Will a mysterious scientific breakthrough called CRISPR make GMOs obsolete? Should we fear the “bananapocalypse”? And what’s the deal with “The Doomsday Vault”?
Listen to Episode 27 of “The Four Top” from Sept. 11, 2017 to find out.
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Savor the conversation. Every other Monday, a roundtable of culinary media insiders discuss today’s hot-button topics in food and beverage culture. Hosted by Katherine Cole.
Ep. 27: CRISPR Over GMOs? | Endangered Foods | Banking Seeds In Vaults
Ep. 26: When Critics Go Viral | Food Journalism 2.0 | Reservations On No Reservations
Ep. 25: Pregnancy Food Warnings | The State Of Fake Meat | The Dirt On Clean Eating
Episode 25 overturns mainstream thinking on nutrition. Should pregnant women really stay away from verboten foods? What’s up with the surprising new forms of faux meat? And what’s the dirty truth about “clean eating”? Our panelists pick these questions apart in Episode 25 of “The Four Top” from Aug. 14.
Ep. 24: Figurative Salads | Cookbooks As Literature | The Ideal Kitchen
In Episode 24, we overturn our assumptions about everyday things. What do you picture when you hear the word “salad”? What is a cookbook for? And what does the ideal kitchen look like? Hear our panelists’ surprising answers to these questions, and more in Episode 24 of The Four Top, online from July 31.
Ep. 23: Au Courant Canned Beverages | Nudist Natural Wine | Nutrition Info On Booze?
Have you noticed all the new craft beers and wines being sold in aluminum cans? We discuss this trend and taste a couple of examples. Next, the author of “Naked Wine” gives us the lowdown on the natural wine movement, and we explore its counterparts in beer and spirits. Then we talk nutrition information on booze bottles. Are our beverage-pundit panelists pro or con? Listen to Episode 23 of The Four Top online from July 17 to find out.
Ep. 22: Kombucha Madness | The Mystery Of Q | Get Your Politics Out Of My Food
How can we explain the kombucha craze, and why are some people going to prison for selling it? What’s the mysterious Taiwanese concept known simply as ‘Q’? And get your politics out of my food, will you?
Ep. 21: Cannabis In The Kitchen | Will Marijuana Wreck Restaurants | Truthiness In Labeling
With more and more states legalizing it, foodies are putting marijuana in their pots. But according to “the Martha Stewart of Marijuana,” cooking with cannabis is not as easy as it looks. Next, does the growth of the ganja industry threaten restaurants and bars? And finally, we discuss the proliferation of alternative facts in food industry.
Ep. 20: The Evolution Of Grocery Stores | Does Cured Meat Kill? | Serious TV Chef
From corner store to Costco, the grocery has changed over time. What’s the future of food retail, and how do today’s supermarkets deceive their customers? Next, the World Health Organization has warned us not to eat processed meat. Does that mean we have to give up artisanal salumi? And finally, a couple of new culinary shows are taking the genre in a more serious direction. Our panel ponders these questions in Episode 20 of The Four Top, online from June 5.
Ep. 19: 6 Seasons | Why Salmon Matters | James Beard On Film
How many seasons are there in a year? Six, according to cookbook author Martha Holmberg and chef/”vegetable whisperer” Joshua McFadden. Holmberg visits our studio to fill us in on the two you didn’t know about. Next, we talk with Diane Morgan, who has traveled the world studying salmon, and we swap a few summer grilling techniques, as well. Finally, we discuss the lasting legacy of culinary legend James Beard with film producer Kathleen Squires.
Ep. 18: Sanctuary Restaurants | Undocumented Labor In Food | Peruvian Cuisine
First, there were sanctuary cities. Now there are sanctuary restaurants. This fast-growing movement launched in January and is already making an impact. How can restaurants protect marginalized people? Our panelists discuss. Next, if you eat food in the United States, you are supporting an industry that relies heavily on undocumented immigrant labor. What are these workplaces and will the status quo ever change? And finally, the world’s top chefs increasingly hail from Peru. What are the secrets behind Peru’s culinary success?
Ep. 17: Fabulous Lady Food Bloggers | The Language Of Flavor | Online Wine Clubs
Are fabulous food bloggers good or bad for the food industry? How do professional critics describe taste? And finally, online wine clubs: Should you belong to one, or are they a waste of money? Listen to Episode 17 of “The Four Top.”
Ep. 16: Restaurateurs Under Trump | Whence the Midsized American Farm? | Institutional Eating
Restaurant owners may claim to be progressive, but are they benefiting from the policies of the Trump administration? Next: What’s the midway point between the boutique organic CSA and corporate Big Ag? The elusive and increasingly rare midsized American farm. Finally, is it the illness or is it the hospital food that’s making people sick? We diagnose the state of institutional eating in Episode 16.
Ep. 15: Spammed By ‘Spon Con’ | Convoluted Cobranding | Why Is Brewpub Food So Bad?
So-called “Spon Con” is influencing our food-purchasing decisions. But can we identify it when we see it? Next, cobranding has crossed over from fashion to food, with some bizarre consequences. We’ll debate the merits of Carhartt-brand beer and Tabasco-sauce-flavored Jelly Bellies. And finally, why is it so hard to get a decent meal at a brewpub? Join us as we unravel one of life’s great mysteries on Episode 15.
