Rank #1: Mario Batali, Coastal Italian Feast
You know Mario Batali. His passion for Italian cuisine made him one of the most recognizable celebrity chefs in the world. Well... that and his signature orange Crocs.
Join Rachel as she mambos Italiano with "Molto Mario" from his humble beginnings in Washington State to cooking for President Obama's final State Dinner. And speaking of the White House, Rachel gets unique insight into the kitchens at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue from former White House chef John Moeller whose tenure spanned both Bush's and the Clinton's presidencies.
This week's YLM also includes advice on how to become the best chef you can be, and profiles the history of America's first celebrity chef: fellow Italian-American Chef Boyardee.
Nov 29 2016
Rank #2: Deb Perelman, Artichokes
Deb Perelman is the creator of the award-winning food blog Smitten Kitchen and a New York Times bestselling author whose cookbook holds Rachel's personal record for most recipes used.
On this episode of YLM, we find out how Deb turned her 2003 blog into a full-time empire, how she met her husband in the comments section, and of course, her last meal, which happens to be an ancient aphrodisiac enjoyed at Roman orgies (!!).
Rachel also talks to Italian travel writer, the absolutely delightful Susan Van Allen about an overly dramatic Rabbi who caused an artichoke controversy that rocked the Jewish/Italian food world only a few months ago. Bonus: hear Susan's beautiful pronunciation of "carciofi alla giudia!"
Support your favorite neighborhood bookstore and pick one up Deb's books, "Smitten Kitchen Cookbook" including her latest, "Smitten Kitchen, Every Day - Triumphant and Unfussy New Favorites." You can also check out the recipes on her blog smittenkitchen.com.
You can find Susan Van Allen's books and articles on Italy at susanvanallen.com which is also where you can sign up for one of the women-only trips she leads through her beloved Italy.
Don't forget to follow Rachel on Instagram at yourlastmealpodcast!
Jul 26 2018
Rank #3: Rick Steves, Chef's Choice
Travel expert, TV & radio host, author, and activist Rick Steves has been taking people all around the planet for decades. And his passion for unique and authentic experiences, living in the moment, and trying new things matches perfectly with how Rick chose to have his last meal.
Rick has also been a longtime proponent of legalizing marijuana, so Rachel gets to the bottom of how cannabis confections are created with Jody Hill, founder of Seattle cupcake empire Cupcake Royal, as she shares how they do things at her edibles company The Goodship.
And finally, Rachel talks with her co-worker, KIRO Radio host John Curley, about his menuless 2017, and a few of John's more... let's call them "idiosyncratic" food habits.
Buy any of Rick Steves' fantastic videos and books, including the brand new 3rd edition of "Travel as a Political Act," at ricksteves.com.
Learn more about The Goodship Company at thegoodship.com.
Mar 01 2018
Rank #4: Prodigy, Korean BBQ
Legendary East Coast rapper Prodigy (Mobb Deep) served over 3 years in prison, but because of his sickle cell disease, had to eat well or he'd be painfully ill. The prison food, as you can guess, wasn't exactly full of vitamins. So, he wrote "Commissary Kitchen: My Infamous Prison Cookbook," with dozens of recipes he and his fellow inmates would cook with foods available to them on the inside.
Rachel also talks with Death Row Chef Brian D. Price, author of "Meals to Die For," who has cooked 218 last meals in Texas for condemned inmates before they banned last meals in 2011. He's got some amazing stories, and is trying to get the practice reinstated.
Also on YLM this week, Matt Rodbard, author of "Koreatown: A Cookbook," and Rachel makes & eats a dish from Prodigy's cookbook called Prison Surprise!
We're taking a short break for the Holidays, so see you in January!
Dec 14 2016
Rank #5: Jenny Slate, Cherry Pie
Jenny Slate (Landline, Obvious Child, Parks & Rec,) exposes her sweet tooth on this edition of YLM! The super-delightful actor & comedian goes full-cherry with her last meal which includes a slice of cherry pie and a Shirley Temple.
What comes to mind when you think of cherry pie? If you're like Rachel, two things: that famous Warrant song, and Twin Peaks. So we've got both! Rachel talks to Warrant's guitar player Joey Allen about the history behind their iconic song and why he can no longer eat cherry pie.
Also, we're live from Twede's Cafe in North Bend, WA, better known as the Double R Diner in David Lynch's "Twin Peaks," for Rachel's first ever slice of cherry pie and she talks to owner Kyle Twede about what goes into their famous dessert.
Aug 10 2017
Rank #6: Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Lobster
Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson is a celebrity astrophysicist (yes - that's a thing!), author, Director of The Hayden Planetarium in NYC, host of "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey" on Fox and the "Star Talk" radio show, and the guy we love to blame for Pluto not being a planet anymore.
