Michael McKean is the first to admit he’s an unlikely choice to host a Cooking Channel show.
“I don’t belong in the kitchen except as a taster,” he says. “Fortunately I have a house full of baking ladies who know that a man is never too old to lick cake batter off a mixer blade.”
No culinary skills were required of McKean, however, to serve as host of Food: Fact or Fiction? The six-episode series premieres at 9:30 p.m. Monday.
New Cooking Channel show explores questions like whether chicken soup helps cure a cold or coffee stunts growth — revealing which of our favorite “food facts” might be “food myths.”
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The actor, whose career includes scene-stealing performances in This Is Spinal Tap and Laverne & Shirley, simply shows up to give Cooking Channel viewers some intriguing information.
The show sets the record straight about food-related myths that won’t die.
Can chicken soup actually help cure a cold? Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? Are french fries really French?
It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. (Speaking of which, Food: Fact or Fiction? also explores whether coffee really stunts growth, as many parents have told their kids.)
We chewed the fat with McKean last week about the new series. Here are some excerpts from the conversation:
The premise is so simple yet so genius. How did you become part of the show?
My participation began when the creative team behind the show came to me with a premise that I responded to this way: ‘I would watch that!’
I’m not a foodie, necessarily, but I’ve always noticed how many things we accept as fact turn out to be either completely wrong or at least very different under historical examination.
I’m out to get at the truth. And eat it, too.
I don’t belong in the kitchen except as a taster. Fortunately I have a house full of baking ladies who know that a man is never too old to lick cake batter off a mixer blade.
Michael McKean, host of ‘Food: Fact or Fiction?’
Of the various food-related myth-busting revelations, do you have a favorite?
I was shocked — shocked! — to know that the bananas we eat today, mostly the petite Cavendish, won its place as, well, top banana due to a plant disease wiping out all of Panama’s Gros Michel variety. The so-called Big Mike blinked first and lost the export edge.
Pretty much every episode contains two or three revelations your humble host was completely unaware of.
Aside from your aforementioned talent as a cake-batter eater, what else are you good at in the kitchen?
I make a decent marinara. But it’s easier to let my wife make a more decent one while I play the guitar.
If a deli were to honor you by adding a “Michael McKean” to the menu, what ingredients would go into that sandwich?
Turkey pastrami and Havarti cheese on corn rye with classic yellow mustard, root beer back.
A friend had a burger at his restaurant, with Dijon mustard and plum jam on toasted English muffin. I told him I liked it and he said he’d name it for me. The restaurant closed shortly thereafter. The end.
What do you most hope viewers will get out of watching the show?
I got a little smarter doing the show. I found that my timeline estimates were way off: Things that I thought were rather new had been around for centuries. And conversely, food traditions I saw as ancient history were fairly modern.
The commercial food innovations of the 20th century — processing, packaging, promotion — happened largely on my watch as a kid who watched a lot of television. It was great fun exploring this fascinating field.
Food: Fact or Fiction?
- 9:30 p.m. Monday
- Cooking Channel