Chris Schulz is the deputy head of entertainment for the New Zealand Herald.

Vaughan Smith and Josh Thomson's different take on food TV

Vaughan Smith and Josh Thomson are redefining the term 'snackable content' with their new food show, Critic and the Pig. They talk to Chris Schulz.
Vaughan Smith and Josh Thomson from WatchMe show Critic and the Pig.
Vaughan Smith and Josh Thomson from WatchMe show Critic and the Pig.

Josh Thomson has a childhood food story so gross it almost makes Vaughan Smith choke on a bacon roll.

"Dad made me a steak that was just muscle, red blood. We had ice cream and he served it in the same dish as the barely cooked steak."

As Smith starts snorting, nearly spitting bacon bits over Depot's wooden tables, Thomson finishes his story: "We had ice cream and steak juice for pudding."

Critic and the Pig, Thomson and Smith's new food show streaming now on, dines out on personal stories like that, with each eight-minute episode giving new meaning to the term "snackable content".

Smith, a popular morning radio DJ on ZM, and Thomson, a 7 Days comic and familiar TV face from shows like Hounds and Late Night Big Breakfast, are filmed as they pose as foodies reviewing Auckland's top eateries.

Over three episodes now, they've dined at Gusto, Cibo, and Deco, awarding them stars - or "trotters" - out of five.

Smith is the "critic" in the show's title, dispensing information about the dishes they're eating and educating his "pig" - Thomson - on table manners and dining etiquette.

Though there is plenty of discussion about the dishes in front of them, the pair often veer hilariously off-course, discussing "depressing one-person crock pots", debating whether it's okay to drink leftover rum straight out of the pudding bowl (Thomson says yes, Smith says no), and which type of fish either of them might agree to marry.

The show is, admits Smith, just a ruse to get free food and they've had no problems persuading restaurants to take part. "We're getting two free feeds out of each restaurant," he says. "I have to go to learn about the food, so I can be knowledgeable about it. Then we go back and film. I'm double dipping. Maybe I should be the pig."

But as the pair's easy-going banter over coffee and bacon rolls shows, their humour isn't forced. They've been friends from 7 Days for years, and the joke underlying the Critic and the Pig premise is that neither Smith or Thomson are worthy of being food critics.

Both grew up on farms, with a staple diet of overcooked home kill.

Thomson: "The worst was when dad roasted a venison, then pulled a strip of skin and hair off. He'd say, 'It's just like crackling. Eat it'," wincing at the memory.

Smith: "My mum still cooks the odd microwave chicken. She'll put a frozen chicken into a plastic bag in the morning and hang it on the washing line (to defrost) ... At 4pm she'll chuck it in the microwave and by 5.30pm we'll have a roast chicken. It's a little chewy."

But they do love food. Thomson's favourite meal stems from a trip to Japan when he fell in love with "skewers and beer", while Smith loves cooking outdoors and is a keen smoker of meats.

And the show is proving popular, with Thomson recently being recognised while walking down the street.

"A woman stopped me and said, 'Hey, you're the pig eh? It's the pig, look, it's the pig!'

"I guess I appreciated it."

What: Food show Critic and the Pig
Where and when: Streaming now on

- TimeOut

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