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  • Writer's picturePodcast Librarian

Citizen Chef: The food podcast about social issues

The Premise (from Apple Podcasts):

Tom Colicchio has issues with food! Citizen Chef is about what we eat, where and who it comes from, and the politics, decisions, policies and people that shape our food system – with the goal of turning curious listeners into more informed, engaged citizens. Restaurateur, activist and Top Chef head judge Tom Colicchio delves into policy, labor, hunger, democracy, sustainability, farming, health, social justice, technology and the restaurant business. Of particular concern is a post-coronavirus and covid-19 world. Each episode Tom takes a deep dive into an issue by interviewing experts, journalists, food producers or others to tell an engaging and topical story about an aspect of our food system that the general public may not know, connecting the dots about how our food system really works, really doesn’t, and outlining its impact on our society – all while remaining positive and presenting attainable solutions to some of the biggest food issues out there.

Series or standalone:


Begin listening to:

Any episode




Tom Collichio of Top Chef

Sound/production quality:


Rating/age suitability:

Adult (appeal-wise) but generally fine for tweens/teens (content-wise)

Approximate length of episodes:

20-40 minutes

Curricular ties:

The topic is a little specific, but you might be able to incorporate this into conversations about human rights and the environment.

Similar recommended pods:


Podcast Librarian’s Review:

As you may already know, I am a huge Bravo buff. It’s my absolute favorite way to decompress after a work day, and some of my podcast consumption is Bravo-related, too. Anyway, I’ve been watching Top Chef for a few years now and have grown to like judge Tom Colicchio, so when I saw he was starting a podcast, I wanted to check it out. This podcast is so much better than I anticipated—I was truly surprised. Rather than being just about food, Tom ties social justice issues into the food/farming industry and reveals stories about the dangerous and seedy backstory of the fishing industry, the quality of school lunches, small food suppliers’ struggles during COVID, and much more. This is so much more than just another celeb podcast. Understated in style and with minimal production flair, the episodes are a blend of Tom’s narrative and interviews with experts. They’re nothing fancy, but the audio is very good--and I learn something new in every episode. You can tell Tom is passionate about this premise and the topics; he’s not just doing this because it’s trendy for celebs to have a podcast right now. Regardless of whether you’re a Top Chef fan or even know who Tom is, this is worth a listen if you care about social issues or food sustainability.

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