Category Archives: interview

DidjaEat? Podcast 24 Derek Sheen


Hey Everyone!,

I sat down to interview the very funny and super cool Derek Sheen for the 24th DidjaEat? podcast. Derek is a standup comic based in Seattle and tours not only on his own but also as a feature for Brian Posehn. He has 2 albums out (Holy Drivel and Tiny Idiot) and just wrapped up his east coast tour. He will be hitting the west coast soon! So check out Derek on the podcast and also here:

Derek Sheen Facebook

Derek Sheen Twitter

derek

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Steakin’ up with Tony Luke Jr


I sat down with Philly Cheesesteak King Tony Luke Jr and had a great chat! We covered everything from cheesesteaks in Bahrain to Pizza in Dallas to high school in the 70’s. He was a great interview and a super nice guy to boot!

Check it out here!

or on itunes!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-didjaeat-podcast/id829963884

A Chat With The Big Cheese of the Vendy Awards


Unless you have been living under a very large rock, you may have noticed that Food Trucks have exploded in popularity in the past few years. This Saturday at Penn Treaty Park in Fishtown, the 4th Annual Vendy Awards are back with a vengence to crown the best in Food Truck-ery in Philly! Tickets are still available and all proceeds go to The Food Trust (the gang that runs Night Market), a worthy organization that makes sure there is healthy food out there for everyone.

We had a little chat with Zeina Muna, the Managing Director of the Vendy Awards, to get some delicious facts on this fun event benefitting a worthwhile cause.

How did the Vendy Awards come about?
The Vendy Awards’ modest beginnings took place in 2005 in an East Village (NYC) garage with only a handful of vendors. The Street Vendor Project was a young organization and wanted an occasion to celebrate NYC’s street food and an opportunity to showcase the vendors we represented. Today, we have expanded across the country to include events in Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Philadelphia!

How did you end up as Managing Director of the delicious Vendy Awards?
I have personally attended the Vendy Awards in NYC for the past 7 years. In 2011 I was lucky enough to be selected as a Citizen Judge to join the judge’s table to help pick the eventual winner of the 2011 NYC Vendy Cup! Needless to say it has been a thrill to be part of the organization and watch it grow – so when the opportunity came I put my name in the hat and the rest is history!

How did the SVP come to be as a part of the Urban Justice Center?
The Street Vendor Project joined the Urban Justice Center upon its founding in 2001. The Urban Justice Center has since operated as a collective of ten small projects that share common overhead costs and a common social justice mission.

Has there been an increased awareness to the plight of the vendor over the past few years with food trucks being so overwhelmingly popular?
Being a street vendor is a very difficult job – something that eaters of street food often do not know. Vendors are small business people struggling to make ends meet by working long hours, multiple jobs, and often in stressful conditions. Set up costs and maintenance are incredibly expensive and time consuming. To top that, there are often laws in place that are confusing or inconsistently monitored which can limit the availability of permits, where a food vendor can operate, and the health codes to follow.. In some ways, the rapid growth of street food has given people the impression that its easy to set up as a newbie – but the fact is its incredibly easy to have to shut down as well!

Are there plans to start new chapters of the Street Vendor project in the other cities in which the Vendy Awards happen, or are there
similar organizations out there?
There are no plans, at this time, but perhaps eventually! For now the goal is for these events to act as a fundraiser for local organizations in each city that have similar values to us.

Has there been a large growth in interest in the Vendy’s over the years?
Absolutely! Our audiences have grown and we are constantly getting requests to open in new cities. We have also seen a lot of our winners from prior years go on to grow – opening multiple trucks and even restaurants in some cases.

Finally, what is your favorite kind of food cart food, and what city do you think does it best?
I’d never kiss & tell! But in all honesty that is almost impossible to answer…. the quality, range, and quantity of food carts is so immense. Each chef has his or her own personal twist and each city has its own vibe and specialties. One of the best part of the Vendys is being able to try food from each truck, so that you are able to try a vendor you may not come across on your regular route, or give a shot to a type of food you wouldn’t ordinarily try. And every time I come to an event like this I am blown away by how exciting street food can be. They are all my favorites!

