Michael Ginor's got a resumé as long as the Mekong River: Current chef-owner of Lola, founding chef-owner of Tel Aviv (both in Great Neck), co-owner of Hudson Valley Foie Gras (the country's leading duck-liver producer), former Wall Street exec and captain in the Israeli Defense Forces.
He's also a big-time culinary macher who organizes international tours for chefs. That's how he fell in love with Thailand some years ago, and he's returned dozens of times since.
This hourlong show is a potential pilot for a series that will take Ginor all over the world. In Thailand, Ginor travels from Bangkok, the capital in the South, to the poor, little-visited region of Isaan in the Northeast. Along the way, he samples the most plebeian street food and the most refined palace cuisine. He dines on river boats and at Bangkok's most controversial new restaurant (the chef is Australian). He visits a shrimp farm, a fish-sauce producer and a hot-sauce producer.
Thailand has one of the world's great cuisines, and "Runaway Chef" shows it in all its glory; the show is beautifully produced, and the food videography is particularly mouthwatering.
Ginor is a distinctly charming eater: embracing - and swallowing - new foods with evident gusto. He presents himself as a knowledgeable fan but not an expert, and in fact one of the show's strengths is the team of Thai culinary luminaries who guide him, among them Suthat "Tony" Charnvises, "royal caterer" (and former contestant on Asia's "Biggest Loser"), American expat blogger Austin Bush, Australian chef David Thompson and iconic Thai culinary chef-scholar Ian Kittichai.
There's enough material in this breathlessly fascinating hour for at least four more tightly focused programs. If the series gets picked up, I hope that it slows down.