The Four Top

The Four Top

www.opb.org/artsandlife/article/the-four-top-podcast
Savor the conversation. Every other Monday, a roundtable of culinary media insiders discuss today’s hot-button topics in #food and #beverage culture. Hosted by Katherine Cole in partnership with OPB.


77: Eating On The Edge
Jun 1 • 49 min
What explains the high infection rate of COVID-19 among food-processing workers? Do Americans have a new understanding of food insecurity? And what is “corona-conscious eating”? Elle Simone Scott, Dr. Don Schaffner and Sophie Egan fill us in.
76: Meet the New Wave of Culinary E-Entrepreneurs
May 4 • 38 min
Who are the new culinary entrepreneurs of the COVID-19 quarantine? The innovators who are bringing foods from farms to doorsteps, sending exotic ingredients across the country, and connecting families through cooking. Our guests are Julia Niiro, Ted…
75: Diet Lies
Apr 6 • 51 min
Everything we thought we knew about nutrition was wrong. According to journalist Nina Teicholz, Dr. Miles Hassell, and salumist Elias Cairo, a salami a day might just keep the doctor away.
74: Coronavirus Hits The Food Industry
Mar 22 • 23 min
In this special episode, Carrie Welch, Vitaly Paley, and Heather Kintler discuss the profound impact that COVID-19 has had on their businesses.
73: The Future Of Food Is The Past
Mar 2 • 34 min
Is foraging the new farming? How will Gen Z change the food industry? And how will a cutting-edge grocery chain change the health industry? Panelists Rowan Jacobsen, Jen Bryman and Fernando Divina discuss.
72: Special Episode - Assemblage Symposium
Feb 18 • 41 min
Meet women who are changing the wine industry, at the Assemblage Symposium, recorded live.
71: Bonus Episode - Interview with Nancy Rommelmann
Feb 5 • 21 min
A prominent journalist discusses free speech and food culture.
70: What Is Nattō?
Jan 24 • 13 min
Have you tried the Japanese breakfast food that’s as sticky as chewing gum and “smells like stinky feet”? Meet nattō.
69: Japanese Cuisine Today
Jan 7 • 48 min
What do Americans get wrong about Japanese flavors? Is it difficult for females to make it as professional Japanese chefs? And is Japanese cuisine bolstered by deep philosophical underpinnings?
68: Bonus Episode | Interview with Farideh Sadeghin
Dec 16, 2019 • 18 min
A master cook-turned munchie maker spills on what it’s like behind the camera at Vice Media.
67: Special Episode | Ed Levine | J. Kenji López-Alt
Dec 2, 2019 • 40 min
In this special episode, Ed Levine, founder of Serious Eats and author of the new book Serious Eater, joins James Beard Award–winning author J. Kenji López-Alt at Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon.
66: Lynne Curry | Camas Davis | John Schiable
Nov 5, 2019 • 48 min
What is it like to slaughter an animal? Could grass-fed meat be part of a sustainable “vegetarian” diet? And what’s the “mature beef” movement?
65: Courtney Taylor-Taylor | Jay Boberg | Sheri Hood
Oct 7, 2019 • 52 min
In what ways are music and wine closely related? Why are a rock star and a couple of former record execs in the wine industry? And why do creators launch “vanity labels,” whether in music or wine?
64: Sarah Masoni | Ivy Manning | Megan Scott
Sep 3, 2019 • 43 min
What’s up with the new wave of faux junk food made from nutritious ingredients? Are you surprised by the latest savory flavor sensations? And are snacks poised to displace meals?
63 Penelope Bass | Michael Alberty | Jordan Michelman
Aug 5, 2019 • 54 min
Meet the secret worldwide society of seltzer aficionados. Next, the “sober-curious” trend is spawning a new generation of high-end mixologists. And finally, canned beverages are here to stay.
62: Erin DeJesus | Juan Diego Ramirez | Heather Arndt Anderson
Jul 1, 2019 • 46 min
What does the term “American Food” mean today? How should we reframe our conversations about Mexican, and Mexican-American, cuisines? And is the American family dinner imperiled?
