On the James Beard Award-nominated podcast, Belle chats with celebrities (like the Food Network’s Duff Goldman and musician Jack Johnson, to name a few) about what they would choose for their last meal, the topic of food, stories behind their favorite dishes and more. This year, at the Crosscut Ideas Festival, Belle will conduct a live taping of Your Last Meal in front of our festival audience. Her guest will be Marc Summers, host of Double Dare and Unwrapped. The audience will get a chance to ask a few questions and even enjoy Marc’s last meal.
Every year, journalists, politicians, authors and newsmakers from our Pacific Northwest community and around the nation come together at the Crosscut Ideas Festival to take a hard look at the people, policies and events that shape our lives. (Interested? Get tickets now.) This year, podcast fans will be excited to enjoy several live tapings in addition to Your Last Meal with Rachel Belle.
Our tech-savvy attendees will love The Vergecast's take on the most important industry news. Political junkies will have their plates full with The Assignment featuring CNN’s Audie Cornish (interviewing Ibram X. Kendi), plus The Weeds from Vox. And Supreme Court watchers won’t want to miss Slate’s Amicus podcast with Dahlia Lithwick.
Before joining us at the Crosscut Ideas Festival, Belle took the time to chat with Crosscut about her dream dinner-party guest list (dead or alive), her last meal and more.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
What inspired you to start your podcast Your Last Meal?
I was a broadcast journalist for 20 years (I only left news radio a few months ago to focus on the podcast full-time). While researching a story, I came across a website that listed the last meals of every inmate executed in the state of Texas. I was morbidly intrigued: Some people ordered 15 dishes, a rare few chose nothing, a lot of people wanted fried chicken. I thought about this website a lot, I thought about my own last meal a lot, and I started asking friends and strangers what their last meal would be.
So when I had the opportunity to pitch a podcast concept at Seattle's KIRO Radio, I already had a vision for the show: I wanted to interview celebrities about what they'd choose to eat for their last meal, and then follow those foods down the rabbit hole to learn more about the science, history and culture with experts from around the globe. But the show is not morbid! Not even a little bit! The idea is to get to know people through the universal, and often intimate, topic of food and learn the stories behind the dishes we mindlessly scarf down every day. I've gotten to talk food with fascinating folks like Jewel, Isaac Mizrahi, Rainn Wilson, Jenny Slate and John Waters (who only wants a single leaf of arugula!). We have fun!
What would be your last meal?
It's such a hard question, I can't believe I make other people answer it! Raw oysters that I get to pluck off a quiet Western Washington beach, shuck myself and slurp down with an ice-cold hazy IPA in hand. A perfect Beecher's grilled cheese sandwich: crunchy, buttery toast and the gooiest, meltiest, cheese-pulliest cheese. Shrimp cocktail! It doesn't have to be fancy – if you ever see a woman dipping shrimp into a plastic container of cocktail sauce in her car in the Fred Meyer parking lot, it's most likely me.
Who would be your dream dinner-party guests, dead or alive?
Well, I'd have to invite my dream podcast guests: Larry David and Sarah Silverman. Isaac Mizrahi is extremely charming, fun to banter with and a great cook. And the only person I consider a hero, Julia Child. I'd call it Four Jews (including me) and a Julia!
What are you hoping to discuss at the Crosscut Ideas Festival?
My celebrity guest is Marc Summers, host of Double Dare, Unwrapped and producer of some of your favorite Food Network shows. He has a fascinating career path, so we'll dig into that along with lots of other tasty topics. The audience will get to enjoy Marc's last meal while we chat!
What makes a live taping (like the one at the Crosscut Ideas Festival) special to podcast fans?
Since the pandemic started, I have only been able to do two celebrity interviews in person. The energy and flow and unexpected humor and banter that happens during a live show cannot be matched. Plus, it's the only time that listeners can ask the guest questions!
Join Rachel Belle and other podcasters at the Crosscut Ideas Festival.