Ten Questions with Comedy, Food, Sports Host Patrick Dodd


Patrick Dodd- Host of Comedy, Food, Sports

Patrick Dodd- Host of Comedy, Food, Sports

Patrick Dodd is a man with three passions in life: Comedy, Food & Sports. Luckily, he is also hilariously funny, so he balled all that up into a great late nite live show called, suprisingly, “Comedy, Food, Sports“. Patrick brings in local and national comics, food celebrities and sports know-it-alls to talk about the holy trinity of awesome.

Patrick was nice enough to do our very first “10 Questions with…” segment! Please go see his show this Friday Night, March 29th at The Twisted Tail (2nd & South, Phila. PA). The guests are James Hesky (host of the new “The Monthly Hour with James Hesky” at the Philadelphia Improv Theatre) and 97.5FM The Fanatic Radio Host Jason Ashworth.

Food, Sports & Comedy are the three things that more or less run my life. How did you decide to combine those three things into a show instead of, say, just doing standup and talking about food and sports?

It’s my three favorite things in the world.  I’m a sports nut and I’m an above average cook and I’ve been doing stand up for about 5 years.  In the past couple of years I got married and we had a kid about 9 months ago, so I can’t really hit the open mics and work out new material.  I knew I still wanted to utilize my creative side, so I threw some ideas around and thought why don’t I just blog about these three topics.  I wrote a couple reviews and op-ed type pieces and I realized I should be interviewing the pros in these three arenas.  I reached out to Jim Florentine (I featured for him a few times down in Atlanta so we had somewhat of a relationship) and he turned out to be the perfect person to use as sort of template as to how these interviews should go.
The blog really took off and I knew I wasn’t taking full advantage of the potential here.  What is now our production team (The two hosts of the NQAPodcast) and I started talking about the idea of a live version of the blog.  It started with the concept of just a live podcast and it eventually developed into “Conan O’Brien-esque” talk show.  There is still plenty of tweaking to be done, but the concept is rock solid and we’re really happy with it.

We here at DidjaEat? want to punch people when they use the term “Foodie”. How do you feel about the evolution of that stupid term and the explosion of people being interested in cooking, eating and culinary stuff in general?

I HATE terms like that!  Everyone in the US that can afford to be a foodie; is a foodie.  You know where there aren’t any foodies?  Sudan!  Terms like that enrage me.  There is just this combination of narcissism and abusing of food combinations that has taken over the culinary world and it’s pretty annoying.  Every place is now a “gastropub” and serves up some sort of over the top “pork belly and banana burger with chocolate bacon and a fig and absinthe reduction” that they over charge for, but every trendy “foodie” goes there for brunch and writes some shitty blog about it (of course DidjaEat is not one of those blogs!).

Also, I hate when people use the term “well it takes an educated palate to enjoy that.”  So you have to teach your mouth and taste buds to like something that it naturally doesn’t?
That felt pretty liberating…great question!

Your hometown is Rochester. Are there any regional foods that you miss (isn’t Genesee Cream Ale from Rochester?) that you just can’t get here (or if you did, they just destroy it, like getting a cheesesteak outside of the Philly area)?
The “garbage plate.”  It started at a place called Nick Tahou’s in Rochester, but now lots of places in the greater Rochester area make their own version of it.  It’s amazing drunk and/or hangover food.  The “classic” and probably most popular one is the cheeseburger place.  Half the plate has home fries and the other half has a pretty bland macaroni salad.  On top of that are two cheeseburger patties with no buns.  The toppings are onions, mustard and what people from Rochester call “hot sauce”, which is actually like a spicy, fatty, greasy meat gravy of sorts.  You cover the thing in ketchup and cut up the patties and start heaving it into your drunk or hung-over mouth and the comfort and flavor is unexplainable.  Instead of patties, you can get hot dogs, sausage, eggs, fried fish, veggie burgers, and a ton of other stuff.

