Lunch Therapy

By Adam Roberts

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Description

Adam Roberts analyzes guests by asking what they had for lunch.

Episode Date
Ep. 29 -- Jen Agg's Ready For Her Yogurt
01:12:13

Jen Agg has been called "the most influential restaurateur in Toronto" -- she currently owns Grey Gardens, Rhum Corner, Le Swan, and Bar Vendetta -- and her book, "I Hear She's A Real Bitch," was praised by Anthony Bourdain as: "A terrific, beautifully written, frank, and funny memoir." During today's session, Jen talks about her attention to detail, dealing with prickly customers, what it felt like publishing such a confessional memoir, and her ambition to open the best restaurant in Toronto. We also cover her unattainable standards, the food scene in Toronto, serving horse (!!), the secret to her tomato sauce, and whether or not she'd hire me as a server.

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Feb 17, 2020
Ep. 28 -- Kyle Buchanan's "Deranged" Gas Station Snacks
01:11:27

As The Carpetbagger for The New York Times, Kyle Buchanan covers the awards season with profiles of nominated actors (including recent ones of Brad Pitt, Adam Driver, and Renée Zellweger) and in-depth analysis of the movie industry's biggest nights. He also happens to be our neighbor (our dogs are best friends) and in today's session, Kyle makes himself vulnerable in a way he never has before: by talking about food. We talk about his favorite foods as a kid, saying a prayer for the lamb before eating lamb chops, why he thinks his relationship to food is "deranged," and his aversion to vegetables. We also cover his favorite food movies, ordering a Seamless Sizzler steak, the relationship between food and "self-care," and the solitariness of cooking just for yourself.

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Feb 10, 2020
Ep. 27 -- Nik Sharma's Passion Fruit Pavlova Doughnut
01:12:27

Nik Sharma is the award-winning author of the cookbook "Season," the creator of the pioneering food blog A Brown Table, and a regular recipe columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle. In today's session, Nik talks about his recent move to L.A., how the food scene here compares to the food scene in San Francisco, growing up in India, his early interest in science, how science impacts his cooking, and why he detests turnips. We also talk about his coming out, how it was a criminal offense to be gay in India, his family's reaction, his moving to the States to go to grad school, and how and why he quit his PhD program to become a food writer.

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Feb 03, 2020
Ep. 26 -- Barrett Foa's Garlicky Dips
01:12:04

Turn on your TV and there's a good chance you'll see Barrett Foa: he's been playing Eric Beale on NCIS: Los Angeles for eleven years. In addition to that, Barrett's been on Broadway (Avenue Q! Spelling Bee!) and he most recently played Prior Walter in Angels in America at the St. Louis Rep. In today's session, Barrett describes "The Foa Philosophy," talks about growing up in New York City, learning etiquette at fancy restaurants, his pet peeves on dates, and why it wasn't such a stretch for him to enjoy Burning Man. We also talk about him losing his mom four years ago, her own involvement in the food world (she's in the Le Cirque documentary), bulking up and losing weight for various parts, why he enjoys planning trips, and whether or not this podcast will get him a boyfriend.

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Jan 27, 2020
Ep. 25 -- Susan Feniger's Salsa Macha, Guacamole, and Chips
01:11:01

Susan Feniger is a force to be reckoned with in the food world. Along with her business partner Mary Sue Milliken, Feniger has received countless awards (including the prestigious Julia Child Award and the Jonathan Gold Award), opened several legendary restaurants (including The Border Grill), co-hosted one of the first Food Network shows (Too Hot Tamales), appeared on Top Chef Masters, and authored countless cookbooks. I'm so thrilled to have her as my patient on today's Lunch Therapy and our-hour session covers her early years in Ohio, her mother's midwestern Jewish cooking, her living in a teepee that she sewed for herself in Vermont, meeting her first husband there, realizing she was gay, separating from him and then setting him up with her business partner (Mary Sue) who's still married to him today (!!!). We talk about working for Wolfgang Puck at Ma Maison (where she'd see Orson Welles on the regular), working for a closeted gay chef in Chicago, working at a Michelin three-star restaurant in La Napoule, France (where she learned a killer salad dressing), and how she began to gravitate to Indian food and Mexican food through her travels. We also cover her brand new restaurant, Socalo, where she works the line (sometimes fifteen hours a day) and still finds the time to do meaningful charity work (she's helped raise $48 million dollars for scleroderma research).

