This week, we check in with Joel Riddell, the lively and colorful host of Bay Area’s “Dining Around” on Newstalk910.
Each week on the beloved, long-running talk show (Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Newstalk910), Joel chats with national and local restaurant-industry luminaries. His guests have included Nigella Lawson, Anthony Bourdain, Jacques Pepin, Thomas Keller and countless others. He offers insider’s tips for living the good life – the enjoyment of fine food (from street trucks to haute cuisine), memorable wines and unforgettable travel experiences around the globe.
What’s your top story right now?
I look for guests from outside regions along with guests from closer to home. With five interview segments each Saturday, I can combine both local and national topics. For example, I recently hosted in-studio Nigella Lawson and Lidia Bastianich. In the coming weeks I will host Richard Blais. However, the show is not all about national names, as local people and events create interest and spur audience participation all week long.
What’s your “dream assignment”?
Anything that combines food, wine and travel. I am, in a way, living the dream. I enjoy visiting places like Monaco, Italy and Portugal, but also like to explore new destinations.
The wackiest moment in your career?
I have had many a wacky moment on the job: Standing on the porch of an officer in Israel, commenting on fireflies only to find out the streaks of light were munitions, not bugs; discussing runway lengths with an Italian airport official for a charity Jet trip; and serving dinner for a group of muckity-mucks under the influence of Chef Yu Bo from Sichuan.
Do you have a PR Pet Peeve?
Having a person contact me without doing any research on me. I have a radio program, which means your suggested guest must be available to be…on the radio. Simple? You would be surprised.
What’s the top trend in the culinary industry today?
The industry is going back to its roots, and that is super-duper exciting. Haute cuisine is that which is closest to nature. Now, the granola left and the elite right are coming together in a new way. We want to know the names of the farms, the breed of the animal, and to have available the purest expression of food and wine. It is so exciting to see this taking place in the corner restaurant, at the high end establishment and in our own homes.
Tell us a little more about yourself.
We are all the sum of our experiences. Thankfully, I have not yet had to add mine up. Always moving, dining, drinking and researching, I find the moments and people I feel need to be shared. I have lived and worked on a farm, in restaurants, hotels, and participated in many aspects of the hospitality arena.
I am also an emcee, host, judge and chef participant for the some of the epicurean world’s most exclusive events and competitions in and around the Bay Area. While I was at KGO-AM, along with my close friend and mentor, Gene Burns (who hosted the show prior to me), helped raise nearly $1 million for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Questions or comments? Send an email to Joel at [email protected] or leave a comment below. You can also follow Joel on Twitter: @joelriddell.