VICE’s Munchies: The World of Underground Food Trends
Few other media outlets cover the world the way VICE does – by going behind the covers to offer us a candid and honest look at reality. Their food-centric channel, Munchies, does a similar job of presenting the reality of food from a rare, genuine, and refreshing lens.
This article is a guide as much as it is an ode to VICE’s Munchies.
With a tone that is watered-down formality, the shows create a style that provides a slice of the life of the people influencing our food, whether its consumers, producers, chefs or critics. The laidback, casual hosting style, the natural humour and authenticity of presenters reflects the experiences, influences and interests of people the food world is made of.
The show Chef’s Night Out follows renowned chefs on a night out with their entourage as they eat and drink at their favorite local places, before ending the night with a cookout at their own restaurants. This show is a great way to know what it might be like to hang out with chefs such as Michael Voltaggio of ‘Ink.’ in Los Angeles or Gabriel Pryce of ‘Rita’s’ in London. Nowhere else will you see them guzzling down drinks with friends and hitting their favorite hotspots over the course of a night.
It’s raw and bare and it humanizes these chefs in a way that is as entertaining as educational. From finer dishes like a Lobster or Scallop Ceviche (raw fish) to street-style Lamb Kebabs, Chef’s Night Out is a drunken foodie adventure ride that takes places after dark.
A personal favorite show would be Fuck, That’s Delicious, which is hosted by chef-turned-rapper and absolute entertainer, Action Bronson. The combination of hip-hop and food transcends into a melting pot of the arts of music and cooking, with Action Bronson touring the world and trying out all sorts of cuisines in different corners of the world, from London to Amsterdam to Marrakech and even Jamaica!
Paired with subtly awkward humor in the coming together of fine food and explicit music, Bronson tries out street vendors as well as fine chefs such as Mario Batali and Michael Voltaggio, talking music, food and smoking weed pretty much the whole way. Action knows how to keep it real with his pleasures.
Munchies goes face to face with culinary trends, fads and traditions that are dying out or gaining steam through a polarizing range of shows like Sex + Food and The Politics of Food. Things are kept light in Sex + Food with episodes about exploring a factory that makes edible sex toys and Sushi traditions where Sushi is eaten off the body of a woman. The Politics of Food, however, engages with socio-economic issues such as Sushi fans and the endangered delicacy of Bluefin Tuna, or the ethical arguments regarding the preparation of Foie Gras.
The Sushi Chef is another cool concept created by Munchies as it explores the lives, inspirations and ideologies of the most original and groundbreaking sushi chefs. Primarily based on chefs in the USA, they also tap into Asian and European kitchens to take a deeper look at the localization of sushi around the globe.
A little more meditative than their other shows, it’s also more packed with cultural insight. This is Munchies’ most informative show and a definite hit for everyone who never moved on from ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’.
Munchies also does well to chat about the beverage side of meals by elaborately exploring drinking cultures around the world through shows such as Al-Kee-Hol and Craft Werk.
Al-Kee-Hol presents its viewers with on location research with various hosts around the world about extraordinary drinking cultures and/or traditions. The episode on the Jagermeister factory in Germany is a historical insight into a drink that has spread across cultures around the globe. Similarly, they do a segment on Absinthe traditions around France/Switzerland and Ice Wine cellars around the Niagara Falls.
Craft Werk is a similar drinking show, strictly about local beer breweries that are offer alternative styles and flavors, or are experimenting with different, unique produce. Both shows have fresh hosts for every episode, which adds to the variety and charm of their topics.
What makes VICE’s Munchies a practical food bible is their idea of balance. They balance the immensely serious themes with light-hearted humor, the same way they balance out the food-heavy subjects with cultural deliberation, like how something affects our tables and the conversations around them.
All the while, their sole motto – seemingly – appears to be expression: it’s not about people appearing good or bad in certain ways; just people being themselves in their natural environment.
By capturing the essence of the various cultures surrounding food, Munchies shows how easily food blends with art forms, traditions, and cultures. Although the shows by Munchies aren’t serious, they are intellectually educational. The shows balance the relationship between cultural expression and food in a variety of places around our planet.
All photos are the property of VICE’s Munchies.
Which show will you watch first? Tell us in the comments below!