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Jan 20, 2020
Ep. 24 -- Dr. Deanie Eichenstein Analyzes My Tuna Sandwich
01:10:41

Buckle your seatbelts: for the first Lunch Therapy recorded in 2020, I decided to switch things around with an actual psychologist, Dr. Deanie Eichenstein, who puts my lunch under the microscope. Learn all about my pre-med years and my decision to go to law school, how I got from there to being a writer (meeting Craig in the process), and how choosing my lunch is often a question of shifting identities. We also cover how smell plays an important role for me, my fear of pooping in coffee shops, and how my people-pleasing instincts make it difficult not to go overboard at dinner parties.

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Jan 13, 2020
Ep. 23 -- Luke Matheny's Customizable Turkey Burger with Artichokes
01:04:57

You may remember Luke Matheny from the 2011 Academy Awards, when he won for Best Live Action Short and said: "Uh, I should've gotten a haircut." Since then, Luke's gone on to direct ten episodes of Marc Maron's Maron and to be the showrunner of Gortimer Gibbon's Life on Normal Street. Today's session is a surprisingly emotional one: we cover the night of the Oscars, why he thinks cheesesteaks are the most delicious of all meals, his relationship to authority, rushing his son to the emergency room after giving him peanut butter. We also talk about why you need rules before you can improvise (in both burgers and filmmaking), his love of pancakes as a kid, why he smiles big when he talks about sweet food, his grandmother's Pennsylvania Dutch Pot Pie, and learning that the person who he thought was his grandfather wasn't really his grandfather.

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Jan 06, 2020
Ep. 22 -- Ben Mims's Burger First, Fries Second
01:02:25

Ben Mims is a cooking columnist for the L.A. Times, a cookbook author (Air Fry Every Day), the former Test Kitchen Director of Lucky Peach magazine, and a former food editor at both Saveur and Food & Wine. In today's session, we cover Ben's childhood in Mississippi, his unwillingness to mix sweet and savory, why he loathes lettuce, and how he went to culinary school to become a food writer. We also discuss the link between his coming out and his distaste for pork tenderloin, the hazing he endured at Jean-Georges and Perry Street, whether or not he has OCD, and how he comes up with his recipes.

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Dec 30, 2019
Ep. 21 -- Rachel Shukert's Other Half of the Bagel
01:03:54

Rachel Shukert is one of the funniest writers I know -- she's written books, plays, recaps of Smash for Vulture -- and now she's an accomplished TV writer, having worked on shows like GLOW and the upcoming Babysitter's Club, for which she was the showrunner. Today's session (which came after her real therapy session) covers Rachel's ambivalence towards cooking, her butcher grandfather and vegetarian parents, her two year-old's attitude towards food ("Eating, yuck!"), and what it was like growing up Jewish in Omaha, Nebraska. We also talk about her eating disorder in college, how meat helped her overcome it, what she craved when she was pregnant (a sandwich from DaVinci's in Lincoln), her Lithuanian grandmother, and how she makes her savory kugel.

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Dec 23, 2019
Ep. 20 -- Zach Brooks's Lule Kabobs on Lunch Island
01:14:31

Zach Brooks is the founder of Midtown Lunch, an iconic food blog that helped people working in midtown Manhattan find a decent place to eat back in the early aughts. Since then, he's hosted the super successful podcast "Food is the New Rock" and become the general manager of Smorgasburg L.A. During today's session, we find out why asking about his lunch is "too dark," what the meal was that inspired him to start his blog, and why he thinks the late, great Jonathan Gold hated him. We also cover "authenticity," his parents' divorce, cooking for his children, and why L.A. beats New York as the better lunch city.

