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The Food Chain

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United Kingdom

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BBC

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English


Episodes

Can a Strong Drink Revive a City?

12/5/2018
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Does bourbon have the strength to reinvigorate a whole city? And is it really wise to seek answers at the bottom of a barrel? Kentucky produces 95 percent of the world’s bourbon and its history is richly steeped in the drink. But now its largest city, Louisville, has decided the future should rest on it too. Could ‘bourbonism’ revive the city? According to Louisville's mayor, tourism based on the amber liquor is ‘shooting through the roof’. But, for many, alcohol is a gateway into other...

Duration:00:27:06

Why the Heat about Meat?

11/28/2018
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Why do we get so angry when we talk about food? When conversation turns to meat in particular, it doesn’t take long for debate to become heated and emotive. Voices get louder. Insults are hurled. Death threats are issued. Earlier this month, a group of UK scientists suggested a tax on red and processed meat would save thousands of lives. The discussion that followed quickly changed from being scientific and factual, to personal. It’s not the first food debate to have turned ugly - and in...

Duration:00:26:28

Million Dollar Mouths

11/21/2018
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Who gets to decide what our food tastes like - and what gives them the authority to do so? Emily Thomas meets three people who are employed by the food industry to choose how processed food should taste. One of them has had his tongue insured for over one million dollars. All of them can identify complex flavour combinations with a single bite. They even speak in their own language...sometimes. So what’s it like to have such an enhanced sense of flavour? When you can smell someone else's...

Duration:00:26:42

Inside the Abattoir

11/14/2018
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This episode includes audio of the slaughter of farm animals, which some may find upsetting. But if you happily eat meat, should you be willing to listen along as cows become beef? Would you be happy to witness it? And what might change if you did? Emily Thomas visits Tideford Abattoir, a slaughterhouse in the south of England to get an uncomfortably close up view of animals becoming food. As our food supply becomes ever more global and industrial, many of us have become distanced from the...

Duration:00:26:28

Behind the (Food TV) Scenes

11/7/2018
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Three top food stylists - all of whom have ghost-written and cooked on behalf of the world’s top chefs - step out from behind the scenes. More often than not, when it comes to food in the media, a lot of what you are seeing, and reading is the work - not of a top chef - but a food stylist. ‘Home economists’ as they are also known, do everything from cooking the dishes you see on screen, to ghost writing whole cookery books, with all kinds of weird and wonderful food tasks in between. They...

Duration:00:26:42

I Took on the Food Industry

10/31/2018
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A powerful colossus is controlling most of what we eat. Who has the guts to take it on? Emily Thomas meets three people who have gone up against the food industry. From following trucks across Thailand to expose slavery in the fishing industry, to going undercover in Europe to reveal the hidden ingredients in processed food, to finding their phones have been infiltrated by spyware, these are people prepared to take risks. They talk about what it feels like to have such a powerful opponent,...

Duration:00:26:27

I'm With the Chef

10/24/2018
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If you think you’d like your other half to be able to cook like a Michelin-starred chef, this episode might make you think again. When a professional cook is at the top of their game, there might just be someone at home, picking up the pieces of a brutal schedule. Emily Thomas sits down with three people who are in long-term relationships with successful chefs and restaurateurs. They lift the lid on what it’s really like to live your life alongside someone in a profession notorious for being...

Duration:00:26:28

Aristocrats and Archaeo-Food Nerds

10/17/2018
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Have you ever felt the urge to share exactly the same culinary experience as your ancestors? Do you care what ancient Roman bread tasted like? Or what a 16th Century courtier smelt as he lifted a slice of roast beef to his mouth? Would you understand yourself, or today’s food system, better if you did? And if the closest you come to experiencing the past is watching period dramas on television, are you bothered by whether the pigeon is actually chicken - or the fish, cream cheese? How real...

Duration:00:26:29

Not Just a Rich White Woman’s Problem

10/10/2018
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Emily Thomas explores a stereotype with potentially life-threatening consequences - the idea that eating disorders are a problem that only affects white women in wealthy countries. She talks to black women in South Africa, Nigeria and the US who have had eating disorders. Their experiences and their cultural backgrounds are very different, but they all say the prevailing stereotype that eating disorders are a ‘white’ problem, makes it harder for black women to speak out and get the help they...

Duration:00:26:42

Unseen: The Rise of Eating Disorders in China

10/3/2018
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From diet pills to vomit rooms, the Food Chain investigates the rise of eating disorders in China. Is this an inevitable consequence of economic development? And if so, why are eating disorders still all too often seen as a rich white woman’s problem?’ In the first of two episodes to explore the rising prevalence of eating disorders outside of the western world, Emily Thomas speaks to women with the illness in China and Hong Kong, who explain how hard it is to access support for binge-eating...

