Philadelphia is good at starting things, revolutions and new forms of government, as well as culinary uprisings large and small. On Walnut Street, Chuck Hughes discovers Pickled Watermelon and Poutine topped with Fried Eggs at Square Peg and Veggie and traditional Meatballs at Marabella Meatball Co. Chuck then takes a walk to nearby Middle Eastern restaurant Zahav for a Hanger Steak on a bed of Baba Ghanoush and discovers one of the secret ingredients for the gelato at Capogiro Gelato that will make your head spin.
New Orleans is a big delicious gumbo, and on Magazine Street, Chuck Hughes tastes a spicy melange of diverse influences. He starts with a crawfish pie straight from the bayou served up at Tee Eva's Pralines & Pecans, then gets a lesson in Creole roux at Ignatius. Up next, Chuck indulges his sweet tooth and penchant for hot sauce at the grocery store, Breaux Mart. Chuck gets a taste of a paneed Mississippi Rabbit sandwich at La Petite Grocery and then tries his hand at pulling taffy at a Roman Candy Company's roadside attraction.
Memphis is on the bucket list for most music lovers, but it's also a mecca for food. Chuck gets a taste of rock-n-roll with peanut butter and banana pancakes cooked in a wood-fired pizza oven at Rock-n-Dough Pizza Co. Then, he experiences a nutty treat that's been popular since 1929 at The Nut Shoppe, along with soulful barbecue with a Memphis pitmaster at Rendezvous Rib Shipping. And no trip to Memphis is complete without fried catfish with the Queen of Southern cuisine at Felicia Suzanne's.
The "foodiest small town in America" has a lot to brag about. Portland, Maine, is where the ocean meets the farm, and Chuck tastes it all, including an underappreciated fish that gets its moment to shine in a delicate Pollock stew at Farmer's Table. Chuck also experiences the best sticky buns outside Paris at Standard Baking, along with a smoked lamb inspired by Italy at Vignola Cinque Terre and a fresh, steamed lobster that Chuck catches himself at Three Sons Lobster & Fish.
In the crazy collision of cultures and personalities that is San Francisco, all kinds of food trends come bubbling up into the national consciousness. And there's no better part of town to see that happen than the Mission District. In the City by the Bay, Chuck gets a tasty lesson in gi-normous burritos, as well as Latino history and culture, from local expert, Jaime Maldonado, and snacks on decadent pork belly donuts at favorite hang-out, The Sycamore. Then, he's off to Foreign Cinema to enjoy pan-seared halibut, butter beans and avant-garde film with Chef Kevin Davidson. Finally, Chuck dishes out Chicken Fried Soul sandwiches at Jason Fordley's late-night, pop-up kitchen, Soul Groove.
In cold remote Alaska, the views are amazing as the food. Chuck heads to Fourth Avenue in Anchorage to sample local favorites like traditional Russian dumplings called pelmenis and reindeer sausage (sorry Santa!). After Chuck goes fishing for salmon, Chef Reuben Gerber applies exceptional creativity to the native ingredient, pan-searing the fish with an orange gastrique high above the city in the Crow's Nest restaurant. Finally, Chuck enjoys a sweet rhubarb and strawberry popsicle from Kaity Reiley's vintage bike equipped with a cooler side car, called PopCycle. Even in summer the goodness of Alaska is best enjoyed frozen!