Ep. 14: Checkout Talk | Death Of The Dinner Party | ‘Average’ Home Cook
Do you feel like a deer in the headlights when a grocery-store cashier asks you how your day is going? Do you mourn the loss of proper old-fashioned dinner parties? If you’re nodding yes, you’ll love Episode 14. Our panelists tackle these two questions, then consider who, exactly, the “average” home cook is. Does contemporary culinary media serve this demographic?
Ep. 13: Food Network Champion Tells All | Laptop Squatters Killing Cafés? | Surprising Reasons Why Kids Should Cook
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to appear on a culinary reality show, tune into Episode 13 to hear Kyra Bussanich, four-time champion of “Cupcake Wars,” tell all. Next, we debate the impact of freelance workers who camp out at coffee shops for free wi-fi: Are they bringing down the bottom lines of small businesses? Finally, our conversation turns to some of the surprising reasons children should learn how to cook.
Ep. 12: Why Truffles Are Like Drugs | Restaurant Playlists | Rethinking The Microwave
Are four-star restaurants serving narcotics? Truffles are sold on the black market for thousands of dollars per kilo; and according to Italian researchers, these homely little tubers can get you high. We discuss, then turn our attention to the role of music in enhancing the dining experience. Do you prefer to eat to the sound of silence, soothing violins, or something more sonically dynamic? Finally, microwaves: We think outside the box.
Ep. 11: ‘Martha And Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party’ | Dictatorial Dining | Single-Subject Cookbooks
Meet the only cooking show that brings high society together with “high” society: “Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party.” Next, get to know the hardline rules restaurants are increasingly laying down for customers to follow. Finally, what’s the appeal of the single-subject cookbook? Savor the conversation as our team of panelists debate these issues, and more.
Ep. 10: Competitive Culinary Tourism | Eating Under Embargo | Rum, From Cuba With Love
As American tourists stream into the newly opened nation of Cuba, they’re driven by a desire to capture this magical moment. But how “authentic” is a Cuban dining experience when full-time residents don’t have access to many foods? After a heavy conversation about privation, we lighten the mood with a brief history—and taste—of Cuban rum.
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, WWI Posters, 4-P-59
Ep. 9: The Juice Cleanse | Digital Foraging | Food On The WWI Homefront
Our roundtable of culinary experts pulverize those popular cold-pressed juice cleanses, scan the digital realm for the newest ways to forage for wild edibles, and commemorate the century anniversary of the United States’ involvement the First World War, when the home front fought with Victory Gardens and Meatless Mondays.
Penn Waggener / Flickr
Ep. 8: The Tyrannical Traditional Table | Fake Food Holidays | Culinary Class Divide
With the help of Megan Scott, the fresh new face of “The Joy of Cooking,” our panelists question holiday food traditions and decry the scourge of fake food holidays (although National Eggnog Day might get a pass). Finally, they tackle the troubling class divide between foodies and those less fortunate.
Ep. 7: Have You Eaten Your Sea Vegetables? | New in Food for 2017 | Doing the Hoke-ay Poke
Wild, nutritious, delicious and planet-friendly, sea vegetables are the next big thing. So is poke, the Hawaiian cured-fish dish. But at what cost? We consider both, and weigh in on which culinary trends will take fire in 2017.
Ep. 6: So What About Soylent? | Craft Beer’s Dirty Little Secret | Fear the Great White Yeti
We uncover craft beer’s dirty little secret and examine the cult phenom that is the Yeti cooler company — but not before sipping Soylent, the embattled Silicon Valley food replacement.
Ep. 5: Dining In The Instagram Era | Shedding Light On Secret Menu Items | Martha Stewart’s Meal-Prep Kits And
In our fifth episode, our panelists investigate the “secret menu” trend that’s happening in national chain restaurants and discuss the significant impact Instagram has had on restaurant menus. In addition, our two professional recipe testers try out Martha Stewart’s new meal-kit delivery service, “Martha & Marley Spoon,” and compare it with the competition.
Ep. 4: Session Beers Back | Fast Casual Dining | The War On Minimum Wage
In our fourth episode, we embrace the return of the simple session beer and explore the new millennial-friendly restaurant category called “fast casual.”
We also discuss the connection between restaurant workers and changing minimum wage laws.
Ep. 3: Recipe Theft | Born-Again Chefs | Tipping … Over?
In our third episode, we explore the nefarious realm of recipe theft, discuss the recent trend of born-again chefs ditching bacon and embracing health food, and debate the end of tipping as we know it.
Ep. 2: BS Food Terms | Flavor Bombs | Bycatch Curious
In our second episode, we kvetch about B.S. food terminology, learn why inherent flavor will save our lives and cast our net around bycatch, the best new thing in seafood.
Ep. 1: Breakfast Insanity | Dining Out On Apps | Talking Trash About Food Waste
Welcome to “The Four Top.” In our debut episode, we talk trash about food waste, unpack the baffling breakfast-ization of dinner and test-drive the hottest dining apps for your phone.
Trailer: ‘The Four Top’
Check out the trailer for “The Four Top,” a roundtable of culinary media insiders dishing about today’s food and beverage culture. Hosted by Katherine Cole.