On this episode of YLM, Rachel talks with one of the greatest scientific voices of our time about his love of melted butter, the time he almost became a stripper, and what foods Neil would take with him if he could travel to space.
Speaking of space travel, former NASA Astronaut & Hubble Space Telescope repairman Mike Massimino (author of "Spaceman: An Astronaut's Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe") tells Rachel all about eating in zero gravity, the last meal he ate before his first shuttle launch, and what food options are available for a crew orbiting Earth.
SPOILER: There is definitely steak in space!
Thanks also to lobster expert Barton Seaver, author of "For Cod and Country."
Jun 01 2017
Rank #7: Rainn Wilson, A Vegetarian Israeli Spread
Actor Rainn Wilson is best known for playing Dwight Schrute on the American version of The Office. But when he's not acting, he's trying to make the world a better place. Rainn and his wife run a non-profit called Lide Haiti, to help educate at-risk girls in Haiti, and last year they attempted to transition from voracious meat lovers to plant chomping vegans. Which leads us to Rainn's last meal: a vegetarian Israeli feast!
Rainn's last meal allowed host Rachel Belle to unpack a topic she's been ruminating on for years: the disappointing state of hummus in America. David Nussbaum, owner of Seattle's fantastic Aviv Hummus Bar, joins the conversation to discuss the difference between American hummus and Israeli chooomousse (emphasis on the guttural "ch"), why it took him years to perfect a dish with only three ingredients and why he refuses to water down his recipes to suit American palates.
If you pronounce bruschetta "broosketta" and say "cwassan" instead of croissant, this is the episode for you! Or! If you think it's pretentious to pronounce bruschetta "broosketta" and say "cwassan" instead of croissant...this is also the episode for you.
On May 30th, 2019, Seattle Paramount Theater is hosting Rainn Wilson & Friends, a night of music and comedy with Joel McHale, Michael Franti, Chris Ballew (a previous "Your Last Meal" guest!) and more. Ticket sales benefit the Mona Foundation, a non-profit celebrating 20 years of partnering with and supporting grassroots initiatives around the world that provide education to all children and increase opportunities for girls and women.
Apr 25 2019
Rank #8: John Hodgman, Eggs and the Best Pizza in Maine
Prepare to fall in (even deeper) love with John Hodgman! Rachel talks with the reliably wry and clever comedian, author, actor, and podcaster about everything from whether or not a hot dog is a sandwich to the dangers of vacationing in Maine to the egg-istentially steadying quality of a hot plate of scrambled eggs.
Speaking of a plate of eggs... how many can you hork down? Rachel and Producer Aaron head to Seattle's legendary Beth's Cafe to attempt to conquer their infamous 12-egg omelette, and they chat with owner Chris Dalton about owning one of the last 24 hour greasy spoon diners in the city.
And when egg-xactly did everyone starting eating eggs for breakfast? And why? Rachel Khong, author of "All About Eggs" has the answers.
Pick up John's book "Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches" now in paperback wherever books are sold, and listen to his wonderful podcast "Judge John Hodgman" at maximumfun.org or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Jun 30 2018
Rank #9: Isaac Mizrahi, Spaghetti with Homemade Sauce & Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Acclaimed fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi has it all: humor, heart and hot takes on the culinary world. He knows what he likes (beefsteak tomatoes from his Long Island summer garden) and what he doesn't like (today's pickling trend), and he shares it all with award winning host Rachel Belle in the latest episode of the James Beard Award nominated podcast "Your Last Meal."
Isaac sends Rachel on a mission to uncover a mint chocolate chip ice cream mystery. So Rachel summons Ben & Jerry's flavor guru, Eric Fredette, who's responsible for creating flavors like Tonight Dough and Brownie Batter Core, Heather Hodge, head chef and manager of culinary operations at Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream in Seattle, and Nestle's test kitchen manager Meredith Tomason. Nestle invented the chocolate chip, or the "morsel," back in the 1940s and Meredith shares the history of the legendary Toll House chocolate chip cookie.
Everything Isaac Mizrahi, including how to get his new book I.M.: A Memoir, is available at helloisaac.com.
Apr 15 2019
Rank #10: Dan Savage, Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich
Dan Savage is an author, journalist, LGBTQ activist, and media pundit. From his internationally syndicated sex-advice column "Savage Love," to his massively popular podcast "Savage Lovecast," Dan is never afraid to speak his mind.
On this week's YLM, Rachel talks to Dan about food, sex, food during sex, food after sex... and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
We've got a special treat this episode! Since it's our last show before the big election, we've got a presidential-style debate about Dan's (and America's) favorite food that you don't want to miss.
Special thanks to Cathy Johnson from the National Peanut Board. Original music by Prom Queen.
Nov 01 2016
Rank #11: Tom Leykis, Steak & Red Wine
Controversial "shock jock" Tom Leykis has been on the air for decades and made his fair share of enemies with his polarizing views on women and relationships.
