can support our vibrant Sydney dining scene, is to just go out and enjoy Food and Drink! Hit us up below, let me know what you think if you gave any of the Foodie podcasts some of your ear-time!

Podcast Recommendations- 30 for 30 Podcasts- Bikram

While we were counting down to the end of 2018 and ushering in a new year, I started to reflect back on the year that was and what were my defining moments in 2018. And oddly enough, a podcast was at the centre of my most notable transformation!

How is this so? Here is the podcast which started it all: ESPN’s 30 for 30 podcast, hosted by Jody Avirgan.

30 For 30 are extremely well crafted and professionally produced sport documentaries that explore the broadest range of stories, from America’s favourite past-time to the shady world of professional gambling. I consider myself a sport fan, and there have been obscure topics that I’ve never heard of and it’s been these stories which have been the most enjoyable for me, due to how enlightened it has left me after hearing it being told in the 30 for 30 way. I think those who aren’t into sports will find 30 for 30 a worthwhile listen, because it’ll leave you more informed afterwards; and regardless of the topic being explored the episodes have been entertaining due to 30 for 30’s ability to tell a compelling story, and because each podcast production are near masterpieces (tight narrations, edge of your seat re-telling, and fantastic accompanying music).   

In season 3, all 5 episodes were devoted to an in-depth exploration into Bikram yoga (Hot yoga), and it’s now shamed founder Bikram Choudhury. Julia Lowrie Henderson the reporter who worked on the story for more than a year, was once an Instructor in Bikhram yoga, and thus able to report from an insider’s point of view the rise and fall of Bikram, the yoga revolution that he built, and give a voice to his victims who had admired and trusted him, but as he built up their bodies he ruined their lives.   

It’s compelling listening, although difficult at times, as there are serious issues being explored and to take in, say during a morning commute to work. But if you’ve heard bits and pieces of this in the news/social media, and you’re interested to find-out the truth behind all the accusations/ rumours, check it out!

For episode summaries, transcripts, and links to all 5 episodes please visit:

However this still doesn’t explain why this podcast and specifically these 5 episodes resulted in the most defining change for me in 2018?

I’m sure Julia’s last intension when crafting her piece, was to inspire someone to take up Bikram yoga at this point in time (as in fact trainees were leaving in the droves). However for me it did just that.

It was after episode 1 hearing how gruelling and demanding the 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises were (and being a bit of a masochist) I started to wonder how difficult can this training actually be? And there were testimonials of the health benefits from the practice, I wondered if it could change my life as well?

So motivated by these 2 drivers I started to read up on Bikhram yoga and found this great web-site which teaches in great detail the 26 postures and 2 breathing techniques, and  lists out all the health benefits associated to each (the list of health benefits reads like it’s going to cure cancer and make you into Superman/woman, but I think tone it down 75% and there are definitely some health benefits there). If you’re interested to check it out, here is the link:

http://www.bikramyogaposesguide.com/

I approached the learning process by taking things slowly at first, by only learning 2 new techniques per day and slowly building up to the full 90 minute workout (which took around 2 weeks to build up to it). And Maggie Grove also helped me out a lot.

You might be wondering, “Who’s Maggie? A friend of yours?” No no….. I wish though….. Maggie lives  on the other side of the world in LA! Although for around a 3 month period, Maggie was at our place each day leading my workouts. Oh yes, I should mention that Maggie was leading my workouts from our TV. *Smile*.  

If after listening to the pod, exploring the postures/benefits, and you’re at the stage to take action (and you don’t mind the concept of learning/practicing from the comfort of your own home); just click on the Youtube link below. And in moments Maggie’s sultry voice will be greeting you…. Before she breaks you. Haaha.

Or alternatively, just ask your Google assistant to “Play Bikram yoga 90 minute work-out on Youtube., and in seconds you’re off and running (or standing still and doing the first breathing exercise). All you need in terms of space and equipment is a towel (if you have carpeted floors) and enough floor space where you’re able to lie down and do a snow angel without cracking your limbs on furniture. **You’ll probably need a proper padded yoga mat or a rug if you have tile or wooden floorboards, as you’ll be spending at least 45 minutes lying on the floor.

It’s not totally essential to have Maggie/Youtube casted or HDMI to your TV (as over time you just need the audio instructions from Maggie to lead your training); however it’ll help to be able to see what’s going on when you’re first learning. Besides, it’s quite inspiring to see the chick in the front row do the postures like she was made from elastic (as that could be you one day!). While if you’re not as fit/flexible as her, at 60mins into the work-out seeing the buff dude sweat like a pig….. That is also very comforting to know that someone else is suffering as badly as you are. Haaha.

And after 3 months, you’ll become so familiar with the 26/2, that you can try doing your 90 minute workout without Maggie (only if you’re not going to develop separation anxiety from Ms Grove). The benefits of being able to lead your own practice, is that there is flexibility in being able to do your yoga away from your TV. When I achieved this level of familiarity I was able to take my yoga onto the road (being on holidays didn’t stop me practicing my yoga); and without needing to listen to Maggie’s prompts, I was able to use that time to listen to music or podcasts so incorporating 2 passions into a very enjoyable 90 minute ‘Me time’ per day.

So 9 months on since I first started on this journey, where am I at? Have I seen any health benefits? And how difficult is Bikhram yoga?

To answer the last question first, yeah, it was definitely difficult at first. As your body is going to ache all over, as you’re using muscles and placing your body into postures that you’ve never asked your body to do before. But once you get over the initial pain of it (perhaps 4 weeks), it only becomes easier and easier.

 And what benefits have I experienced?

Here is a list:

Flexibility– my flexibility has definitely improved, when I first started I was unable to touch my toes. These days I can reach several inches past them.