61: Reva Barewal | Alexis Hillyard | Drew Prindle
Jun 10, 2019 • 49 min
What are the emotional repercussions for those who lose the ability to eat and feed themselves? How has a one-handed cook used YouTube to build an international community? And how are modern innovations redefining cooking for people with less mobility?
60: Maggie Hoffman | Lee Hedgmon | Cheryl Wakerhauser
May 6, 2019 • 41 min
In Ep. 60, we sit down with women leading the charge in the beverage industry. First, meet the efficient, crowd-pleasing batch cocktail, the contemporary craft take on the punches of yesteryear. Next, how much hard work does it take to build community…
59 Claudia Lucero | Juno DeMelo | Kyra Bussanich
Apr 1, 2019 • 52 min
We’re going free in Ep. 59. First: Forget those rubbery dairy-free cheeses from the grocery store and meet the new flavorful artisan alternatives. Next, how compelling is the case against sugar cane, and which of the dizzying array of alternatives is b…
58: Drew Prindle | Liz Crain | Michael Zusman
Mar 4, 2019 • 44 min
In our “feast for the senses” episode, we explore how sensory stimulation affects our food and beverage experiences. First, the music you hear in restaurants and grocery stores has changed significantly over the past decade. Next, as recreational marij…
57: Ben Jacobsen | Kristofor Lofgren
Feb 4, 2019 • 46 min
Pescetarianism is the world’s fastest-growing diet. Can the planet’s oceans handle this shift? And should we be concerned about where our salt is sourced from? Finally, let’s get to know sake, the misunderstood Japanese rice wine.
56: Cynthia Nims | Kerry Newberry | Diane Morgan
Jan 7, 2019 • 52 min
What’s the big deal about Olympia Oysters? And what will the future look like when fish are no longer harvested from the wild? Finally, practitioners of one of the world’s most dangerous careers — crabbing — are fighting Big Oil to save their jobs and the…
55: Miles Hassell | Mea Hassell | Sarah Bowen Shea
Dec 3, 2018 • 40 min
While doctors deem the veggie-heavy, whole-grain Mediterranean diet as a long-term lifesavers, athletes still carbo load on refined grains. How can these two philosophies coexist? And should we be suspicious of grab-and-go protein bars? Finally, it mig…
54: Ivy Manning | Virginia Gewin | Tove Danovich
Nov 5, 2018 • 49 min
Behold the beet. What makes this curious root vegetable so unique? Will science end the practice of planting crops annually? And how does the U.S.’s every-growing American agriculture industry impact the rest of the world? Listen to Episode 54 from Nov.…
53: Ashley Rodriguez | Brent Braun | Zach Geballe | Chad Murphy
Oct 1, 2018 • 46 min
In our second anniversary episode, we’re connecting the dots between food, drink, and human interactions. What is it like to become a food celebrity? How can we utilize food to keep our relationships healthy? And how can we lean on food and drink to ma…
52: Fernando Divina | Jill Lightner | Amanda Oborne
Sep 17, 2018 • 44 min
A new grocery store concept aims to educate communities about health and increase access to affordable, high quality food—will it succeed? What are the best food waste hacks for whittling down our grocery bills while eating healthfully? And could “Rege…
51: Rebecca Hopkins | Cathy Huyghe | Hannah Wallace
Sep 4, 2018 • 46 min
Could a career in the food or beverage industry be harmful for workers’ mental health? How do wine professionals stay healthy in a fairly unhealthy line of work? And why is a bar one of the most stressful places to work?
50: Dana Frank | Jordan Michelman | Andrea Slonecker
Aug 20, 2018 • 55 min
So-called “natural wine bars” are all the rage right now. Why? And what are the new, surprising wine-food pairing rules? Finally, who knew that eggs are sometime used to make wine?