Duration:00:26:28

The Ungarnished Truth: Restaurant Critics

9/26/2018
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Emily Thomas brings together a straight-talking crowd who are not afraid to ruffle a few feathers - even when they belong to the world’s most successful restaurateurs and chefs. Three restaurant critics from across the world don't hold back as they swap notes on the job, divulge the tricks of the trade, and confess whether they are ever left with a bad taste in their mouth after writing a scathing review. We hear how different the role of the restaurant critic is depending on where you are...

Duration:00:26:28

Going Off Cow's Milk?

9/19/2018
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Emily Thomas asks whether we’re on a slow but steady path to abandoning our pervasive, long-standing, and arguably slightly peculiar habit of drinking milk from cows. In many European countries and the US, alternative plant-based milks are growing in popularity, and cow's milk sales are declining. Is this just a blip in our millenia-old love affair with dairy, or a steady drip towards a cow's milk-free future? Three guests debate the potential effects on global poverty, the environment and...

Duration:00:26:42

Widowed: Food After Loss

9/12/2018
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In the second of two episodes on food and grief, Emily Thomas explores the food experiences of the widowed. In parts of the world where widowhood is seen as a source of shame, widows might be excluded from mealtimes, forbidden from eating nourishing food, and even forced to take part in degrading eating rituals. And even in some of the world's most developed countries where widowhood elicits sympathy rather than suspicion, the bereaved are still more likely to suffer nutritional deprivation...

Duration:00:26:42

Raw Grief

9/5/2018
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In the first of two episodes on food and grief, Emily Thomas explores how food can help us navigate through the darkest of times - the days, weeks, and even years following the death of someone we loved. In times of loss, should we use food to remember the dead or to reconnect with them? A neurologist explains the science behind grief and appetite, and people who've been recently bereaved talk about the foods and eating rituals that have helped them through it. (Photo: A raw onion. Credit:...

Duration:00:26:42

Rethinking the Celebrity Chef

8/29/2018
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Emily Thomas asks whether the curious phenomenon of the celebrity chef, is undergoing a metamorphosis. The modern celebrity chef has their finger in a lot of pies - multiple restaurant chains, merchandise, cookery books, TV programmes, even campaigning and charity work - oh, and then there’s that Michelin star to hang on to as well. A number of chefs now have fortunes running into hundreds of millions of dollars. The breadth of their expanding empires is something that the renowned chefs of...

Duration:00:26:33

The Invisible Ingredient

8/22/2018
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We’re killing time on The Food Chain this week. From crops that grow in just eight weeks, to whole meals that can sit on the shelf at room temperature for three years, at every stage of our food chain it seems, humans are battling against the clock, in the name of convenience, money or science. Emily Thomas asks what we lose in our attempt to eliminate this invisible ingredient. (Picture: Hand holding invisible object, Credit: Getty Images)

Duration:00:28:23

José Andrés: My Life in Five Dishes

8/15/2018
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Meet the Michelin-starred chef who, when he hears word of a natural disaster, jumps on a plane to get there, rolls up his sleeves, and mobilises thousands to feed the hungry. José Andrés is the winner of our 2018 Global Food Champion Award. He is a man with many strings to his bow: Michelin-starred chef, TV personality, educator, serial entrepreneur, author, but it is his humanitarian work and ability to mobilise others in times of need that really won our judges over, after being nominated...

Duration:00:26:29

Kelis: My Life in Five Dishes

8/8/2018
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We sit down with one of R&B’s most eccentric and compelling artists - singer-songwriter Kelis. Over the past 20 years she has produced era-defining hits like Milkshake, Caught Out There and Trick Me, and sold millions of records. So why did she decide to step away from the mic and into the chefs' whites at the Cordon Bleu academy? Kelis tells Emily Thomas all about her passion for food and her latest plans to open a farm-to-table restaurant. We hear how she has struggled to make the culinary...

Duration:00:28:23

Claudia Roden: My Life in 5 Dishes

8/1/2018
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The Food Chain listens back to My Life in Five Dishes with the renowned Egyptian cookery writer Claudia Roden - originally broadcast in January 2018. Claudia has been credited with revolutionising western attitudes to Middle Eastern and Jewish food. She tells Emily Thomas about her journey from a comfortable childhood in Cairo to exile in 1950s Britain. She explains how a longing for home led her to painstakingly collect recipes from across the Middle East, and how she turned them into...

Duration:00:26:29

Gordon Ramsay: My Life in Five Dishes

7/25/2018
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The Food Chain listens back to My Life in Five Dishes with chef and broadcaster Gordon Ramsay - originally broadcast in January 2018. Gordon is world-famous, but as he tells Emily Thomas, people no longer want to talk about his food. The celebrity has becomes known as much for his TV programmes displaying his fiery temper and explosive outbursts, as for his culinary skills. In this interview, the focus is firmly back on the food, as Gordon describes the five most unforgettable meals he’s...

Duration:00:26:42