Eat This with Dave Lieberman

Even if Dave Lieberman weren't the first chef to have his own Web-only Food Network program (at www.foodnetwork.com/food/show_et), he'd deserve a hearty slap on the back for designing a menu for Song Airways that makes you actually want to eat airplane food. The first few episodes of Eat This find the 25-year-old wunderkind racing around on his bike—though the show actually jets from East Coast to West Coast, with layovers in the Midwest (and a too-brief stop, in the fifth episode, at Redmond's SaltWorks). Lieberman rattles off food facts with supersonic speed, since each episode moves at a dizzying pace. (If you miss a factoid, don't fret; they're printable.) He occasionally pauses to join a fellow chef in the kitchen and do some cooking (and eating). The show's first three episodes deal with spiced chocolate, futuristic cuisine (of the sort pioneered at Spain's El Bulli restaurant), and holiday fare. The last of these short segments, none of which exceeds five minutes, is the best. Lieberman and his guests (Daniel DeLong and Margaret Grade of Manka's Inverness Lodge in Marin County, California) passionately push local and organic foods, demonstrating how creativity, Slow Food principles, and a strong concern for the integrity of your ingredients can turn ho-hum holiday traditions into a fantastic spread (smoked-gouda mashed potatoes? Yes, please). The show's background music is cheesy, and the writing is amateurish ("Visit us next time on Eat This as we delve into another exciting food realm"), but Lieberman's childlike enthusiasm is infectious, and the bite-sized episodes are long enough to inspire without being long enough to bore.

 
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