Well, folks, it’s been a great run. Today we’re wrapping everything up and giving you the season finale of our Burnt Toast podcast. We laughed, we cried, we most definitely talked about food.
Just in time for this installment, I reached out to Michael Harlan Turkell, the podcast’s intrepid host. We talked about the season and some of his favorite moments. As for the finale’s theme? I’ll let him tell you that himself. Or, listen here.
The following conversation was edited for length and clarity.
Valerio Farris: What's the theme of the season's final episode?
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Michael Harlan Turkell: It's the eponymous "burnt toast" show! It's all about toast, toasters, toasting... Call it the inception episode, if you will.
VF: What was your inspiration behind that choice?
MHT: We thought it would be fun, and introspective, to be a bit self-referential. Rather than a "making of" special, I think it gives a behind-the-scenes look at how an episode is constructed. There's a character arc that starts with a tidbit from Amanda herself, we talk to Merrill's dad as he opines on what makes a quality toaster, and we look into the history of "why" with a bit of levity.
VF: Who else do you talk to in this episode?
MHT: A toaster historian. The people behind the Breville brand of toasters, which I think are some of the best appliances on the market right now. Chef Ruth Rogers of River Cafe in London, and cookbook author Jennifer McLagan, who both offer insights on how to best "burn" toast intentionally, and make wonderful recipes out of it. My personal favorite is Andy Reichert, of Trenary Home Bakery in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I'm smitten with their crunchy cinnamon toasts, based off of Finnish korpu toast dunking tradition.
VF: What were your top three must-go-back-and-listen moments from the season?
MHT: My co-producer Jordan Werner's field reporting in Vermont, for the "Tapping Into the World of Maple" episode, has the best sound effects (crunching snow, holes being drilled into trees for maple taps). I also loved hearing about how maple sap is imbibed in South Korea, and rarely made into syrup!
Imperfect Produce, an apropos-named company in our "Jolie Laide" (Ugly Beautiful) episode, convinced me why we should go flavor over facade. It's wild to hear how much produce never makes it to shelves just because of how it looks!
I love the willingness of people to wait in line for must-try foods in our episode "The Longest Wait." It's given me much more perspective regarding food in general—and patience!