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The Five Spot: Michael Rucker, Executive Producer, truTV’s ‘Fast Foodies’

Michael Rucker
‘Fast Foodies’ executive producer Michael Rucker (Image credit: truTV)

Fast Foodies is an engaging, low-stakes kitchen competition show finishing its first season on truTV on Thursday, April 15. Three accomplished chefs — Kristen Kish, Jeremy Ford and Justin Sutherland — recreate favorite fast-food fare brought in by celebrity guests such as Joel McHale, Bobby Lee and Fortune Feimster. Later they take the essence of, say, a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin and create new dishes in hopes of winning the Chompionship Trophy. Guests like Andy Richter and Ron Funches help make it fun, joining in in the kitchen and sharing the mayhem. Executive producer and showrunner Michael Rucker’s credits include Project Runway, Top Chef Masters and Last Comic Standing. He knows his craft and served up a series that’s tasty and, in his words, “totally real.” He chatted with Kent Gibbons.  

BONUS FIVE

What shows are on your watch list? Fast Foodies (natch), Björnstad (Beartown), High Fidelity (rewatching the near-perfect season — shame on Hulu for canceling this), Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
What is your all-time favorite show? Cheers, The Wire, Pardon the Interruption (the best TV format created in the past 20 years), My So-Called Life.
What apps do you use the most? UCLA Mindful Meditation App, Instagram.
Favorite podcast? How Did This Get Made?, Prince: Official Podcast, The Bill Simmons Podcast
Where would you like to visit on vacation? At this point in the pandemic, anywhere would be nice. Outside of seeing family, New Zealand, Japan, Sweden and returning to Africa are on the top of the list. 

What about this concept drew you in at the beginning? What drew me in was the fact that it was three chefs of a caliber that I respected, chefs who have their own restaurants, they weren’t amateur chefs, and they all had a personal connection to fast food. I really liked that fact that we were going to build the show where it was going to be entertaining and fun, but with some little notes of education about how some of this stuff is actually made. Also, I really like the fact that the food was very inclusive.

Did you learn anything surprising about these fast-food dishes? I did. I learned a lot from the chefs’ respect level for actual fast food chains — how difficult it actually is to repeat dishes over and over and over again. And some of these flavor combinations are iconic, because they are really rooted in a lot of classical food combinations.

Are you a fast food fan yourself? I am. When I first moved to Los Angeles, I found Baja Fresh, and I was just like, this is amazing. Coming from Minnesota, there’s not great Mexican restaurants, besides, like, Taco Bell and Taco John’s, which I believe is only a Minnesota thing. But I’m definitely a fan.

If you were going to be a guest on the show, what dish would you bring in? Obviously having produced all of these and us hoping for a season two, I’m thinking about what I would actually bring. I really started thinking about this and I haven’t had one for years, but I’m sort of like, ‘I want to have one,’ is an Arby’s roast beef sandwich with the horsey sauce and their barbecue sauce. I’d do both sauces. There’s something about the bun. And they actually also have amazing fries. I love their fries. 

Did you have a favorite episode? I have favorite moments in every single episode, but I enjoyed a lot of the chaos of Bobby Lee. We knew that he was going to do the throwing the egg [to the chefs], and they had to answer questions, but we didn’t know what he was going to ask. And then the chaos of cooking, like that [stove-top] fire really did happen, that was not planned. It was shocking and it was hilarious. Those are things that happen in the kitchen.