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'The Katering Show' Reflects The Plight Of Food Intolerance


Good news for the food intolerant and their best friends - there's now an online cooking show to help you cope.


KATE MCCARTNEY: I'm Kate McCartney.

KATE MCLENNAN: I'm Kate McLennan.

MCCARTNEY: We're unstable.

MCLENNAN: Welcome to "The Katering Show."

SIEGEL: Yes, the hosts of "The Katering Show," spelled with a K are both named Kate. And whether they're both unstable or not is not for us to say. What is clear is that the two Kates are charming and funny Australian women, and on their program, they take cooking to places few have ventured.


MCLENNAN: These days, food isn't about how it tastes. It's about impressing people on social media with how it looks. It's about decanting some soft drink into a mustard jar wrapped in weeds and shoelaces.

MCCARTNEY: It's about set dressing your food so it looks like you work for Gourmet Traveller - but you don't, do you? And so you take your photo of your duck eggs (ph) and then you just sit there, tracking your ASOS order and waiting for 11 likes that never come.

SIEGEL: Joining us from Melbourne, Australia are Kate and Kate.

Welcome to the program.

MCLENNAN: Thanks for having us.

MCCARTNEY: Thank you.

SIEGEL: I certainly enjoyed your program. Explain to us the need for another cooking show.

MCLENNAN: Well, we thought there needed to be a cooking show that reflected the plight of the people with food intolerances because McCartney, you have quite the ream of intolerances, don't you?

MCCARTNEY: Yes, thank you. Yes, I do. I'm glucose - not glucose - I'm lactose, fructose and gluten intolerant, plus just a carousel of other things that I can't eat that are completely unrelated to one another.

MCLENNAN: We thought also the idea of doing a cooking show that kind of took the mickey out of different food trends as well would, you know, be quite appealing to us.


MCLENNAN: We used to think that food intolerances were the purview of attention-seekers.

MCCARTNEY: Or people who just wanted to jazz-up their eating disorders.

MCLENNAN: But we were wrong.

MCCARTNEY: It turns out I too am intolerant to many foods - bread, garlic, onion.

MCLENNAN: Cream, cheese, cream-cheese.

SIEGEL: I have to say that, just in theory, the idea of food intolerance as being the stuff of comedy isn't unnatural, but it's hilarious in your program.


MCLENNAN: Well, we naturally have these point of difference, the two of us, you know? I legitimately am quite obsessed with food and I do love cooking, and so when McCartney was diagnosed with all these intolerances, I found it incredibly frustrating. And I was constantly asking her, you know, so can you eat zucchinis? Can you eat - like, what kind of cheese? So you can eat parmesan but you can't eat brie - like, what's the deal with that? And just constantly interrogating her about her food intolerances.

MCCARTNEY: And then you just gave up.

MCLENNAN: I gave up. But there was a moment where I thought, I can solve these problems for you, I can teach you how to cook. And that's kind of where the idea for the show came about.


MCCARTNEY: So I'm just going to cook with some celery and some carrot. It'll taste like baby food, but, you know...

SIEGEL: Now, one of the charming features of "The Katering Show" is that, Kate McCartney, you have less trouble with alcohol than you do with food.

MCCARTNEY: Yes, thank you. That's true.

SIEGEL: And I gather that's a saving grace.



MCCARTNEY: Thanks to my guts, I can't drink beer, wine, cider or Bailey's Irish Cream, which is a genuine tragedy. But, tequila is intolerant-friendly, even though drinking it will make you intolerable to every single person around you. If margaritas are the best drink in the world - which they are - frozen margaritas cut through space and time. They're best enjoyed at a Mexican chain restaurant as you drunkenly refuse a free sombrero.

SIEGEL: (Laughter). And this is true, actually. You're not making this up for the...

MCCARTNEY: No, no, no. I believe that more firmly than I think I've ever believed anything - how good frozen margaritas are.

SIEGEL: Now, have the two of you caught any flack from, you know, whatever it is - the Australian Federation for Food Intolerances or whatever, for gross insensitivity? Is that right?