But nobody is one-dimensional, and in her effort to get to the bottom of why Tom is the way he is, Rachel discovered a charming man who makes his own wine, loves to experiment in the kitchen, and refuses to buy meat from a grocery store.
On that note, we talk to Tom's butcher Lou DeRosa of Marconda's Meats, the oldest standing meat market in Los Angeles - where 3 generations of DeRosa butchers have been working since 1941.
Oct 19 2017
Rank #12: Samin Nosrat, The Entire Menu at El Molino Central
Samin Nosrat is the James Beard Award winning, New York Times bestselling author of the book Salt Fat Acid Heat and the charming host of the Netflix series by the same name. Samin laughs easily, is brimming with curiosity and brings new life and authenticity to the saturated world of food media. Get yourself a boyfriend who looks at you the way Samin looks at a roast chicken.
Samin grew up in San Diego, with an Iranian mother who was a fantastic cook. And while she loves her mother's Persian cooking, her heart belongs to Mexican food, specifically the entire menu at El Molino Central in Sonoma County, California.
Rachel chats with Karen Taylor, owner of El Molino, about what makes her tortillas and tamales so special and Samin and Rachel debate which is the best way to wrap a burrito: in foil or yellow paper.
Then we welcome Bon Appétit magazine's senior editor Andy Baraghani to the show. Andy says he spent his life trying to hide his Iranian heritage until a food magazine asked him to create a Persian spread that reconnected him to his culture. And Rachel cooks Persian rice with Omid Roustaei, a passionate Persian cooking teacher in Seattle. The Caspian Chef teaches her how to make the coveted, crispy tahdig that forms on the bottom of the pot.
Samin Nosrat is speaking at Seattle's Benaroya Hall on March 10th, 2019 and at Revolution Hall in Portland on March 11, 2019
Mar 01 2019
Rank #13: William Shatner, Sushi and Mexican Food
Prolific actor William Shatner is best known for his role as Captain Kirk on Star Trek and "singing" popular songs in his signature spoken word style. But he also has strong opinions about avocado toast, considers himself a sushi connoisseur and loves beautifully made Mexican food.
So Rachel took a trip to Sushinola, one of the country's few Sinaloa style Mexican sushi restaurants, in Kent, Washington. Rolls are stuffed with carne asada, topped with pico de gallo, drizzled with housemade chipotle sauce and deep fried because co-owner Anayancy Reyes says most Mexicans are decidedly not fans of raw fish.
And psychology professor Dr Julia Hormes joins the show to share her fascinating research on cravings. Turns out, food cravings are cultural and psychological, not a universal human experience, and Americans are the true kings and queens of cravings. And the whole thing about pregnant women craving crazy combinations like pickles and ice cream? Dr Hormes will set the record straight.
Get tickets for An Evening with William Shatner at McCaw Hall at Seattle Center on June 10th, 2019.
May 24 2019
Rank #14: Linda Perry, Vegan Donuts and the Science of Sonic Seasoning
You may not recognize Linda Perry by name, but you definitely know her music.
She is a singer, songwriter, and producer behind massive hits for Adele, Weezer, Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys, Gwen Stefani, Pink, and many more! She's also the writer/singer behind the 90s hit (and solid karaoke jam) "What's Up" by her former band 4 Non Blondes.
But what would this musical maestro choose for her last meal? Spoiler alert: She's way more into music than food.
Which got us thinking - is there any correlation between music and taste? To get answers, Rachel talks with Professor Charles Spence of The University of Oxford about what he calls "Sonic Seasoning," his 15 year study of how sound and music can affect the enjoyability of food, and why people drink so much tomato juice on airplanes.
Linda is currently collaborating with Intuit QuickBooks new Backing You campaign to help independent artists be seen, heard and celebrated.
Get Professor Spence's new book Gastrophysics: The New Science of Eating wherever books are sold.
And follow Rachel's new Instagram account @yourlastmealpodcast!
Apr 19 2018
Rank #15: Allen Stone, Nachos
On this episode of YLM, Allen tells Rachel about his musical roots, the dish his fiancee cooked that inspired his song VooDoo, and what it's like to tour with an organ player who is also an amateur chef. (Sous-vide steak in the Motel 6 bathtub anyone?)
And in case you didn't know, 'chos aren't just chips and cheese anymore! Rachel chats with former Food and Wine magazine editor Gina Hamadey about some of the genre-defying recipes she compiled from celebrities and chefs in her weird and wonderful cookbook, "Buenos Nachos."
This year also happens to be a big anniversary for nachos! Rachel talks to Derek Sotak of nachonomics.com about the history of one of humanity's favorite foods.
Support Allen Stone by buying his music or seeing him on tour this fall. Details at allenstone.com.