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Dec 16, 2019
Ep. 19 -- Punam Patel's Did I Even Want a Quiche?
01:08:52

Punam Patel is the Emmy-nominated co-star of Netflix's "Special" -- she's also appeared on "Kevin From Work" and "I Feel Bad" -- and on today's Lunch Therapy she declares, right out of the gate: "I am food." Hear all about her two-part lunch (three-part, if you include the apple cider doughnut), her trip to Spain, her exercise lunches vs. her no-exercise lunches, and her dad's famous meat curry that she can no longer eat (she's a pescatarian). We also talk about her dieting up through her thirties, arbitrary standards of beauty, what it's like dealing with that in Hollywood, and what it means to be a Brown Butter Jew (will somebody make the t-shirt?).

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Dec 09, 2019
Ep. 18 -- James Rich's Drive-By Hummus Plate
01:11:39

James Rich grew up on a cider farm in Somerset, England, so it shouldn't be a surprise that he just wrote a cookbook called "Apple: Recipes from the Orchard." In today's session, James talks about getting engaged to his fiancé Pip in Palm Springs, how Yotam Ottolenghi was involved in their initial meeting, and why he's not eligible to go on The Great British Baking Show. We also get into the various breeds of apples, how cider is actually made, leaving Somerset for Barcelona and London, and how his feelings have changed regarding where he's from.

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Dec 02, 2019
Ep. 17 -- Karley Sciortino's Scrambled Egg Omelette
01:09:04

Karley Sciortino is the hilarious creator of the blog Slutever, which is now a TV show in its second season on Vice; she's also the sex and dating columnist for Vogue Magazine. On today's episode, we talk about the relationship between food and sex, how Karley differentiated from her food-loving family, and the journey she's gone on with her body image (it involves TJ Maxx and TCBY). We also cover her time living as a freegan in a London squat, why she refuses to eat tongue, and the most surprising thing she's encountered involving food and sex (it made me fall out of my chair laughing).

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Nov 25, 2019
Ep. 16 -- Lewaa Nasserdeen's Bunless Burger on a Bun
01:07:58

Remember the name Lewaa Nasserdeen: if he’s not running Hollywood in ten years, I’ll tear up my lunch therapy license! I met Lewaa when we were both staff writers on ABC’s The Real O’Neals and since then he’s been a writer/co-producer on Netflix’s Daredevil, starred in his own pilot, acted on NCIS: New Orleans, and gotten an overall deal at Skydance TV (where’s he developing all kinds of original content). In today’s session, we talk about growing up Lebanese in Alberta, Canada, where his mother — a professional pastry chef — showed love through food and the ripple effects that had for Lewaa later in life. We get into body image, developing a sense of humor as a defense mechanism, the first time he brought a boyfriend to his mother’s house for dinner, and why he wouldn’t dare try to recreate his mother’s food in his own kitchen.

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Nov 18, 2019
Ep. 15 -- Deb Perelman's Uzbeki Manti
01:16:26

You've been smitten with her since the early 2000s, and today Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen is my patient on Lunch Therapy. We talk everything from her efforts to recreate the brown bread she ate in Ireland, whether or not she's the heir to Ina Garten, and how her German-Jewish mother found salt and pepper to be "edgy." We also cover her brief career as an art therapist, what it means to have a food blog in 2019, and how she deals with people feeling like they know her.

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Nov 11, 2019
Ep. 14 -- Mark Harris's Bowl of Frosted Flakes with Blueberries
01:07:34

Mark Harris is the celebrated author of Pictures at the Revolution and Five Came Back, as well as a journalist for The New York Times, The Guardian, and Vanity Fair (for which he's covering the Oscars this year). In today's session, Mark talks about whether great food can rise to the level of great art, the truth about his typical day-to-day lunch journey, his favorite cookbooks, his favorite recipes, and how he and his husband (Angels in America playwright Tony Kushner) offer feedback when the other one cooks. Mark also waxes lyrical on his love for sandwiches -- sandwiches that know no bounds (Chinese food on a sandwich!) -- as well as the elements that truly make a sandwich great.