MCCARTNEY: No, I think actually it's been quite heartwarming how people have responded to it.

MCLENNAN: Lots of people have contacted you on Twitter and expressed their, you know, similar intolerances that they might have as well.

MCCARTNEY: Food intolerances do make you quite antisocial. Like, I used to go to a dinner club with McLennan and after a while they just stopped inviting me because I was bringing everyone down.

MCLENNAN: You found your people.

MCCARTNEY: I found my people. I have, it's really nice.

MCLENNAN: And the people have found you.


SIEGEL: Now, there's one episode also where after coping with all of the problems of food intolerances, you also attempt to eat ethically. I want you to describe that challenge.

MCLENNAN: Yeah. Well, we set our self the task of eating in an ethical and sustainable way. So, thinking about the life that the animal had before it came to be on our plate.


MCLENNAN: So today, we're going to cook some meat. But not just any meat - some native meat. Now, we could use this beautiful, ethical and sustainable possum. Or perhaps this wallaby, which probably had a really nice life before a suicidal farmer shot it through the skull with a 12-gauge shotgun.

MCCARTNEY: Look, to be honest, as an ex-vegetarian, I feel really, really weird about eating meat. So I sort of want to be as thoughtful about this process as possible. And ethically speaking, possums and wallabies are very, very cute so I'm not going to eat them.

MCLENNAN: Right, OK. So what meat are we going to use?

MCCARTNEY: Let's do the kangaroo.


MCCARTNEY: They know what they did.

SIEGEL: Kate McCartney, you have explained the extent to which the food intolerances are real. Kate McLennan, is the foodie part - is that real life for you, as well?

MCLENNAN: It kind of is. I'm a bit obsessed. I do find cooking to be this nice circuit breaker. It's a great way to just run away from everyone, as well, so you don't actually have to speak to anyone.

MCCARTNEY: Yeah. I combat that by just not having any friends.



SIEGEL: Now, you just explained, before the cooking show, you both have had careers in Australian television. Do I have that right?

MCCARTNEY: Yeah. I've mainly been a comedy writer, and McLennan's a stand-up and a legitimate actor. You legitimately studied acting, whereas I just make the same face in every single scene I'm in.

MCLENNAN: And we've had varying degrees of success with our television careers, as well.


MCLENNAN: We've both been involved in a lot of Australian sketch comedy shows that have been axed after a few episodes. I in particular have this bad luck charm, I think, for network television. And so that was, I guess, the beauty of doing something online and having all of that creative control. We could put something online and know that it wasn't going to get pulled off the air after two episodes. (Laughter).


SIEGEL: But do you assume that there's a step when this goes to television or - I mean, have you been asked about it by now? I assume you have. It's been successful enough.

MCLENNAN: Yeah, we've had - we've had a little bit of interest, which has kind of forced us to have that conversation about what we do want to do next with it because we could get carried away and go, yeah let's do a half-hour, you know, eight half-hour episodes and, you know, someone even mentioned a movie. And you kind of - but then there's something really special about just doing these little seven-minute episodes. And they are kind of contained in the kitchen environment. If we expanded it out then the world would have to expand as well. And we just think that there's something still there to explore in the idea of doing the seven-minute episodes.

MCCARTNEY: Yeah and it's lovely not to have network executives over our heads. It's lovely to have that really instant connection with the audience.


MCLENNAN: We all want to live forever and the best way to live forever is to quit sugar. So on today's episode, we're going sugar-free.

SIEGEL: Well, Kate McCartney and Kate McLennan of "The Katering Show," thank you very much for talking with us.

MCCARTNEY: Thank you so much, Robert.

MCLENNAN: Thank you.


MCLENNAN: This show is all about me and how I can cook delicious recipes that won't make McCartney [expletive] her pants.

MCCARTNEY: But food isn't just about not [expletive] your pants, it's also about happiness.

MCLENNAN: It's about health.

MCCARTNEY: It's about controlling your life expectancy through what you put in your body so that you never die unexpectedly on a toilet. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.