Aug 17 2018
Rank #16: Greta Gerwig, Funfetti Cake
Greta Gerwig, the Golden Globe winning writer/director of "Lady Bird," and star of one of Rachel's all-time favorite films "Francis Ha," is the talk of Hollywood! But one question no one on the red carpet has asked: What would Greta want for her last meal?
Speaking of Rachel's favorites, one of her favorite culinary writers, and a Forbes' 30 Under 30 in 2017, Molly Yeh shares the secrets behind perfecting her own Funfetti cake - which she makes from scratch. Even the sprinkles!
Also: what it's like to meet Justin Timberlake, the surprising origins of the "You Are Special" plate, and we hear what YOU would have as your last meal.
Go see "Lady Bird" in theaters now. If you don't like it, you'll literally be the only one.
Visit Molly Yeh's website mynameisyeh.com and order her cookbook "Molly on the Range."
And don't forget to send your last meal voice memos to firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured on the show! Just record a quick memo on your phone with your first name, city you live in and what you would choose to eat for your last meal.
Jan 11 2018
Rank #17: Adam Carolla, Hungarian Goulash and Chicken Paprikash
Former radio & TV personality and current host of the most downloaded podcast of all time Adam Carolla has never forgotten where he comes from. On this episode of Your Last Meal, he takes Rachel back to his grandfather's roots in Eastern Europe to explore a type of cuisine that's not all that easy to find in the US: Hungarian. And he shares the origin story behind his sweet, high-octane signature drink Mangria.
Rachel also talks to Carolyn Banfalvi, a food writer and food tour operator living in Budapest, Hungary, about some of the country's most classic dishes like Goulash, Chicken Paprikash and sweet dessert wine Tokaju Aszu.
And the traditional goulash of Hungary is nothing like the goulash Rachel ate in 90s, hanging out at her middle school best friend's house. Rachel reconnects with her old bestie, Lauren Mera, to get the scoop on her family's goulash recipe and, in the process, discovers the peculiar way Lauren's dad cooks hot dogs.
To get tickets to see Adam at one of his upcoming live podcast tapings or to score a bottle of several different flavors of Mangria, visit adamcarolla.com
To get Carolyn's books or schedule a food and wine tour through Budapest, visit carolynbanfalvi.com.
Jul 12 2018
Rank #18: Zach Braff, Chicken Parmigiana
On this week's YLM, Rachel digs into the cheesy, saucy and fascinating history of Italian food in America with Krishnendu Ray, Department Chair of the Food Studies Program at NYU. Then she talks with cookbook author and Long Island native Amy Pennington about how to make the perfect red-checkered-tablecloth-and-Chianti-bottle-candleholder chicken parm.
Watch Zach in Alex Inc, now streaming at abc.com.
Check out Krishnendu Ray's book "The Ethnic Restaurateur," an academic look at the immigrant perspective of working in restaurants.
Visit amy-pennington.com to get any of her books including her newest cookbook "Salad Days."
And follow yourlastmealpodcast on Instagram!
Jun 01 2018
Rank #19: Sir Mix-A-Lot, Texas Redfish Pontchartrain
2017 marks the 25th anniversary of Sir Mix-A-Lot's monster hit "Baby Got Back." (I know, right?!) Rachel asks the rapper/producer about his iconic tribute to tush, what the song really means, and why it was good getting banned from MTV.
OH, BUT THE FOOD! YLM goes down to Louisiana to uncover the difference between Cajun and Creole (cuisine and culture) from Chef & TV host John Folse, author of The Encyclopedia of Cajun & Creole Cuisine, and Louisiana Eats' Poppy Tooker. Rachel also talks to Georgea Pappas, daughter of the founder of Pappadeux: the home of Texas Redfish Ponchartrain and a favorite of Hip Hop's finest.
Mar 22 2017
Rank #20: Ken Jennings, BBQ (and Jell-O)
In 2004, Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings won 74 episodes in a row, making him the record holder for longest winning streak. And 14 years later, host Rachel Belle decided it would finally be a good idea to interview him.
Ken shares Alex Trebek's strange and sugary breakfast choice (you'll never guess), he explains why Jeopardy contestants have to eat lunch together and, a huge BBQ lover, tells us why he doesn't want to be known as a "BBQ guy."
He also clues us in to the regional food of Utah: Jell-O! Ken's last meal is not Jell-O, but the jiggly dessert was too iconic to pass up. We learn the history of Jell-O with Lynne Belluscio, executive director of the Jell-O Gallery in LeRoy, NY, who tells us that Mormons in Utah eat more of it than anyone else in the country.
Check out Ken's fun and informative books at www.ken-jennings.com and his new podcast OMNIBUS, an encyclopedic reference work of strange-but-true stories with musician John Roderick, at www.omnibusproject.com.
Jan 25 2018