49: Sarah Marshall | Sara Bir | Heather Arndt Anderson
Aug 6, 2018 • 46 min
At the height of summer, we discuss the surprising produce (and spices) all around us that will get us through the zombie apocalypse, the science (and potential risks) behind canning all that good summer bounty, and finally, the history of “putting up,…
48: Michelle Smith | Kelly Montoya | Julie O’Toole
Jul 23, 2018 • 53 min
Learn about selective eating and food phobias, two lesser-known eating disorders afflicting children. Next, discover Little Sous, a new concept for turning kids into confident cooks. And finally, a cookbook author and food blogger fills us in on raisin…
47: Drew Prindle | Chase McPeak | Sam Slaughter
Jul 9, 2018 • 47 min
As robots become more of a reality in our everyday lives, how are they altering the agribusiness? Next, our discussion dives deeper, unpacking the inevitable friction between food and technology. And finally, we shift the tech talk to the beverage indu…
46: Steven Raichlen | Marnie Hanel | Jen Stevenson
Jun 25, 2018 • 35 min
A simple fire might be the most primal cooking method, but there are still innovative ways to barbecue, according to our trio of experts. Next, jerky is suddenly ubiquitous and overpriced, but it turns out it’s easy to make at home—even from fish. And …
45: Dr. Greg Jones | Hannah Wallace | Jordan Michelman
Jun 11, 2018 • 45 min
Will the wine industry be a victim of climate change? Next, how have the increasingly devastating wildfires that have hit vineyards recently affected the wines? And finally, we lighten the mood by asking why rosé must be limited to summer.
44: Karen Karbo | Katie Pratt | Alex Prud’homme
May 15, 2018 • 55 min
What made the love story of Julia and Paul Child so unique? Next, what would photographer Paul Child think of today’s Instagram-food-photo craze? And finally, we discuss how we can all live life to the fullest à la the Childs.
43: Jim Meehan | Jeffrey Morgenthaler | Jacob Grier
Apr 30, 2018 • 46 min
Do you act cordially at bars? Today’s high-end temples to mixology aren’t places for crude behavior, say our three cocktail craftsmen. Next, how are the best bars in the world designed for efficient flow and optimum pleasure? And finally, why are bars …
42: Cheryl Wakerhauser | Danielle Centoni | Kyra Bussanich
Apr 16, 2018 • 46 min
Modern French pastry is a spellbinding art form, combining eye-popping colors with surprising textures, shapes and flavors. We discuss this exciting movement with a pro. Next, boutiques selling nothing but macarons are the latest trend in sweet treats….
41: Ashley Duchemin | Emilly Prado | Juan Ramirez
Apr 2, 2018 • 48 min
Can culinary podcasts change the way society sees food? We think so, and so does Juan Ramirez, producer of the excellent “Racist Sandwich” podcast. Next, we discuss the ways in which different cultures discuss body image.
40: Beth Federici | Ivy Manning | Kathleen Squires
Mar 19, 2018 • 47 min
First, a chef and a food writer give us the lowdown on truffles during this special episode recorded at the Oregon Truffle Festival. Next, we gab about other fab fancy food fests all over the globe. Our third course is a survey of our favorite foodie f…
39: Nick Fauchald | Martha Holmberg | Christina Henry de Tessan
Feb 26, 2018 • 53 min
Food magazines are shutting down at an unprecedented rate, but could there be new opportunities in this sector? Next, cookbooks are moving in a more classic, less celebrity-driven direction. And finally, we discuss ultra high-end, self-published culina…
38: Mary Paganelli | Virginia Gewin | Heather Arndt Anderson
Feb 12, 2018 • 49 min
Cuisines from all over the world are readily available in every major U.S. city. So why aren’t the traditional foods of the First Americans? Despite centuries of systematic cultural suppression, American Indian chefs and historians are rediscovering an…
37: Connie Blumhardt | Kenneth Olson | Jordan Michelman
Jan 29, 2018 • 53 min
Episode 37 is all about coffee. First, our experts teach us to ride the “Third Wave” movement. Next, what’s a microroaster? How about a nanoroaster? And finally, we taste and talk about Guinness Stout’s caffeinated counterpart. Episode 37 of The Four Top…
36: Molly Wizenberg | Paul Clarke | Matthew Amster-Burton
