Feast Is Feast With Big Zuu | Global
Remi Burgz (Radio 1Xtra) | BBC Sounds
Going Home With Vick and Jordan (Radio 1) | BBC Sounds
Wild Things: Siegfried and Roy | Apple TV+/At Will Media
If you, like me, are in search of some joy during the longest January ever recorded, may I recommend the new food podcast Feast Is Feast, from Big Zuu? Zuu, real name Zuhair Hassan, “aka Zig Buu, aka Fat Mo Salah” (he’s a Liverpool fan), is a grime artist and rapper with a cooking show on Dave, Big Eats, where he makes meals for comedians. Big Eats is also the name of a track Zuu made with his cousin AJ Tracey. On this “poddy”, he’s louder, warmer, sillier: “You say random things! It’s a poddy!” He’s a complete delight.
The show is, on the surface, similar to other well established foodie podcasts out there. Like Table Manners with Jessie and Lennie Ware, or Out to Lunch with the Observer’s own Jay Rayner, or Comfort Eating with Grace Dent, it uses food as a way into understanding a celebrity interviewee. But with each of these shows some eating is involved, whether a full meal or a comforting snack. Zuu’s approach is simpler. There’s no actual food here at all. He just chats with his interviewee about food-related stuff: what they ate as children, how they eat today, how they use meals in their job, what turns their stomach.
So far, he’s had two guests: musician Craig David and footballer turned pundit Jermaine Jenas. Both episodes are revelatory, not just in content, but in tone. Zuu brings the right vibes, married to the correct respect, and you can hear his guests relax. Their professional demeanour melts away, replaced by something more jokey, intimate and honest. You realise just how much they’ve been dialling down their full personalities for mainstream audiences.
David, in particular, is a brilliant listen. He clearly loves food – not cooking it, but eating it – and his pleasure is thoroughly infectious. He talks about selling (and eating) chocolate bars at school (“getting high on my own supply”), and describes how much he loved a particular chicken wrap made at an Ibizan hotel. Jenas is a surprise too, his Nottingham roots much more noticeable than on TV. Born to a Jamaican dad and a British mum, with all the culinary variety that implies, his ideal food is northern “stodge”: sausage, mash, gravy inside a big yorkshire pudding. But truly, this podcast should be heard simply for David describing the complicated way he eats Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice-cream.
I hope you noticed that I got through an entire section on food podcasts without using the words “ambush” and “cake”. In this, I am unlike Greg James, who, on Wednesday, asked his Radio 1 breakfast listeners to call in with their personal cake ambush scenarios. That’s where we are as a nation, politics-wise. I’ve been flipping between dials at breakfast, and every time I’ve gone back to the Today programme, I hear another lower rank politician minutely parsing the meaning of the words “party” or “work” or “rules”. And I switch to another station, again.
Anyway, after Zuu, I decided to extend my cheerful listening by tuning to 1Xtra in the afternoon, where new recruit Remi Burgz is into the second week of her afternoon show. Burgz is a born chatterer, with a mad laugh, and knows to ride the music when she occasionally searches for words. Her show will develop; for the moment, she’s nailing the good-time atmosphere. Over on Radio 1, in the Going Home slot, Vick Hope and Jordan North are another upbeat listen. Now six months into their slot, they easily spin silly chat into something listener-inclusive.
And, for us oldies, now that Radio 1 music can be anything and everything, the playlist can sound weirdly familiar. At one point Hope and North played a track (Ben Hemsley’s Love Peace and Harmony) that was so early-90s, I started having flashbacks. Straight after, they went into an impromptu riff about “-ation” words, inspired by the “higher and higher – temp-ta-tion” Heaven 17 sample in the Hemsley song. Later, some daftness about whether you should be able to video-call friends from the bath. Listeners responded to both, immediately. A nice way to forget about real life.
I was hoping for more escapism with Wild Things, a podcast about the madly camp magic-with-white-tigers-in-Vegas act of Siegfried and Roy. Unfortunately, presenter Steven Leckart has elected to take S & R seriously, which rather kills the fun. Dry, diligent reporting is not what this story needs. It requires more surprise, more sugar. Where are those cake ambushers when you need them?