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Nov 04, 2019
Ep. 13 -- Melissa Clark's Apple of Truth
01:05:29

Melissa Clark is one of the most prolific food writers working today: she's the author of 43 cookbooks, as well as a weekly columnist for The New York Times AND a new podcast host ("Weeknight Kitchen with Melissa Clark"). She also turns out to be the perfect Lunch Therapy guest because both of her parents are psychiatrists. During today's session, we talk about how she comes up with a recipe, how she empowers people to have "personal responsibility in cooking," how she deals with criticism online (including for the famous pea-guacamole, denounced by TWO presidents, that wasn't even her recipe). We also go deep on how she used cooking to get her parents' attention, how she cultivated her voice as a writer, what she gets out of reading Proust, and whether or not baking brownies made her popular in high school.

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Oct 28, 2019
Ep. 12 -- David Lebovitz's Leftover Vegetables with Chicken
01:01:53

The man, the myth, the legend: David Lebovitz himself is this week's Lunch Therapy patient! The author of The Sweet Life in Paris, L'Appart, My Paris Kitchen, and The Perfect Scoop, David generously met with me when I was in New York and filled in the blanks about his life before he moved to France: his childhood in Connecticut, his years as a film student at Ithica (making doorknob slasher films), working at the Cabbagetown Cafe, traveling through Europe, and arriving in San Francisco just as it was becoming America's most exciting food city. Learn how he charmed Alice Waters during his interview, how he got lured into the world of pastry, and how he finds balance both in his cooking and in his life.

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Oct 21, 2019
Ep. 11 -- Christine Vachon's Hotel Room Snacks
00:57:46

Christine Vachon is one of the most celebrated producers in the world of film and if I told you some of the movies she's made, your head would spin: Carol, Still Alice, Far From Heaven, Happiness, Velvet Goldmine, Kids, Boys Don't Cry, I Shot Andy Warhol, Craig's favorite movie ("Safe" by Todd Haynes) and one of my favorite movies ("Hedwig and the Angry Inch" by John Cameron Mitchell). On today's podcast, find out what she eats for lunch, what she considers the cinematic equivalent of a chicken Caesar salad, what she cooks for her family, and how she deals with the food Nazis at her daughter's school. We also cover her favorite food films (not what you'd guess!), her favorite food city in the world (spoiler: it's San Sebastian), and why one of the worst nights of her life was dinner at Blue Hill Stone Barns.

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Oct 14, 2019
Ep. 10 -- Jeremy Fox's Beef Plate with Extra Beef
01:00:29

In 2008, The New York Times named Jeremy Fox's restaurant Ubuntu (in the Napa Valley) the second best restaurant in the United States. On today's Lunch Therapy, you'll learn how the pressure of that led Fox to leave the restaurant, re-examine his life, and to start all over again in Los Angeles, where he now runs three restaurants: Rustic Canyon (where my husband and I got engaged!), Tallulah's, and the newly opened Birdie G's. We also cover how he comes up with his novel food ideas (see: white chocolate and peas), reading Yelp, why explaining food to people is like explaining a joke, which foods he hates, and why folding towels is a key skill if you're working in his kitchen.

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Oct 07, 2019
Ep. 9 -- My Mother's Disappointing Latke
01:02:54

Batten down the hatches: today's Lunch Therapy guest is none other than... my mother! Yes, Heidi Roberts is visiting from Boca Raton, Florida and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to put her in the Lunch Therapy chair. We talk everything from cruises to diners to Weight Watchers to selling pickles with her mother at the Roosevelt Field Flea Market. We also get into more emotional territory towards the end (though we did have some technical difficulties; don't worry, you can still hear everything). So crack open those Sweet n' Low packets and enjoy today's session with my mom.

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Sep 30, 2019
Ep. 8 -- John Riggi's Night Salad
01:02:39

If I told you that there's a person who's not only written for 30 Rock, but also for The Comeback and The Larry Sanders Show, you'd say: "Such a person couldn't exist! Those are three of the greatest comedies of all time." Well such a person DOES exist and his name is John Riggi. In today's session, John talks about his mother's Italian restaurant in Cincinnati, Ohio, the link between comedy writing and cooking, feeding the 30 Rock writer's room on the Chopped set, connecting with his Italian roots, and recreating his mother's tortellini by touch. We also cover negotiations with spouses over dinner, similarities between Italians and Jews when it comes to meals, and, finally, how Italians eat pasta all the time without getting fat.