Jan 16, 2018 • 44 min
Episode 36, recorded live at PodCon in Seattle, is a freewheeling look at beverage trends for 2018. We kick things off by reminiscing about the faddish beverages of decades past that are ready to for revivals this year. Next, we predict the drinks that…
35: Bonnie Frumkin Morales | Deena Prichep | Michael Zusman
Jan 1, 2018 • 40 min
Episode 35 goes live on January 1, 2018, so we will kick off this three-course show by learning about the surprising ways in which the New Year is celebrated in Russia. Next, we’ll review the world’s best hangover foods. And finally, tongue is a classi…
34: Bronwen Percival | Francis Percival | Christian Debenedetti
Dec 18, 2017 • 51 min
“Raw” cheeses are demonized… but could they be less harmful for you than raw fruits and vegetables? How are home brewers leading the backyard biologist movement? And those who work in artisanal food industries are asking themselves: Is the conversa…
33: Jami Curl | Michelle Lopez | Kyra Bussanich
Dec 4, 2017 • 50 min
How did our guests build businesses selling candy, cupcakes and chronicles to adults? Next, what’s the magic formula for making a visual splash with a food startup? And finally, there’s a sense of tension in the American food scene, with raw veggies an…
32: Jeff Alworth | Erin James | Jeff Smith
Nov 20, 2017 • 46 min
Why is cider the fastest-growing segment in the American drinks industry? Next, what’s the deal with professional beverage tasting? And finally, craft beverage producers are constantly being solicited for donations.
31: Christopher Kimball | Matthew Card | Carrie Welch
Nov 6, 2017 • 50 min
With food media increasingly fragmented, why are some brands staging live IRL events? Next, do you sous vide at home? And finally, what are food entertainment personalities really like when the cameras turn off? We discuss on Episode 31 of The Four Top,…
30: Hannah Wallace | Andy Kryza | Jeff Alworth
Oct 23, 2017 • 40 min
Did you know that the hospitality industry is the profession with the highest rate of substance abuse? What’s the deal with the new crop of beer spritzes, with names like Radler and Shandy? And finally, how did a brewery open in Flint, Michigan, during…
29: Diners Gone Wild | Food Cart Backlash | Marijuana on Menus?
Oct 9, 2017 • 31 min
How rude can restaurant patrons be? Very. Next, food cart vendors and restaurateurs are battling. What role should city legislators play in this war? And marijuana can’t be served in dining establishments—yet—so how are chefs working around the laws to…
28: Andrew Knowlton | Khushbu Shah | Hillary Dixler Canavan
Sep 25, 2017 • 47 min
What are the implications of a food journalist deeming a so-called “ethnic” cuisine a “trend”? What accounts for Portland’s attraction to food tourists and tastemakers? And why is the restaurant industry such an unwelcoming world for women?
27: CRISPR Over GMOs? | Endangered Foods | Banking Seeds in Vaults
Sep 11, 2017 • 44 min
Could a new gene-editing process called CRISPR win over the NO GMOs contingent? And which of the foods we eat every day may become extinct during our lifetimes? Finally, we crack open the confusion regarding the Global Seed Vault and its sibling seed b…
26: When Critics Go Viral | Food Journalism 2.0 | Reservations Re: No Reservations
Aug 28, 2017 • 40 min
When you get three food writers and critics in a room together, you get Episode 26 of “The Four Top,” in which our panelists unpack the dining reviews that explode on social media, the new state of food journalism, and why some restaurants don’t take…
25: Pregnancy Food Warnings | The State of Fake Meat | Dirt on Clean Eating
Aug 14, 2017 • 46 min
Episode 25 overturns mainstream thinking on nutrition. Should pregnant women really stay away from verboten foods? What’s up with the surprising new forms of faux meat? And what’s the dirty truth about ‘Clean Eating’? Our panelists pick these questions…
24: Figurative Salads | Cookbooks as Literature | The Ideal Kitchen
Jul 31, 2017 • 51 min
In Episode 24, we overturn our assumptions about everyday things. What do you picture when you hear the word “salad”? What is a cookbook for? And what does the ideal kitchen look like? Hear our panelists’ surprising answers to these questions, and more.
