Behind the Scenes: An L.A. Taco Crawl and Finding Bull Testicle Ceviche for Andrew Zimmern

Making it happen for some of the television’s biggest food programs
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When I’m not busy hunting down undiscovered L.A. street food gems or dining in the best kitchens in Latin America, one of my odd jobs is steering top names in food television towards interesting restaurants. On Monday September 28, the new PBS show I’ll Have What Phil’s Having will make its debut featuring legendary creator, showrunner, and executive producer of Everybody Loves Raymond, Phil Rosenthal. During the L.A. episode, which airs November 2, I take him on a food tour around L.A. On the same night, the season 9 premier of Bizarre Foods will head to Guatemala for a first look at one of the best and most unexplored cuisines in Latin America—and I had the privilege of tracking down bull testicles (among other things) for Andrew Zimmern.

Phil Rosenthal has pulled off something that’s virtually impossible in food television these days; he’s actually doing a food and travel show about—food and travel! There’s no cheesy hook or gimmick, “just food, family, friends, travel, and laughs with the hope that more Americans will apply for a passport and go learn about the world the best way I know—through eating great food,” he says.

In addition to L.A. institutions old and new like Petit Trois, Commissary, Langer’s, and Grand Central Market, I took Phil on a taco tour through Boyle Heights and the Arts District, where Phil had his favorite bite in all six episodes at Carnitas El Momo. “You could have a $400 meal and still not top those carnitas,” said Rosenthal, “I wanted to do an L.A. episode because L.A. has the best dining scene in America in its diversity, and show people they could travel in their own city and discover new neighborhoods.”

The taco crawl featuring Guerrilla Tacos, Carnitas El Momo, and Mariscos Jalisco won Phil’s heart, but for Zimmern it was a bowl of bull testicle ceviche in Antigua, Guatemala that inspired him to bring Bizarre Foods to the pearl of the Mayan Kingdom.

Over a year ago, I headed to Guatemala to share my findings on an incredible cuisine that’s not been given much attention with dear friend, Andrew (I’ve appeared on 3 shows with Zimmern and have assisted his production company with other locations in Latin America). The moment I saw and tasted the raw bull testicle ceviche, I knew that he’d bite (both for the location and the testicles). Come on, this is Andrew Zimmern we’re talking about here.

I visited 13 towns in Guatemala on my week-long trip and I can’t wait to see which of my findings make the show’s final cut. But bull testicle ceviche? It’s a lock. Both shows begin their seasons on Sept. 28I’ll Have What Phil’s Having will head to Tokyo while Zimmern kicks off season 9 with Bizarre Foods: Guatemala.

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