The Splendid Table

Sunday 2 p.m. - 3 p.m.

In 1994, acclaimed food writer and cooking teacher Lynne Rossetto Kasper was receiving accolades for her debut book, The Splendid Table, which at that time was the only book to have won both the James Beard and Julia Child Cookbook of the Year awards. Among the many people enchanted by the book was producer and foodie Sally Swift, who thought the time could be right for a radio program on food.

Appropriately, Lynne and Sally met over lunch to discuss the radio idea. They weren't interested in creating a show based on "talking about recipes"; instead, they wanted to explore everything they loved about food: the culture, the science, the history, the back stories and the deeper meanings that come together every time people sit down to enjoy a meal. And so it was The Splendid Table — "the radio program for people who love to eat" — was born.

The Splendid Table began as a live, Saturday-morning call-in show on Minnesota Public Radio. As the program's popularity continued to stretch across the nation, The Splendid Table eventually became the pre-recorded program that now airs on more than 400 public radio stations in the United States, plus SIRIUS satellite radio and World Radio Switzerland.

The Splendid Table has been at the forefront of food issues and policies since its inception. Long before eating local became a catchphrase and farmers' markets became ubiquitous, The Splendid Table was talking about the changes needed in the food system and what was happening on the grassroots level. In fact, when The Splendid Table first went on the air, Lynne had to make sure to define such terms as "organic" and "sustainable" for listeners. Today those terms have become part of the everyday lexicon, and people's hunger for wholesome food and the rituals surrounding it has only increased.

Audiences have continued to grow, and broadcasting peers have taken note as well: The Splendid Table has won two James Beard Foundation Awards (1998, 2008) for Best National Radio Show on Food, a Gracie Allen Award in 2000 for Best Syndicated Talk Show, and five Clarion Awards (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2014) from Women in Communication. Lynne is also included in the James Beard Foundation's Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America.

Food has a way of creating bonds among people, and that is certainly the case for the people behind The Splendid Table. The program's production team of Lynne, Sally, Jen Russell and Jennifer Luebke have been together since the program's earliest days. Longtime contributors to the program include Jane and Michael Stern, who find the special, unique and idiosyncratic diners and eateries in cities and towns across America; witty wine expert Joshua Wesson; and the unabashedly opinionated cheesemonger Steve Jenkins. (All contributors.)

Special guests are also essential to The Splendid Table's ongoing culinary conversation. The late Julia Child was a steadfast advocate of The Splendid Table and appeared on the program numerous times. Among the parade of outstanding guests are food activist Michael Pollan, author of such books as The Omnivore's Dilemma and Food Rules; film director and writer Nora Ephron; famed Spanish chef José Andrés; the late director Ismail Merchant; food writer Anthony Bourdain; chef Mario Batali; Franz Ferdinand lead singer Alex Kapranos, who is also a food critic; and classical violinist extraordinaire Joshua Bell, who enjoyed an in-home cooking lesson from Lynne.

Always making food come alive in multiple ways, The Splendid Table has recorded programs in Portland, Ore.; in Hawaii; in Spain; and in Mexico City. To commemorate the program's tenth anniversary, a series of shows were produced on site in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, Lynne's spiritual homeland and the inspiration for her first book.

Lynne's second book, The Italian Country Table, was published in 1999. In 2008, Lynne and Sally collaborated on their first book, How to Eat Supper; both were award nominees. In 2011, they will release a follow-up volume, How to Eat Weekends.

From its first mealtime brainstorm to the award-winning weekly program it is today, The Splendid Table continues its celebration of food and the roles it plays in our lives.

Ways to Connect

Nigella Lawson is one of the food world's biggest international superstars. She’s written 11 cookbooks, hosted TV shows for two decades, and is surprisingly terrible with a knife. While our host Francis Lam has been reading her work for his whole career, he just recently had the chance to meet her in-person when she came to the U.S. to tour for her new book, At My Table.

Summertime menu from Nigella Lawson

May 17, 2018

America's Test Kitchen on the sweet science of syrup

May 17, 2018

Syrups can be used in recipes to sweeten and add body to everything from main dishes to desserts. But all syrups are not meant to be used interchangeably. Their different molecular structures mean some are better for certain uses.  To learn more about the science behind syrups Managing Producer Sally Swift talked with Dan Souza, Editor in Chief of Cook's Illustrated. One syrup they talk about is the British classic, Lyle's Golden Syrup.

Mother's Day brunch recipes you can prepare the night before

May 11, 2018

Brunch is a Mother's Day tradition in many of our homes, and most of us would like for it to be as low-stress as possible. After all, who wants to spend the whole morning scrambling around the kitchen when we should be hanging out with mom. With this in mind, The Splendid Table gathered a few of our favorite Mother's Day brunch recipes that can be prepared the night before and then cooked the morning of. Make the prep work a group activity on Saturday - minus mom, of course, because it's her weekend! Then more time can be spent on Sunday relaxing and enjoying your meal as a family.