23: Au Courant Canned Beverages | Nudist Natural Wine | Nutrition Info on Booze?
Jul 17, 2017 • 50 min
Have you noticed all the new craft beers and wines being sold in aluminum cans? We discuss this trend and taste a couple of examples. Next, the author of “Naked Wine” gives us the lowdown on the Natural Wine movement, and we explore its counterparts in…
22: Kombucha Madness | Unraveling The Mystery Of Q | Get Your Politics Out Of My Food
Jul 4, 2017 • 43 min
How can we explain the kombucha craze, and why are some people going to prison for selling it? What’s the mysterious Taiwanese concept known simply as ‘Q’? And get your politics out of my food, will you?
21: Cannabis in the Kitchen | Will Marijuana Wreck Restaurants? | Truthiness in Labeling
Jun 19, 2017 • 47 min
With more and more states legalizing it, foodies are putting pot in their pots. But according to “the Martha Stewart of Marijuana,” cooking with cannabis is not as easy as it looks. Next, does the growth of the ganja industry threaten restaurants and b…
20: The Evolution Of Grocery Stores | Does Cured Meat Kill? | Serious TV Chef
Jun 5, 2017 • 49 min
From corner store to Costco, the grocery has changed over time. What’s the future of food retail, and how do today’s supermarkets deceive their customers? Next, the World Health Organization has warned us not to eat processed meat. Does that mean we have…
19: 6 Seasons | Why Salmon Matters | James Beard On Film
May 22, 2017 • 36 min
We kick off Episode 19 with a discussion of the … six seasons of the food year. And you thought there were only four, didn’t you? Next, why is salmon the most important fish to travel from ocean to plate? And finally, a new film on food provocateur James…
18: Sanctuary Restaurants | Undocumented Labor In Food | Peruvian Cuisine
May 8, 2017 • 48 min
First, there were sanctuary cities. Now there are sanctuary restaurants. This fast-growing movement launched in January and is already making an impact. How can restaurants protect marginalized people? Our panelists discuss.
17: Ab-Fab Lady Food Bloggers | The Language Of Flavor | Online Wine Clubs
Apr 24, 2017 • 51 min
If you’re addicted to sites like Goop and The Pioneer Woman, you know how addictive it can be to follow the impossibly perfect lives of lady food bloggers. But do we honestly enjoy these sites, or are we hate-reading them? For our second course, we cha…
16: Restaurateurs Under Trump | Whence The Midsize American Farm? | Institutional Eating
Apr 10, 2017 • 50 min
Restaurant owners may claim to be progressive, but are they benefiting from the policies of the Trump administration? Next: What’s the midway point between the boutique organic CSA and corporate Big Ag? The elusive and increasingly rare midsized American…
15: Spammed By ‘Spon Con’ | Convoluted Cobranding | Why Is Brewpub Food So Bad?
Mar 27, 2017 • 46 min
So-called “Spon Con” is influencing our food-purchasing decisions. But can we identify it when we see it? Next, cobranding has crossed over from fashion to food, with some bizarre consequences. We’ll debate the merits of Carhartt-brand beer and…
14: Grocery-Store Checkout Talk | The Death Of The Dinner Party | The Average Home Cook
Mar 13, 2017 • 47 min
Ep. 14: Grocery-Store Checkout Talk | The Death Of The Dinner Party | The Average Home Cook by Oregon Public Broadcasting
13: Food Network Champion Tells All | Laptop Squatters And Cafés | Why Kids Should Cook
Feb 27, 2017 • 43 min
What’s really happening behind the scenes at the Food Network? Are so-called “laptop squatters” bad for business or good for café culture? And could a cooking class improve your child’s test scores?