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Sep 23, 2019
Ep. 7 -- Marquita Robinson's Shabu Shabu
01:03:00

Marquita Robinson is a super successful TV writer working in L.A. (Blackish, GLOW, You're The Worst) and in today's session we journey back with her to her childhood on an Air Force base in Okinawa, Japan. We talk everything from You've Got Mail ("That caviar is a garnish!"), switching from Morton's to Diamond Crystal, her parents' love for Teriyaki sauce, the family's move to the Azores, Taco Rice, and what it's like to experience America America for the first time. Also: I make a joke so bad, Winston throws up.

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Sep 16, 2019
Ep. 6 -- Bill Addison's Big Sampler Plate
01:01:36

Bill Addison is the James Beard award-winning food critic for the Los Angeles Times and, in today's session, we go deep into his past, Ratatouille-style, and learn about his formative restaurant experiences (he still remembers the name of the waiter!), his obsession with Lebanese food, his capacity for self-criticism, and his mother's potato rolls. We also talk about his writing technique, L.A. as the greatest food city in America, and why he gets so mad when a restaurant sends over a free dish.

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Sep 09, 2019
Ep. 5 -- Carey O'Donnell's Honey BBQ Sriracha Chicken Starbucks Sandwich
01:04:19

Carey O'Donnell is a comedy writer for TV (Billy On The Street, Heathers, Summer Camp Island) and a hilarious presence on Twitter (@ecareyo), where he brilliantly satirizes popular culture. Today's session starts lightly enough: we talk about his artist boyfriend, the Parmesan soup they eat together, growing up a swimmer, outside Philadelphia, with his mom cooking him breakfast at 4 AM. Then we get deep: talking about his struggles with addiction, his recovery, and how the whole journey may have been foreshadowed by an encounter with a blueberry pie.

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Sep 03, 2019
Ep. 4 -- Nicole Rucker's Pancakes with the Ex
01:02:02

The author of Dappled: Baking Recipes for Fruit Lovers, and the four-time blue-ribbon winner of KCRW's Good Food Pie Contest, comes to Lunch Therapy headquarters on the heels of announcing her departure from the bakery she founded, Fiona. We get into the emotions of that -- at the time of her lunch therapy session, the news hadn't gone public yet -- and then we explore the path she took to become a celebrated baker (not, as she points out, a pastry chef). We also cover baloney burritos, the walnut tree in my backyard (!), and fake vegetarianism. 

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Aug 26, 2019
Ep. 3 -- Nik Dodani's Le Parisien
01:01:46

The actor (Atypical, Murphy Brown, Alex Strangelove) and stand-up comedian (The Late Show with Stephen Colbert) reports on his lunch with surprising specificity, confesses to his nickname growing up ("Picky Nicky"), sings the praises of his mother's Indian cooking, and revisits the period when he gave it all up for Lunchables. 

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Aug 19, 2019
Ep. 2 -- Jenni Konner's Anti-Lunch Tzaziki
01:03:58

The co-showrunner of HBO’s Girls confesses her true feelings about eating lunch, weighs her reasons for weighing burgers, menu-plans her upcoming nuptials based on the food at her favorite restaurant, and turns the tables on her lunch therapist, advising him on how to loosen up in order to throw the perfect Sunday afternoon dinner gathering.

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Aug 12, 2019
Ep. 1 -- Ryan O'Connell's Medium Pour
01:04:13

The Emmy-nominated star and creator of Netflix's Special walks us through his salad at Sweetgreen and along the way revisits traumatic lunches from childhood (room temp Taco Bell), Zagat adventures with his dad, and what he'd order if he could have any lunch in the world.

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Jul 28, 2019
Welcome to Lunch Therapy.
00:00:30

Lunch Therapy is a podcast where cookbook author and comedy writer Adam Roberts explores people's psychological issues based on what they eat for lunch. Sounds crazy? Well "crazy" isn't a very useful word, anyway. Make sure to subscribe to get updated on new episodes, and follow Adam's daily lunches on Instagram: @lunchtherapy. Who knows? He might even diagnose yours.

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Jul 25, 2019