Whether you are new to podcasts or have a queue of shows ready to listen to, there are always popular shows that “you must listen to”, but somehow never have. Our Point Of Entry series aims to give you just that – a point of entry into the shows you’ve heard of, but never heard.
Like a genie waiter bursting out of a lamp, Off Menu exploded onto the podcast scene in late 2018 and since the first episode has consistently brought listeners a delectable mix of humour and food chat through a hugely diverse selection of brilliant guests. Each week, comedians Ed Gamble and James Acaster invite a guest into the “Dream Restaurant” where they choose their dream meal consisting of a Starter, Main Course, Side Dish, Dessert and Drink. It’s a simple premise that never fails to deliver some very big laughs from all the cuisine quizzing.
I’ve been a huge fan since the beginning and one rainy day, whilst listening on my commute home, I had an idea to set up a “No Context” Twitter account – where I could post out-of-context quotes from the podcast that were laden with double-entendre, bizarrely confusing or just outright hilarious. In two years, the account has grown to almost 30,000 followers, occasionally gets mentioned on the podcast and even has its own official merch made in collaboration with the Off Menu boys themselves! With the fifth series set to kick off on Wednesday 27 January, the good people at Pod Bible got in touch to ask which episodes I would recommend that best showcase the podcast. There are just so many to choose from, but here are my picks of what to delve into if you’re new to Off Menu…
Filled to the brim with huge laughs and incredible food choices that will surely have your tummy rumbling, Sindhu Vee’s visit to the Dream Restaurant stands out as one of the finest episodes simply because it strikes the perfect balance of side-splitting humour and good, honest food chat. Vee is a wildly entertaining and funny storyteller who deftly holds court as she dispenses tale after tale from her fascinating life. With stories of stolen wedding ceviche and eating four slices of pizza a day for 42 days to impress a guy, it’s a perfectly rounded episode with everyone on their top form and is a testament to how well the format of Off Menu worked from its early days.
“To the hungry person, even the doorway looks like crisps”– Sindhu Vee
Find out the context and listen to Sindhu Vee on Off Menu episode 15
In this fan favourite episode, Joe Thomas (forever to be known as Simon from The Inbetweeners) visits the Dream Restaurant and gives us the most frantic, scatter-brained menu yet! There are more tangents here than a geometry textbook, as he skips and stutters back and forth through what is frankly an indecipherable and maddening collection of inexplicably hilarious yarns. His anecdotes (“Whatever happened to the Spaghetti Bolognese Boys?”) and his general thoughts (“Why is the 90’s four decades ago?”) are so bewildering that James “The Genie” Acaster has to take a back seat and play the straight man for once. “Never met you before, Joe… You are an absolute mess”, Acaster comments as the chat twists and turns and takes you to the most unexpected of places, climaxing with the infamous, epic tale of a lamb being buried in a garden. Truly an emotional rollercoaster that gets paid off beautifully in a follow-up surprise episode that dropped on Christmas Day 2020.
“Did it smell? Yes. What did it smell of? Blood.” – Joe Thomas
Find out the context and listen to Joe Thomas on Off Menu Episode 50
One of the joys of Off Menu is how rich the guest list can be and being a food podcast, it opens up the opportunities to have some brilliant chefs on board who really know their stuff. Famous chefs such as Tom Kerridge and Marcus Samuelson have made very memorable appearances in the past but recently ‘Masterchef’ winner and Wahaca co-founder, Thomasina Miers, was an absolute delight. There’s some excellent culinary conversation in here, even a whole recipe for some delicious Crushed Potatoes intricately and beautifully described by Miers. But it’s not all gabble about grub; there’s a whole lot of silliness in there too: a highlight being an extended conversation about things you can put up your butt that leaves the guest incapacitated with laughter.
“Butt plug” – Thomasina Miers
Find out the context and listen to Thomasina Miers on Off Menu Episode 82
You can listen to Off Menu on Acast, Spotify and all other podcast apps. You can also hear Ed and James discuss the show on Episode #012 of the Pod Bible Podcast before hearing Ed Gamble recommend one of his favourite shows on Episode #018 of the Pod Bible podcast, and James Acaster giving his recommendation on Episode #022 of the Pod Bible podcast.