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Phil Rosenthal on ‘Somebody Feed Phil’ Season 5’s ‘A Joke for Max,’ New Cookbook and Tribute Episode to His Parents

SOMEBODY FEED PHIL. Phil Rosenthal in SOMEBODY FEED PHIL. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022
Courtesy of Netflix

Happy, hungry man Phil Rosenthal is back to travel all across the sea and the land for the fifth season of “Somebody Feed Phil.” Bringing fans to five new scrumptious locations — including Oaxaca, Maine, Helsinki, Portland and Madrid — the Wednesday release on Netflix will mark the first season to not include the “Everybody Loves Raymond” creator’s father Max Rosenthal, who died in June 2021.

For the first four seasons of “Somebody Feed Phil,” Max appeared over video chat to talk with his son wherever he was in the world and to tell viewers at home a joke. Rosenthal’s mother, Helen Rosenthal, was there alongside her husband Max for the bits in Seasons 1 and 2. She died in 2019.

In order to keep his late parents, whom he calls “the best part of the show,” included for the fifth season, Rosenthal came up with the idea for “A Joke for Max,” which sees a different person Zooming in with him each episode to see where he is and what he’s eating and, of course, tell a joke for Max.

“I hope you like that, because it really comes from the heart,” Rosenthal told Variety.

For the five episodes in “Somebody Feed Phil” Season 5, the “A Joke for Max” guests include Ben Rosenthal (Phil’s son), Judy Gold, Brad Garrett, Paul Reiser and Larry Wilmore.

“It was kind of easy. I asked if they would do it and they said yes. Especially the people that met him or knew him, but even if they hadn’t met him, they knew him from the show. And so they were happy to do the ‘Joke for Max,’ and I think it’s a wonderful way to honor his spirit and the spirit that I hope the show has, which is we like to have fun. One of the great joys in life is to laugh. And it goes hand in hand for me with the whole experience. For me, food is the great connector. But then laughs are the cement.”

And there are more laughs to come. As Variety exclusively reported, “Somebody Feed Phil” has already been renewed for a sixth season, which was filmed back-to-back with Season 5 and is expected to debut this fall. Mixed in with those episodes is a special tribute installment dedicated entirely to Rosenthal’s parents.

SOMEBODY FEED PHIL. Phil Rosenthal in SOMEBODY FEED PHIL. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

“Netflix has graciously greenlit a special tribute episode to Helen and Max, and that will be on in the fall,” the comedian said. “So I can’t wait for people to see that. It’s turning out very, very well. Because to me, they were the best part of the show. I always say people sit through my crap just to get to them. Happily, we have now a whole bank of episodes with them in it. And it’s a little like life; you’ve got to move on. Nothing lasts forever. And so, how do we continue and still honor the past and honor their spirit? I think we found a way to do it.”

Also in Season 6, Rosenthal says “Everybody Loves Raymond” star Ray Romano — who was a premiere guest on Rosenthal’s new podcast, “Naked Lunch” — is one of his “A Joke for Max” guests. But he doesn’t think anyone can top the first to give the tribute bit a go. “I have to be honest, my favorite is when my son does a joke, and it’s so sweet because he’s channeling his grandpa. It’s so touching and sweet, and the joke is really funny,” Rosenthal said. “And he does it great.”

Once they’re done binging Season 5 and awaiting a set premiere date for Season 6, Phil fans can fill their time by preordering the soon-to-be-released companion cookbook, “Somebody Feed Phil: The Book,” which arrives Oct. 18, 2022, from Simon & Schuster.

“I can’t wait for people to get the book because it is a great companion book to the show with behind-the-scenes photos and stories,” Rosenthal said. “But in addition, there are 60 of the most-requested recipes from the first four seasons. So I can’t think of a cookbook that would be better, because it has the best recipes from the best chefs all around the world, all in one place.”

SOMEBODY FEED PHIL. Phil Rosenthal in SOMEBODY FEED PHIL. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

What’s the most requested recipe? A pork chop that was featured in the “Venice” episode from Season 2, which Rosenthal says he gets messaged about all the time.

“It’s funny that they want that recipe, because on the show, I don’t show a lot of process of how they make something — but that one I did,” Rosenthal said laughing. “I did it because it’s so simple and that anyone can do it. And yet I still get so many requests for the actual physical recipe. So that’s in there.”

On the opposite end of the challenge meter, Rosenthal says the book includes a very different recipe from the same episode: “Five Ages of Parmigiano Reggiano in Different Textures and Temperatures” from Italian chef Massimo Bottura’s Osteria Francescana, a three-Michelin-star restaurant in Modena, Italy, which has been listed in the top five of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards since 2010.

“I mean, we’re talking about molecular gastronomy. And he gave us that recipe. I think I have to have a prize for whoever makes it and makes it look like the way it does on the show,” Rosenthal said. “You have to be a master chef to even attempt it. But we’re including it, just to show the range! I would look at that recipe and say, maybe I’ll just have a piece of Parmesan cheese from this recipe.”