Restaurant hopping and indoor dining are activities sidelined to wishful thinking recently, but Hulu’s latest TV show, Eater’s Guide to the World, takes its viewers back to an era of indoor dining before the COVID-19 pandemic. Each episode of the show centers on a different topic with episode titles ranging from “The Ass Crack of Dawn in New York City” to “Planting Roots in Tijuana Mexico.” Maya Rudolph narrates voice-over clips of food, restaurants, and life in different cities, but the only people shown onscreen are the actual subjects of the episodes themselves. With this decision, Eater’s Guide trades in the flashy style of other food shows, like Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, for a more individualistic and unique approach.
Taste and smell are nearly impossible to convey through video, but Eater’s Guide comes close to captivating these senses. The show excels at showcasing food through quick cuts between clips and carefully chosen short and long shots. Each shot is framed optimally in order to accentuate a dish’s beauty. That being said, Eater’s Guide isn’t heavy-handed on its stylistic edits. Most of the time, the show lets its interviews and footage speak for itself. The editing, and even Rudolph’s food puns, are simply there to usher the episodes along to the next captivating spotlight.
Alongside the amazing cuisine, Eater’s Guide delves into the interesting lives of chefs, produce suppliers, and even delivery truck drivers. Wulf, for example, is a “corn preservationist” in the Valle de Guadalupe who wants to “restore the valley to its former glory.” Miz Cracker is a drag queen in New York who loves eating at Hell’s Kitchen after performing a full night of shows in Manhattan. And Eric is the chef and owner of Addo, a restaurant in Seattle specializing in solo dining. Eater’s Guide exhibits an open-minded, progressive approach to dining. In this way, the show creates a melting pot of talents, highlighting food’s ability to transcend cultural differences.
Eater’s Guide also touches on integral issues wrapped up in the food industry, such as preserving forests and supporting local businesses—the latter of which is an ever-crucial effort in 2020. The show ignores societal expectations about dining and showcases what it wants, often approaching subjects and cities from new perspectives. When it covers New York in episode three, Eater’s Guide focuses on Koreatown and drag queens rather than the typical New York slice of pizza. The very first episode is all about eating alone, a stigma many likely develop in college that carries on into American adult life. By focusing on the aspects of dining no one really thinks about, Eater’s Guide achieves true originality.
Perhaps because the show encompasses such a variety of new ideas, Eater’s Guide is actually quite comforting. The show is all about the different jobs people take on and how their lives have turned out for the better precisely because they did not go as planned. Whether an episode focuses on a bread maker who used to work in advertising or a bento box expert whose parents wanted him to become a doctor, Eater’s Guide reminds us to take a break from the anxiety and stress inextricably tied to the future. Somehow, things work out—usually with the help of some good food and warm people. This reminder is facilitated by the show’s willingness to show human moments. Not every interview is perfect. The people in the spotlight are not infallible geniuses but rather endearing, imperfect cooks excelling in an industry they love.
Eater’s Guide gives viewers an up-close and personal look at some of the coolest individuals in cooking and dining. The show achieves the perfect balance of stylistic editing and raw footage. Whether you live to eat or eat to live, Eater’s Guide has something to teach every viewer about food at home and around the world.
Photo Courtesy of Hulu