The 5 Best Podcast Episodes of 2021—So Far

Tuning into a podcast while I prepped in the kitchen used to feel like a little luxury. These days, it's more of a necessity.

April  7, 2021
Photo by Rocky Luten

Cranking up a podcast and settling into the rhythm of ingredient prep in my kitchen used to feel like a little luxury. These days, it feels more like a necessity.

Food and cooking podcasts infuse my kitchen with things that have felt rather hard to come by in the last year: inspiration, creativity, humor (oh, and human voices besides mine and my husband’s). Here are few standout episodes from 2021 so far.

1. Counterjam: Getting Jjigae with Roy Choi, Margaret Cho & Peter’s Mom

In this episode, host Peter J. Kim talks to comedian Margaret Cho and chef Roy Choi about Korean-American identity, growing up surrounded by the aromas of kimchi, and moms storing deer blood in the Skippy jar. Scored by music from Korean-American artists (including a track from Kim himself!), the conversation seamlessly transitions from dealing with racism in the office kitchen to ranking and doctoring instant ramyun, and somehow also includes the phrase “cockblocked by a stinky soup”—and that’s kind of the beauty of Counterjam.

2. Salt + Spine: Mashama Bailey + John O. Morisano // Black, White, and The Grey

Brian Hogan Stewart’s conversation with Mashama Bailey and John O. Morisano is honest, unvarnished, and deeply personal, as the duo talk candidly about the tensions and hesitations they encountered while collaborating on their new hybrid memoir-cookbook, Black, White, and the Grey. What unfolds is the story not just of the book, or even of The Grey, but about the evolution and constant push-pull of a partnership and friendship.

3. Play Me a Recipe: Meiko Temple Makes Southern Potato Salad

While chopping potatoes for her sister’s Southern Potato Salad recipe, Meiko Temple shares memories of her grandmother in the kitchen; adds some historical context for the importance of potato salad in Black American foodways; and even dares to wade into the Great Mayo Debate. (She’s Team Miracle Whip, and yes, she’ll tell you exactly why it’s superior to Duke’s.)

4. The Genius Recipe Tapes: Fried Egg Salad to Convert the Haters

Egg salad is one of my favorite work-from-home lunches, but only when I’m feeling up to dealing with the rigamarole of boiling and peeling the eggs. (So, when I’m procrastinating.) True to form, genius food-tinkerers Aki Kamozawa and Alex Talbot of Ideas in Food have changed the game for the humble egg salad, using just their brilliant brains and a pair of scissors—no ice bath or fussy peeling necessary.

5. Keep Calm and Cook On: Dr. Jessica B. Harris + Klancy Miller

Dr. Jessica B. Harris is a crucial voice of African foodways and its history — and, as of this year, also a cover star. In this episode, Julia Turshen chats over Zoom with Dr. Harris and Klancy Miller, founder of For the Culture magazine, which featured Harris on its inaugural cover. What follows is a thought-provoking and frank discussion about the challenges (and privileges) of financing passion projects, redefining what legacy means to them, and a shared love of French culture, among other things. (Side note: Dr. Harris also casually drops that she has a library of over ten thousand books!)

What have been the best podcast episodes you've heard this year? Share them in the comments!
Listen Now

Join The Sandwich Universe co-hosts (and longtime BFFs) Molly Baz and Declan Bond as they dive deep into beloved, iconic sandwiches.

Listen Now

See what other Food52 readers are saying.


Written by: grayhchapman