A Taste of Rhode Island is a half-hour documentary television series dedicated to discovering and exploring the world-class food and flavors of the Ocean State. Each episode focuses on a specific region of the state or culinary theme, and each segment story features chef-guided, step-by-step cooking demonstrations of their signature dishes. We’ll visit restaurants, farms, festivals, and get to know the chefs, fishermen, farmers, brewers, and winemakers that are making Rhode Island one of America’s most exciting culinary destinations.
WHAT MAKES RHODE ISLAND SPECIAL
Rhode Islanders do things a little differently, and they’re proud of their history, identity, and culture. But perhaps most of all, Rhode Islanders are proud of their
food, which takes a different twist than the typical dishes of their New England neighbors. Most classic dishes are an amalgamation of Native American, English, Irish, Portuguese, and Italian influences, but Rhode Island puts their own spin on things, and is home to unique things like clear broth chowder, clam cakes, “stuffies” (stuffed clams), pizza strips, Rhode Island style calamari (with hot peppers), and Portuguese-style steamers with chorizo and peppers. Rhode Island is also rich in local ingredients, with unparalleled access to fish and shellfish, an abundance of farms, and an excellent growing climate that provide almost all the ingredients necessary for world-class, distinctly local dishes. While the state is famous for clam-shack style fried seafood and Italian cuisine, there is a renewed push to redefine what authentic Rhode Island food is. Across the state young, creative chefs are creating stunning dishes from ingredients sourced only
from Rhode Island. There is also a growing influence of Latin, Asian, Caribbean, and Middle Eastern flavors and dishes, testament to the state’s tremendous diversity. And of course, the world-class cooking program at Johnson and Wales, in Providence, has ensured a steady supply of highly-trained chefs, who ensure the state enjoys an unusually high proportion of excellent restaurants. As we traverse this dynamic culinary landscape, we explore the classic dishes that draw visitors from all over the world, and also strive to discover the new flavors and techniques that are redefining where Rhode Island cuisine is heading. So join us on a culinary adventure across the Ocean State, right here on A Taste of Rhode Island.
THE PRODUCTION TEAM
A Taste of Rhode Island is entirely produced, filmed, hosted, and edited by the husband-and-wife production team of J.R. and Ali Richards, founders of Wander Media, an independent production company specializing in documentary stories about food and travel. Their work includes the television series The Wine Travelers (2005) which aired on Life TV in the UK and Western Europe; the culinary lifestyle series Back of the House with Charles Mereday (2014) which aired on Fox 4 in the Ft. Myers/Bonita/Naples region; the critically acclaimed documentary film Beer Hunter: The Movie (2013), about the legendary beer and whisky author, Michael Jackson, which has screened at film festivals and theaters around the globe; and a current documentary in production called Whisk(e)y Chasing, about the global whiskey and distilling renaissance.
Both J.R. and Ali are long time veterans of the restaurant industry, and apply this experience to their approach for capturing authentic, organic stories about cooking and food. Ali spent many summers working at some of the best restaurants in Newport, and her longtime friendships with Rhode Island chefs and restaurateurs is the basis for this series. J.R. has worked every single restaurant position in his thirty-plus years in the food service industry, and gave up a restaurant GM position in Aspen, Colorado, to start his own production company back in 2004. Together they have filmed food, wine, and travel stories on every continent except Antartica (although it’s on the radar) and are both avid cooks and explorers of all things culinary. They currently reside in Newport, Rhode Island.