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

Considering that Mexico is one of the spiritual homelands for high-quality chili peppers, it’s unfortunate to see that in Mexican restaurants in the U.S. chiles rellenos, the dish where the pepper is the star, is often underappreciated and poorly executed. Bricia Lopez wants to change that. She and her family own Guelaguetza in Los Angeles, which has been called the best Oaxacan restaurant in the country. Host Francis Lam says they make the greatest chiles rellenos he’s ever had.

Photo: Chili peppers growing on a farm in rural Thailand.

America’s Test Kitchen finds the good in all green peppers

Jul 12, 2018

Of all the produce found at the farmers market, possibly none has a more divisive "love it or hate it" reaction from cooks as green bell pepper. But why is that? And what other green peppers are fun to work into your ingredient list to create interesting new flavors? To answer these questions Managing Producer Sally Swift talked with Tucker Shaw, the Editor-in-Chief of Cook’s Country.

Our good friend and award-winning food writer/editor Doc Willoughby has a thing for great ingredients for grilling and indoor cooking. Over the years, he’s introduced us and his readers to countless amazing spice mixes. When we told him that we were doing a whole show dedicated to chilies and hot peppers, he was excited to tell us about his favorite magical French pepper powder, piment d’Esplette.

Playing with fire: new barbecue recipes from Michael Symon

Jul 2, 2018

Michael Symon is a renowned chef, especially notable in the world of grilling and smoked meats for his boldly flavored recipes. In his new book Michael Symon's Playing with Fire, Symon combines a lifetime of barbecue obsession with his experience running a barbecue kitchen to improve and inspire your home smoking.

You could call fish the underdog of the summer cookout. When you have people getting psyched about racks of ribs and charring porterhouses, grilled fish doesn’t always get the love it deserves. But when you hear Portuguese chef Nuno Mendes and host Francis Lam speak so passionately about grilling sardines in the style of Mendes's home country, you can't help but think of how wonderful plump fresh sardines must taste with a bit of char on them.

Chef Bill Kim made his name as a fine dining chef; he ran the kitchen at the legendary Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago, which had one of the first tasting menus in the United States. But since he left that world he’s dug into two things: the Asian flavors he grew up with and boiling his cooking down to simple sauces that pack tons of flavor. This led to his new book, Korean BBQ, which is filled with delicious recipes you can make at home with the help of a few innovative sauces.

Grill upgrade: better grilling with America’s Test Kitchen

Jun 29, 2018

When we have questions about tips and techniques for the home cook, we often turn to our friends at America’s Test Kitchen. Their crew has put in countless hours at the grill, so we asked Dan Souza, Editor-in-Chief of Cook’s Illustrated, for a guide to grilling. He talked with Managing Producer Sally Swift about different fire setups, proper use of grill vents, and why a small flare up can be a good thing.

Photo: Cristina Martinez and Francis Lam with the full spread
of barbacoa, salsa, and accompaniments at El Compadre.

The Andes hold the heart of Peruvian food

Jun 15, 2018

Photo: Fruit market in the streets of Cusco, a town in the Peruvian Andes.

Doc Willoughby on how to cook boniatos

Jun 14, 2018

Boniatos are what most of the world thinks of when it thinks of a sweet potato. While not quite as sweet as the yam type sweet potatoes we are used to in the United States, boniatos are nonetheless delicious and fun to cook for their own nutty flavors and texture. Francis Lam wanted to know more about this terrific tuber. Thankfully, his good friend Doc Willoughby is a huge fan of boniatos, so they two sat down to talk about it.

Anthony Bourdain remembered in his own words

Jun 8, 2018

The Splendid Table was saddened to learn this morning that Anthony Bourdain, a dear friend of the show and an inspiration to adventurous food lovers around the world, had passed away. It’s no secret that Tony was one of retired host Lynne Rossetto Kasper’s favorite guests; she welcomed a conversation with him any time schedules aligned. They chatted multiple times over the years, tracing Tony’s progression from bad boy chef to author to television star.

Enter to win Korean BBQ by Bill Kim

Jun 5, 2018

June 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 Korean BBQ by Bill Kim with Chandra Ram. The book has a retail value of $28.00. Enter before June 30, 2018, at 11:59 p.m. Central Daylight Time, by submitting the form below.

Cucumbers are a key flavor and ingredient for summertime cooking. While we generally think of them sliced or diced, the folks at America's Test Kitchen have a new strategy: smash them! Managing Producer Sally Swift talks with Elle Simone, food stylist and on-screen test cook for America's Test Kitchen, about this new -- dare we say fun -- method. Try your hand at smashing cukes with this America's Test Kitchen recipe for Smashed Cucumbers.

The Key 3: Vedge

Jun 1, 2018

Kate Jacoby and Rich Landau are the husband/wife team of chefs behind Vedge, a vegan restaurant in Philadelphia, where they have been offering an exciting dining experience inspired by seasonal vegetables since 2011. Francis Lam visited Jacoby and Landau in the kitchen of their restaurant to learn more about their cooking techniques and what three dishes they consider essential to the vegetarian or veggie-loving home cook.

Diana Henry is one of Britain's most admired cooks. She's written 10 books and her new one, How to Eat a Peach, is as much about planning a meal as it is about how to cook it. Our contributor Melissa Clark, of The New York Times, talked with her about how she takes her ideas for composing meals and applies them to vegetables without the big beef roast to go with them.

Photo: Choya Webb with his father, Choya Webb, Sr.

Summertime grilling guide from The Splendid Table

May 24, 2018

The summer grilling season is upon us. It's that wonderful time of year when our grills are filled with the sound of fires crackling and the aromas of cooked meat and vegetables. We've collected some of our favorite recipes from A Summertime Grilling Guide from The Splendid Table to inspire your backyard barbecues. They include meats, veggies, sauces, sides, beverages and desserts - everything you need for grilling fun in the summer sun.

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.

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