The previous chef at the Ugly American was originally from Rochester and he made a garbage plate that they still have on their menu.  It’s kind of deconstructed, almost “sober” version that is good, but much different that the Rochester version.  It’s very tasty, but much smaller and it’s missing some crucial elements.  It’s more of a gastropub version of it for lack of a better term.

As a comic, do you feel like traveling comics have the most interesting (good and bad) food stories? The horror stories are aways the most interesting. What are some you have experienced or heard?
Surprisingly, the stories have been pretty tame.  I’ve been lucky enough to interview mostly A-list comedians and they kind of have somewhat sophisticated tastes.  Bobby Kelly had a great story about waking up from a Chick-fil-A coma.  He was eating healthy 6 out of 7 days every week, but he splurged hard on the unhealthy day.  He actually shot a video of himself, at a Chick-fil-A drive-in, buying three chicken sandwiches, a twelve piece chicken nugget, an Oreo shake and a large fry.  He passed out after he finished everything off and had some crazy dream about shitting in a garbage can at a family picnic and trying to get his maid to blow him.  Needless to say, he’s one of my favorite comedians to talk too.
Sports are always linked to food. While we would stab our mother for a Schmitter at Citizen’s Bank Park (sorry, Mom), are there any particular foods, tailgate or at the park, that you connect to memories of being a kid or with friends at the stadium or ballpark?
I’m more of just a beer drinker at games, but I usually do something somewhat traditional like a hot dog or sausage at the games.   It kind of depends on what city I’m in.   Fenway and Wrigley have ridiculous sausage rolls.  Yankee Stadium food pretty much sucks.  Hockey and basketball games are pretty much the same everywhere…very blah.  The Union actually have some decent stuff that’s pretty reasonably priced.  I think the overall experience there (specifically the Sons of Ben section) is very under the radar and underrated, but that’s a bit off topic I guess.

As a kid, I always remember getting ice cream right around the 7th inning stretch.  They would put it in the little batting helmet and that was always my favorite part of the game.   I don’t do that now, but I remember almost counting the outs and potential batters to figure out how long it will take until it’s ice cream time.  It was usually the Triple-AAA Baltimore affiliate that we would go see in Rochester, so if they weren’t playing the Pawtucket Red Sox, I didn’t really give a shit if they won or not really.

Are you a fan of the tailgate? If so, what sport and what is a favorite thing to eat while there, bought or cooked. If not, how about just while hanging out at home or at a bar to watch a game?

When I interviewed Rory Scovel, he said he wishes he could just tailgate all the time.  Even if you’re just grilling and drinking beers behind a car in their driveway with no game associated with it.  I always thought that was a hilarious take on it, because tailgating is the best.  Everyone is drinking and eating and trying to one up each other by having the most over the top set up.  I lived in Atlanta for a couple of years and I had season tickets to their games, because anyone can get season tickets basically anywhere they want there.  Anyway, the tailgating was out of control.  People would have huge tents, with DJ’s, competition size smokers, huge RV’s decked out with Falcons logos, and the food was unreal!  Every type of pork imaginable and legitimately some of the best BBQ in the country.  Even though Atlanta fans are pretty fair weather and most people down there aren’t even from Atlanta; it’s kind of a must see.  When the Eagles came down a couple of years ago (Vick’s first time back to Atlanta), you would’ve thought you were at an outdoor concert and BBQ competition.  It’s hard to even explain to be honest.