Core strength– I’m able to sit a lot straighter now (I used to be a horrible sloucher), and I used to get back pain from sitting too much at work. But these days I no longer have this problem as the first 10 minutes focuses on stretching and strengthening your back so all tension from a day is released after the first handful of postures.

Lean muscle– from practicing the 26 postures which stimulate every muscle group in your body, I definitely have more lean muscle in my arms, legs, back, butt and stomach now. Pretty much everywhere, even in my neck. Haaha.

Energy– I always feel more energised after a workout, although most days my mind asks if we really need to do this. But I always feel much better because of it.

Balance– this has definitely improved as my balance was really crap to start with.

Calmness– if I feel anxious these days, I take a few deep breaths (which you perform throughout your training) and I always feel more relaxed afterwards.

Waistline– and I’ve lost a pant size or two, however I changed my diet at the same time as taking up yoga, so it can’t be completely contributed to yoga alone.

So after 8 months of practicing Bikhram yoga, I really do feel much better because of it! If you’re able to decouple the man from the yoga, there are definite benefits of continuing on with the practice, or taking it up for the first time! If you are spurred to action from this post, please hit me up in 8-9 months time, as I’d love to hear how Hot yoga has change your health and life  as well!

Podcast Recommendation- Wait, Wait, Don’t Kill Me

Over-time (or perhaps just after reading this post) you’ll learn that I’m a huge podcast fan. Like huge! On average I probably spend 2 hours a day listening to podcasts; I have pages and pages of shows which I’ve subscribed to; I have a routine where I listen to specific shows on specific days about specific things;  and by far the app which I use the most on my phone is the podcast app!

And what podcast fans love to do is…….. Um, tell other podcast fans what their listening to. So I guess with this blog, here is my chance to recommend podcasts I’ve really enjoyed and would recommend to friends (or strangers).

If I recommend Serial season 1, well I’d just be ‘Johnny come lately’, I’ll be rocking up to the party just as the band packs up to go home, in other words ‘that ain’t news, as everyone already knows about Serial’. But if you were drawn into the Adnan Syed case, and would like to get into more detail where Serial didn’t get a chance to explore, there’s also ‘Undisclosed’, a podcast which takes a more granular and legal perspective on the case. So if you’d like to get into the nitty gritty minutia and Law is your thang, I think you’ll like this podcast. Granted, it’s a bit dated now, and the recording quality is a bit amateurish but if you’re all about the content it should be okay (oh yeah, the content is bias to Adnan, as it’s hosted by the family friend who originally brought Adnan’s case to Sarah’s attention).

But what I really wanted to recommend was this! ‘Wait, Wait, Don’t Kill Me!’ It’s not a podcast as such, but a 5 episode stand-alone ‘season’ from the Secrets, Crimes and Audio Tapes podcast show from Wondery.

Here my interests intersect (and perhaps where you and I have similar interests as well). If you’ve read my previous posts, you know that I’m a closet fan of musical drama, and like everyone who followed Serial, we were fans because the story telling and the story itself was so compelling. So the creatives behind Wait, Wait, Don’t Kill Me (Dave Holstein and Alan Schmuckler) married these two themes, and created the first Musical podcast about a murder.

Check it out! Essentially they fictionalise the goings on in Sarah Koenig’s life as Serial goes to air and attempts to tie-up all the loose ends which Serial weren’t able to resolve. It’s an engaging method they’ve used to convey their story through dialogue and song, and it utilises a liberal dose of conjecture, untruths, and borderline character defamation! Haaha. If you can take it all with a grain of salt, you enjoy Musical drama, and a sleek podcast production, I think you’ll like this.

If I’ve piqued your curiosity, give episode 1 a go! See if you like it or not? This isn’t the official link but the page contains links to the first Ep for iPhone and Android devices:

http://podbay.fm/show/1148704289/e/1479197100

**Note: Wait, Wait Don’t Kill Me contains adult themes, so listener beware. Not to mention the songs are super catchy, so apologies in advance if they get stuck in your head.

The Habitat- Gimlet Media

When I was thinking of what podcast I could share with you, so many shows came to mind! Do I tell you about the shows which I’ve been subscribed to and have been following religiously weekly (some almost daily) for years and years? But oftentimes those podcasts are a little niche so I’d love them, but you wouldn’t, because you don’t have the same interest in….. say, American football.

But one show I think captures everyone’s interest, no matter age, creed, gender or eco-status, is the thought of leaving our blue planet and exploring space! Realistically, I’m not sure if we will ever or will actually need to populate Mars, as I’m sure it was hard enough to develop and migrate to the Wild West (both California and Perth. Haaha), but starting afresh on Mars?????? That would start a whole next level debate on who has the better bagel (dwarfing all current East coast West coast rivalries).

But the podcast ‘Habitat’ from Gimlet Media follows 6 volunteers over a 12 month period, to capture how it is to live on Mars.

What? We have people on Mars!? Did I miss anything?…….

Oops, I was meant to clarify at the beginning…. NASA built a dome on the side of a volcano in Hawaii and had left the 6 in isolation there for 12 months. And through voice recordings, the crew and Gimlet Media’s Lynn Levy were able to interact and capture the goings on of 6 people forced to live in each other’s pockets, eat dehydrated food for a year, and forced to play dress-ups each time they went outside (listen to it, it’ll make more sense).

So if you like reality TV shows like ‘Big Brother’, you’re one who looks to the skies wondering what’s out there, and you want a quick 6 episode (30 min each) wam-bam-thankyou-mam binge-worthy podcast…then ‘The Habitat’ will be ideal for you! It’s like watching TV with your ears and exercising loads of your childhood imagination!

https://www.gimletmedia.com/the-habitat