12: Why Truffles Are Like Drugs | Restaurant Playlists | Rethinking The Microwave
Feb 13, 2017 • 54 min
Are four-star restaurants serving narcotics? Truffles are sold on the black market for thousands of dollars per kilo; and according to Italian researchers, these homely little tubers can get you high. We discuss, then turn our attention to the role of…
11: Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party | Dictatorial Dining | Single-Subject Cookbooks
Jan 30, 2017 • 47 min
Get to know the only cooking show that brings high society together with “high” society: “Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party.” Next, get to know the hardline rules restaurants are increasingly laying down for customers to follow. Finally, what’s the…
10: Competitive Culinary Tourism | Eating Under Embargo | Rum, From Cuba With Love
Jan 16, 2017 • 55 min
As American tourists stream into the newly opened nation of Cuba, they’re driven by a desire to capture this magical moment. But how “authentic” is a Cuban dining experience when full-time residents don’t have access to many foods? After a heavy…
9: The Juice Cleanse | Digital Foraging | Food On The WWI Homefront
Jan 3, 2017 • 45 min
We kick off our ninth episode by evaluating a popular new year’s resolution, the juice cleanse: Is it effective or counterproductive? Next, we take stock of the ways in which the digital era has altered the age-old art of foraging for wild edibles.…
8: The Tyrannical Traditional Table, Fake Food Holidays And The Culinary Class Divide
Dec 19, 2016 • 44 min
With the help of Megan Scott, the fresh new face of “The Joy of Cooking,” our panelists question holiday food traditions and decry the scourge of fake food holidays (although National Eggnog Day might get a pass). Finally, they tackle the troubling class…
7: Have You Eaten Your Sea Vegetables? | New in Food for 2017 | Doing the Hoke-ay Poke Listen
Dec 5, 2016 • 43 min
In our seventh episode, we look forward to 2017. We pick at the new food trend that is poke (that’s “poh-kay,” OK?), and swim through the underwater world of sea vegetables. And our panelists share their food-and-drink predictions for the year to come.
6: Soylent | Craft Beer’s Dirty Secret | Fear The Yeti
Nov 21, 2016 • 47 min
We uncover craft beer’s dirty little secret and examine the cult phenom that is the Yeti cooler company — but not before sipping Soylent, the embattled Silicon Valley food replacement.
5: Secret Menu Items | Martha Stewart’s Meal-Prep Kits | Dining In The Instagram Era
Nov 7, 2016 • 51 min
In our fifth episode, our panelists investigate the “secret menu” trend that’s happening in national chain restaurants and discuss the significant impact Instagram has had on restaurant menus. In addition, our two professional recipe testers try out…
4: Session Beers Back | Fast Casual Dining | The War On Minimum Wage
Oct 24, 2016 • 38 min
In our fourth episode, we embrace the return of the simple session beer and explore the new millennial-friendly restaurant category called “fast casual.”We also discuss the connection between restaurant workers and changing minimum wage laws.
3: Recipe Theft | Born-Again Chefs | Tipping … Over?
Oct 10, 2016 • 41 min
In our third episode, we explore the nefarious realm of recipe theft, discuss the recent trend of born-again chefs ditching bacon and embracing health food and debate the end of tipping as we know it.
2: Meaningless Food Terms | Flavor Bombs | Bycatch Curious
Sep 26, 2016 • 41 min
In our second episode, we kvetch about B.S. food terminology, learn why inherent flavor will save our lives and cast our net around bycatch, the best new thing in seafood.
1: Breakfast Insanity | Dining Out On Apps | Talking Trash About Food Waste
Sep 12, 2016 • 39 min
In the debut episode of “The Four Top,” we talk trash about food waste, unpack the baffling breakfast-ization of dinner and test-drive the hottest dining apps for your phone.
Trailer: The Four Top
Sep 2, 2016 • 1 min
From food waste to tipping, The Four Top is a roundtable discussion of today’s hot-button topics in food and beverage culture. Listen in every other Monday.