Chef Eli Kulp reimagines his culinary life

May 4, 2018

Chef Eli Kulp was new to Philadelphia when his career really took off. Within two years, he was named a Best New Chef by Food & Wine magazine, Bon Appétit called his High Street on Market the second hottest restaurant in the country, he and was ready to open a new place, two hours away in New York. But commuting home one night, the Amtrak train he was on took a sharp turn at 100 miles an hour. After that accident, Eli travels in a wheelchair and works to reinvent himself as a chef who no longer cooks in the kitchen.

At one time in her life, Ange Branca was – and could’ve remained – a powerful and successful international business consultant. But the food and memories of her motherland Malaysia pulled her in a completely different direction, and she worked to become a chef and presenter of true, authentic Malaysian food. Branca recently joined Francis Lam live on stage at our Splendid Table Live event at WHYY in Philadelphia, where their interview began with a quick bite to eat from the kitchen of Branca’s Philadelphia restaurant Saté Kampar.

People who live in Philadelphia have known for a long time how amazing their city is when it comes to food. It’s only lately though that people outside of Philly have started to see it as a home of great chef talent. One of those amazing talents is Mike Solomonov, the Israeli-American chef-owner of Zahav, Federal Donuts, Rooster Soup Company, Goldies, Dizengoff, and Abe Fisher. Solomonov is also four-time James Beard Award winner, including Outstanding Chef in 2017 and Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic in 2011.

Philadelphia is a city that loves its sandwiches. While the Philly Cheesesteak may get all the glory and attention from tourists, locals know it’s not the official sandwich of Philadelphia. That honor goes to the Philadelphia Roast Pork Sandwich, a fresh-baked Italian roll overflowing with savory slices or chunks of pork and topped with all sorts of ingredients that differ from spot to spot. Bryan Roof is executive food editor for Cook's Country magazine and on-screen test cook for Cook's Country from America’s Test Kitchen.

You may think of Dubai as the most wildly opulent place in the world, a city in the desert with both indoor tropical rainforests and ski slopes. But there’s a fascinating and important other side to it - Old Dubai, where migrants and refugees from all over the Middle East and beyond have come for safety or opportunity. Arva Ahmed was raised there by parents who came from India, and is passionate about leading food tours in her hometown as a way to tell stories while making you salivate.

When food lovers travel it's often to find and enjoy a very specific food, dine at a well-known restaurant, shop at a popular market, or discover the origin point for a certain cuisine. But have you ever wondered about the lasting effect that our food-centric travels have on the people and economy of the places we visit? Dr. Lucy Long not only thinks about, she researches the results as part of her work with Bowling Green State University and the Center for Food and Culture (CFC).

Recently, we had a guest named Jorge Gaviria, who is a corn tortilla evangelist. Francis Lam talked with him about corn tortillas, and it got us more excited about corn tortillas than we'd ever felt before. Since then, we realized that flour tortillas have lost a lot of love. So, we wanted to give them equal time in the Great Tortilla Debate.

America's Test Kitchen discovers Wisconsin spicy cheese bread

Apr 19, 2018

Wisconsin is a state that prides itself on cheese, cheese production, and cheese loving. So, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that a fan favorite snack at a famous famers market in Madison, Wisconsin is bread baked with chunks of cheese inside. Managing Producer Sally Swift talks with Tucker Shaw, from America’s Test Kitchen, about the spicy, cheesy treat and how to make it at home. You can bake the Cook’s Country recipe for Spicy Cheese Bread.

Enter to win The One-Bottle Cocktail by Maggie Hoffman

Apr 9, 2018

April 2018 Giveaway

Every month, The Splendid Table helps listeners equip their kitchens, stock their pantries, and fill their bookshelves.

This month, one (1) winner will receive one (1) copy of The One-Bottle Cocktail by Maggie Hoffman. The book has a retail value of $22.00.

Enter before April 30, 2018, at 11:59 p.m. Central Daylight Time, by submitting the form below.

Hurricane Maria raked nearly all of Puerto Rico's agriculture off the island when the storm pummeled the country in September 2017. Farmland was destroyed, home gardens were devastated, trees lost all of their leaves - even their bark. The people there are now working to rebuild not only their cities, but their food supply. As field producer and contributor Daniella Cheslow reports, some agronomists hope a donation of half a million dollars in seeds will cultivate local gardening and farming. Listen on audio player above.

PHOTO GALLERY

The unfortunate reality about seeds is that most are not bred and selected for flavor. Rather, they are chosen specifically for the yield, uniformity and shelf stability of their fruit or vegetable. Chef Dan Barber wants to change that. The chef-owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns wants to help create seeds that bring forth new foods with unexpected and unique flavors. Which is why he - along with seedsman Matthew Goldfarb and seed breeder Michael Mazourek - cofounded of a new seed company called Row 7.

Nothing says "fresh" like the flavor of spring vegetables that we're starting to see pop up now in markets and stores: asparagus, radishes, avocado, artichokes and spring greens. For many people, the go-to cooking method for these veggies is to steam or sauté them. But how about braising or roasting them? Ashley Moore is Senior Editor for Cook’s Country magazine and test cook for the Cook's Country television show. She says the idea of cooking the vegetables either low and slow or by blasting them with high heat may seem shocking, but the result is magnificent.

