Big news from MSNBC this morning: Celebrity chef Tom Colicchio will become the network's first food correspondent and debut two new shows. Stirring the Pot will air on the network's new digital channel, Shift, and Everybody Eats will air on MSNBC and feature Colicchio taking influential folks to lunch.
He'll also contribute reports to other shows on the network. We asked him five questions about the new gig (not counting "why does my 'Wichcraft sandwich disappear so quickly?").
Adweek: What are you looking forward to talking about in this new role?
Colicchio: Just starting a conversation around food. I think, in more ways than people are aware of, there are issues around food safety, around transparency in the food system, obviously hunger—there are so many things to bump up against. There's a lot of television celebrating food, but I think people are ready for a different kind of conversation.
How important is the affordability of good food?
More and more so, I think. This isn't about the elite being able to eat organic food. That's fine, but we need to start talking about health and health in eating. We should start with a different baseline and look at the affordability of healthier foods, and that brings you right to policy, because then you look at what we're supporting with subsidies. If a head of broccoli or a peach is more expensive than a fast-food burger, I don't know if we're supporting the right things.
How would changing subsidies to encourage healthy eating work?
There's plenty of noise out there about limiting the soft drinks you can purchase—but let's actually incentivize people to do the right thing, which you typically do with price. It's very easy to demonize somebody for making that decision, but you need to look at it from a different angle.
Who are you looking forward to having on your shows?
Everybody eats. Everybody likes to talk about food. I hope it's an opportunity to bring around people from both sides of the aisle, rather than just talking past each other.
Does the new job help you as a businessman and a chef, as well?
Obviously as my profile is raised, it helps the business, but that's not why I'm doing this. I'm trying to keep media and restaurants separate. Anthony [Bourdain] does a tremendous job at CNN, but it's a different show. I think shows like that pave the way for a deeper understanding of food, and I'm really thrilled that MSNBC has taken on this role. They're very forward-thinking. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't somewhat nervous.