Last night we went to see Phil Rosenthal at Buffalo State University. If you’re unfamiliar with Phil Rosenthal, you need to watch Somebody Feed Phil on Netflix, and you need to do so now. Right now. Go watch, I’ll wait for you.

[waiting music here]

OK, now that you’ve watched…well, if you went on without watching, Somebody Feed Phil is a travel and food show starring Phil Rosenthal, a comedy writer and television producer who is best known for creating the classic show Everybody Loves Raymond. In the show, Rosenthal travels to a city and, well, eats. He visits beautiful places, eats wonderful food, and meets wonderful people. Rosenthal is an evangelist for the idea of travel and food in terms of making connections between peoples of wildly divergent backgrounds. He is not unlike Anthony Bourdain in his approach to this sort of thing, though Rosenthal is more focused on humor and joy than Bourdain was in his explorations.

The night was a delight, with Rosenthal discussing the origins of Somebody Feed Phil and his life in television and in food in a guided conversation with a Buff State professor as emcee, before he spent the bulk of the evening taking questions from the audience. Most of the questions were good an insightful–especially three by children!–but a few were unfortunately undermined by the fact that several times someone saw their question answered before their turn, and despite their best efforts at rewording things, you could tell it was the same question.

(There were also a couple of strange dudes who used their time at the mic to execute a kind of weird performance art of their own, and Rosenthal was graceful in managing his clear desire to get these two guys away from the mic. That was embarrassing, honestly.)

Did I ask a question? I did not. I don’t know what I would have asked, in all honesty…though today, I think I know, so…maybe next time. Rosenthal deeply believes in travel and food as avenues to broadening horizons and cultivating empathy; what I’d ask is his thoughts on how we overcome the fact that as good as travel is for connecting peoples, it is still something that is reserved for people of certain levels of privilege. I do get frustrated with people around me, though: I know people who go to the exact same part of Florida each and every year, at the same part of the year, and I wonder, “Why not take a year or two off from Florida and go someplace new? Why keep going there and seeing the same shit, over and over again?” (The answer, in a lot of cases, backs into the “privilege” area because they’re going to Florida to visit retired family, which means they have lodging built in. But still…doesn’t the siren song of someplace other than Jacksonville or Orlando make itself heard once in a while?)

The Wife and I made a whole date of things, of course; we went to one of our favorite local eateries, Frank Gourmet Hot Dogs, a little miracle of a place that makes wonderful food that’s almost entirely gluten-free. We had High-Five Fries, which are French fries (and Frank has the best fries in WNY) piled with melted cheese, pickles, slaw, their special fry sauce, and Nashville chicken bites. The Wife really wanted this, so I let her eat most of it. Of course, I didn’t want to go hungry, so I got a hot dog: the Modern Chicago dog, which is one of my favorite things on any menu ever.

When we got to Frank, I briefly thought, “Hey, Phil Rosenthal needs to eat before his show tonight, wouldn’t it be cool if we run into him here!” After all, Frank Gourmet Hot Dogs is well-known in the area. Alas, Rosenthal ate at the West Side Bazaar last night. Maybe on his next visit to Buffalo, though!


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One Response to Phil!

  1. Roger says:

    Phil was in the Capital District in the past two weeks. I didn’t go; I have an overly packed schedule as it is, but even though I’ve NEVER seen the show, I might have gone anyway because I liked him when he was interviewed on CBS Sunday Morning.

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