Above, left to right: Passport to Chile, Sidecar Called Desire.
Cocktails from The One-Bottle Cocktail | Photos: Kelly Puleio

Oyster stout unites classic pair in emerging craft beer style

Mar 23, 2018

It’s no secret that beer and seafood make excellent companions. One classic pairing is oysters and dark beer such as stout or porter. It’s been that way since 1800s London when oysters were pulled right out of the River Thames, shucked, then slurped down with a majestic glass of dark beer. Just imagine a lovely platter of raw oysters on ice with lemon wedges sitting next to a tall pint glass of dark, rich stout. The bivalves’ briny and mineral-y flavors complementing the roasted, chocolate and coffee characteristics of the beer. 

Shucking oysters with Thomas "Uptown T" Stewart

Mar 16, 2018

When it comes to shucking oysters, no one does it with more style and swagger than Thomas "Uptown T" Stewart. The long-time shucker is popular with New Orleans locals and visitors alike after his many years working at Pascal's Manale, a New Orleans mainstay famous for its raw oyster bar. Learn how to shuck like a seasoned pro with Uptown T in this video produced by GoNOLA.com. Then get some oysters and let the good times roll!

Chef Brandon Jew takes handmade oyster sauce very seriously

Mar 14, 2018

No shortcuts: That's Chef Brandon Jew's philosophy when it comes to creating a sweet, savory, and wonderfully balanced oyster sauce. The owner and executive chef of San Francisco's Mister Jiu's shared his lengthy labor-of-love process with Francis Lam.

Francis Lam: I love oyster sauce, and you love oyster sauce. Anyone who’s ever had beef and broccoli loves oyster sauce – whether they know it or not.

Brandon Jew: It’s true.

An oyster primer from America's Test Kitchen

Mar 14, 2018

Oysters are both intriguing and intimidating to many people; they just aren't sure quite how to approach them. But, learning how to buy and prepare them can lead to very delicious results. Dan Souza is editor-in-chief of Cook's Illustrated for America's Test Kitchen. Managing Producer Sally Swift talked with him and got his expert advice for selecting, opening, cooking and eating oysters.

Oysters are often seen as a luxury food now, but throughout much of early American history they were so abundant that people from all classes regularly ate them. In coastal cities, you could have them on the street or in dingy bars for practically nothing. In late 1800s New York, a man named Thomas Downing built an empire out of an oyster bar. But here's the thing: he was a black man doing this during the era of slavery.

Enter to win American Seafood book by Barton Seaver

Mar 6, 2018

March 2018 Giveaway

Every month, The Splendid Table helps listeners equip their kitchens, stock their pantries, and fill their bookshelves.

This month, one (1) winner will receive one (1) copy of American Seafood by Barton Seaver. The book has a retail value of $50.00.

Enter before March 31, 2018, at 11:59 p.m. Central Daylight Time, by submitting the form below.

Forager Pascal Baudar wildcrafts plants, herbs and fungi from the wild, then uses them as ingredients to create food and beverages that he says express the true flavor of the environment. He is the author of two great books on the topic, The New Wildcrafted Cuisine and The Wildcrafting Brewer.

The path to become a Master Sommelier is not for the weak of will or unprepared of palate. The certification exam literally goes on for days and includes portions on theory, practical knowledge and tasting. Those taking the exam must be able to taste wine at random and be able to name the grape, the place it's from, and the year it was made.

Barton Seaver is an award-winning chef whose work now focuses on sustainability in the fish and seafood industries. He is the author of more than a half-dozen books including the essential American Seafood, a deep dive into the past, present and future of America's emotional and economic relationship with seafood.

Antibiotics and the future of Big Chicken

Mar 2, 2018

Maryn McKenna is a journalist who specializes in superbugs – bacteria that have evolved to survive antibiotics. Her book, Big Chicken, focuses on research involving the use of antibiotics in modern agriculture and how they changed the way the world eats. McKenna says the chicken industry is largely to blame for our enormous overuse of and exposure to antibiotics.

Chef James Syhabout: living between culinary worlds

Feb 23, 2018

Chef James Syhabout is a first-generation Asian-American whose family came to the Bay Area from a Lao refugee camp in Thailand in the early 1980s. He grew up working in his mother’s Thai restaurant before going on to a successful career as a chef specializing in fine dining. However, when his mother gave up her restaurant to return to her homeland, James came face-to-face with deep personal regret of not having learned more about the food of his people.

People involved in the 1960s and 1970s counterculture movement stood up to protest what they considered the moving forces behind the industralization of corporate food manufacturing. Their food-centric forms of civil disobedience resulted in the popularization of many foods we still eat today: granola, tofu, soymilk, and maybe even the toast you had this morning. Their food movement is the topic of the book Hippie Food by Jonathan Kauffman.

Understanding why we eat what we eat

Feb 23, 2018

How we eat says a lot about us. How we say we eat also says a lot about us. Rachel Herz is a psychologist and neuroscientist who teaches at Brown University and Boston College. She has written a book called Why You eat What You Eat: The Science Behind Our Relationship with Food, a fascinating read about the psychology of our food choices. And a lot of what she's found is probably not what most people would expect.

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