Food on TV
Austin hasn't always been known as a foodie destination. But thanks to the televised efforts of some phenomenal chefs winning top national prizes, we're gaining quite a bit of momentum in that department.
Adding embers to that flame, auburn-haired blogger and all-around gal about town Tolly Moseley (aka Austin Eavesdropper), is now one of four hosts of the new food lovers' web series Hungry In..., which premiered Friday on YouTube's new Hungry Channel, which collects some of the best clips about cooking and food you'll find anywhere on the Internet.
In the series, Moseley reps our city proudly, exploring Austin's many neighborhoods and their secret tastebud treasures, while fellow hosts from New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco do the same for their cities. While the other three may have the advantage in size, we've got the added Texas charm of our very own Eavesdropper who knows this city inside and out.
We talked with Moseley about her experiences shooting Hungry In... over the past few months, her culinary TV idols and what we have to look forward to in the first tantalizing season.
CultureMap: First of all, congrats on the series! This is another happy case of local gal making it big. Are you still going to keep the name "Austin Eavesdropper" when you're a national celebrity?
Citysearch's headquarters are in L.A., and they are across the street from Electus, a television studio. Electus had just gotten a grant from YouTube to start a food channel, and Citysearch showed them my video, which they liked. So Citysearch pitched them a show focused on local eating, Electus greenlit it, and together, Citysearch and The Hungry Channel launched the show with four markets and four hosts, with me being the Austin host.
CM: Will there be any surprises or upsets from you on this season of Hungry In...?
We would love, LOVE for people to recommend their favorite, lesser-known culinary pockets to cover as well. If we get to do more seasons, I'd like to have a balance of "culinary chic" places (East Side Show Room, Swift's Attic, etc.) and hole-in-the-wall taco stands and burger joints. I'd like to show off to the rest of the world that Austin is "weird" in part because we have some rich ethnic pockets that don't always get shown off in the national media.
TM: I've always liked food hosts that were "on foot" so to speak, like Anthony Bourdain (I know! Everyone says him, but it's true!) and Andrew Zimmern that give you a historical sense of place and people as they eat. For that matter, Josh Ozersky, my co-host in New York, is also a role model. He's a Notre Dame-trained historian, and brings that sensibility to his food-writing. I'm much more comfortable in that realm: telling people about a place and the people who animate it, then talking about flavor composition or plate presentation. I've been freelance writing about Austin for five years, so I've been lucky to get an ad-hoc food education along the way.
Also, Alex Guarnaschelli (a real-life celebrity chef) and — though these two women don't have shows — Kim Severson and Ruth Reichl. All three are extraordinary food writers. I've read all of Ruth's books, and I wrote a fan letter to Kim for her book Spoon Fed. All three have a way of talking about food in an artful way that involves memory and relationships, and I aspire to write that way too.
CM: Are you a good cook at home, or are you the expert at picking restaurants to go out to?
TM: I'm not a good cook. Definitely the pick-out-a-restaurant type of person. I'm a city expert!
CM: Between blogging, writing and now an online TV show, what is next for Tolly Moseley?
TM: Yoga certification! I love all the media work I do and consider myself very, VERY lucky to have gotten this latest opportunity. But too much computer/media time can make you crazy, and yoga is my salve. I've wanted to get certified for a long time and share it with people.
You can watch Moseley and the whole Hungry In... crew by subscribing to the Hungry Channel on YouTube. New episodes release every Friday morning, on The Hungry In... page, where you can also search for the restaurants Tolly describes on Citysearch.