At a bar, I’m a major sucker for good nachos.  Unfortunately, bars fuck this up all the time.  First off, lettuce has no business being in nachos! I can’t stress that enough.  I would need a full page to explain the rest of my problems I have with most how most bars in the city, and all cities for that matter, serve nachos.  McGillin’s Olde Pub probably makes the best overall nachos I’ve ever had.  I can’t say enough good things about their nachos or the place itself.  Definitely a great spot to watch the game!
When I’m at home watching a game, I try to make everything from scratch.  So I’ll usually make a pizza or two with some nachos or wings or something of that sort, but I try to make sure to create everything from scratch. During the NFL season, I usually make something that’s kind of an all day event.  I’ll make my meat gravy or chili or something like and just let it simmer till midway through the first games.  Meatball sandwiches or just meatballs in sauce are definitely in my top 3 game time at home foods.

Do the comics you have on lean more towards food or sports in their interests?

I’ve somewhat handpicked the comedians I interviewed that I know are into sports and potentially pretty knowledgeable about food, so it’s not super easy to answer that accurately.  Florentine knows tons about sports and not much at all about food, while Nick DiPaolo knows a lot about both and then Dan Levy, literally, knows nothing about sports and is really into crazy types of unique foods.
If I had to guess, comics generally are probably more into food.  It seems like a lot of comics grew up a little bit more on the nerdy side and that’s a big reason why they are so funny and successful, but their sports knowledge is usually pretty below average.  Philly and Boston are probably excluded from that list, because of how into their local teams they are.

You have a little kid under the age of 3, and it is notoriously hard for parents of young kids to eat out. What kind of food do you and the Mrs. go for when you have some time to yourselves?
There are a handful of places we love, depending on how much time we have. Taqueria La Veracruzana is definitely our quick fix for amazing and affordable Mexican food.  That place is an absolute must for people that prefer their tacos not to be wrapped in a nacho Dorito’s shell.  The Royal Tavern is a place that we probably wish we went to more often, but is definitely high up on the list of places that we love.  Kennett So. 2nd is right next door to our place and they really serve up some great stuff and they have a great craft beer selection.  Dimitri’s is our go-to seafood spot if that’s what we’re shooting for.  Outside of our neighborhood, we love Lee How Fook in Chinatown.  That place has never steered us wrong.

You are a member of Red Sox Nation. What foods would you cast as Bill Buckner and Roger Clemens (pre-jerkoff steroid Clemens).

I hate to be “that guy”, but Buckner was a total scapegoat.  There were so many poor coaching decisions that put them in that awful situation.  That being said, I’ve give him some sort of acai berry, blueberry, super fruit smoothie so he can wake up his brain to have some hand-eye coordination to make a play on a simple grounder that my fucking 9 month old son could’ve made.
For Clemens, I would give him some steroid infused pulled pork.  He’s a redneck, so he loves his BBQ and he supposedly started doing roids after he left the Sox.  I think the issue was that no one in Boston was giving him his juice.  He won back to back Cy Youngs after he started pumping needles in his ass cheeks.  The Sox should’ve been feeding him roids from day one!

What is your favorite thing to cook at home and the thing you loathe the most to cook at home?

I love making anything from scratch.  I think it’s just a pretty cool feeling when you create something delicious that came from completely unprocessed, raw items.
I’m really started to love the “low and slow” techniques.  Something like braised short ribs that just cook all day in just a cornucopia of tasty juices.  A lot can be said about how much flavor and texture can be almost perfected with that “low and slow” method.  The comfort level is through the roof if it’s done properly!
I really don’t loathe cooking anything.  I hate working with processed items, but that’s pretty easily avoidable.  I’m not big fan of baking mostly because every measurement has to be so precise.  There isn’t much that you can play around with outside of adding a flavor here and there.  I really don’t measure anything, so it’s tough for me to follow a recipe completely but you pretty much have to with baking.

Thanks again to Patrick for being our guinea pig for “Ten Questions with..” and check out his monthly show!

Flyer for the March 29th Comedy, Food, Sports

Flyer for the March 29th Comedy, Food, Sports

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