Stream It Or Skip It?

Eater’s Guide To The World, produced by the website Eater (and its parent company, Vox Media), takes an irreverent look at different food destinations around the world. Narrated by Maya Rudolph, each episode revolves around how people experience food in the various locations as much as the food itself or the chefs that create the food that’s featured. From late-night/early-morning eats in New York, to “natural sweets” in Costa Rica, to eating in your car in L.A. to fine eats at the airport, the show tries to arrange the usual shots of food porn and people orgasmically enjoying what they eat into different categories, all tied together with Rudolph’s funny narration.

Opening Shot: Scenes of snow-covered pine trees in the Pacific Northwest. We then hear the voice of Maya Rudolph go, “Ahhhh…. Solitude, bitches.”

The Gist: From that first line, Eater’s Guide To The World introduces itself as a food and travel show that’s a bit different. In the first episode, Eater extolls the virtues of eating by yourself in the Pacific Northwest, mostly in Portland. Solo dining is something Portlanders do a lot, mainly because they can enjoy whatever food they want and experience it the way they want. We see Portland Monthly food critic Karen Brooks, for instance, sitting at the chef’s counter or the bar of various restaurants, trying tasting menus and talking to the chefs that created those menus. One of the restaurants she goes to, Han Oak, is actually part of the house the chef and his family live in.

In Seattle, we’re introduced to the restaurant Addo, with wild-hared chef Eric Rivera. At his chef’s counter, four women enjoy his tasting menu, created out of whole cloth every week; one of whom, a professor named Dr. Suh, is a proponent of the Buddhist principle of “mindful eating.” Back in Portland, there are out of the way places like the dive bar with great fried chicken and a bar called “Detention” in an old school building. And in the remote town of Sisters, Oregon, we visit the Suttle Lodge, with a fantastic fish sandwich, and visit with the wood sculptor who makes the intricate pieces of art that adorn the resort.

Eater's Guide To The World
Photo: Hulu

What Shows Will It Remind You Of? In a way, Eater’s Guide To The World reminds us of just about every food show, and in a way it doesn’t. But it fits right in with the somewhat alternate format of Hulu’s other big food show, Taste The Nation With Padma Lakshmi.

Our Take: What struck us about Eater’s Guide To The World is that it’s trying really hard to make us laugh. And from time to time it does; you don’t have Rudolph reading your copy and not have it come out funny. But what we noticed during the first episode was a show that was basically telling the viewer, “Look! We’re not your usual boring food-and-travel show! We curse! We don’t take ourselves seriously!” For the most part, it’s trying so hard that it distracts from learning about these various haunts that the show wants us to get to know.

Do we really need to know that Sisters is so isolated that you “can really let one rip and no one would know”? Yes, that was one of the lines that made us laugh, but it doesn’t tell us much about the town, the resorts that are there, and the food they like to eat. That kind of information is something we might like to have known.

Lakshmi’s aforementioned show does a much better job at applying some lightheartedness to a show that examines the people that live in the areas she visits as well as provide enough food porn to make you hungry. So there is a formula to making a food-travel show that doesn’t take itself so seriously but gives more than enough to the viewer to make them want to visit.

Eater’s Guide To The World doesn’t quite get there; it could be because of it’s host-free format that keeps viewers at a distance, or it could just be the idea that “give Maya Rudolph a script and let her roll with it” does not make a food show unique. The parts just don’t make a cohesive whole.

Sex and Skin: Besides the food porn, nothing.

Parting Shot: Skip, the wood carver in Sisters, Oregon, has a tower with an elevator attached to his isolated home. “Everyone should have a tower,” he says.

Sleeper Star: Though we’d like to hang out with Skip while he makes sculptures of eagles with his chain saw, the former food critic in us would probably love to restaurant hop through Portland with Karen Brooks.

Most Pilot-y Line: When describing the “serene green of Oregon,” Rudolph says, “I mean, just look at that shit.” Supposed to be ironic, we know, but another example of an unnecessarily distracting line.

Our Call: SKIP IT. Aside from Maya Rudolph’s narration, Eater’s Guide To The World doesn’t offer anything you haven’t seen in dozens of shows on Food Network and elsewhere over the past 20 or so years.

Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon,,, Fast Company and elsewhere.

Stream Eater’s Guide To The World On Hulu