With the likes of Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods and Anthony Bourdain of No Reservations, it can seem like the boys are the only ones making wisecracks and having fun on food television. Meet Eden Grinshpan, graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in London, and host of the Cooking Channel’s new show Eden Eats. She’s young, smart, and brings a fresh perspective to food. Each episode features Grinshpan exploring the cuisine in ethnic enclaves over a 24-hour span. Tampa is featured in the episode on Fri., Aug. 24 at 10 p.m. Grinshpan spoke to us from her New York City apartment.
CL: So how was your trip to Tampa?
It was one of my favorite episodes. I’ve been to Florida but didn’t know much about Tampa. Every story in that episode was so different from the next. It’s very multicultural.
So what did you eat?
We went to Tarpon Springs and met with a Greek family that opened a restaurant there. I think it was called Mykonos.
Did you go to Hella’s bakery?
Which one was that?
The one where it’s like a fantasy dessert spread that goes on and on. Beautiful pastries in glass cases…
Oh yes, I remember that. I can’t not go into places that catch my eye.
Where else did you go while you were in Tampa?
We went to this fantastic Trinidadian restaurant (Tara’s Roti Shop and Caribbean Café). They had fried patties stuffed with masala and tamarind cucumber sauce. I loved meeting Tara, she’s featured in the show.
Are you surprised by some of the food you’re finding in these cities?
Absolutely. We went to a fantastic South African restaurant in San Diego. We ate bunny chow. Don’t worry; there are no bunnies in it. I learned that it comes from Durban in South Africa and that the dish has a strong Indian background. It’s chicken curry stuffed into a hollow loaf of bread.
Why do you think these kinds of ethnic restaurants exist?
When you come to a new country and new environment, you hold on through food. It’s the easiest thing to recreate.
Does that mean the definition of American food is changing?
America is so multicultural; people think it’s just burgers and fries. That’s not the case at all.
How do you find these places?
We do research before we go to the city and find out what kind of communities are there, any events going on. Everyone is blown away. It’s so refreshing to see how strong they hold on to their food. It hasn’t been Americanized. It’s authentic.
When you were in Tampa, did you get down to Cigar City?
I did! We learned about Cuban cigar-rolling and enjoyed some Chicharrones de Puerco, fried plantains and cigars. It was so lively there.
So where did you get the idea for this show?
It all started because I had a love for travel and people. When I moved to New York City, I went on trying new foods I’d never tried before. I met the right people and we put together a reel. We show 6-7 different cultures in episode, from day to late night when the bakeries open.
Did the cooking techniques you learned in school differ from the way the ethnic restaurants run their kitchens?
Yes, and I love that. It shows how big the culinary field is. The recipes we are featuring have been passed down from generation to generation. I’m learning shortcuts I never knew before, and learning about ingredients I never knew about.
Do you hope to change perspectives on food in America?
I want people to explore their back yard; I can guarantee this stuff exists in every city in America. There are new neighborhoods you’ve never seen or tasted.