THERE'S not much that Phil Rosenthal hasn’t tried. As the star of hit Netflix show Somebody Feed Phil he has to stay as open minded as possible. But when he saw the iguana on the menu at a restaurant in Oaxaca, Mexico, he decided enough was enough.

“That was when they handed me a bowl full of moving, living beetles and I had to chicken out.”

Rosenthal is in Glasgow for the day to promote Somebody Feed Phil the Book, the “companion piece” to his popular show. “I’ve never had a deep fried mars bar either," he told The National.

READ MORE: Release date for Succession season four revealed as new trailer drops​

In an exclusive interview Rosenthal explained how he came to find his passion for food, what he makes of Scottish cuisine and his hopes to bring his hit show to Scotland.

How did Somebody Feed Phil come to be?

Many will know Rosenthal as the creator of beloved sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, which ran for nine seasons from 1996 to 2005.

For many children across the UK, it will have served as their wake-up call before school as the show was broadcast at 8am on Channel 4 every day.

The inspiration for Somebody Feed Phil, which sees Rosenthal travel the world taking in as much cuisine as he can, lies in an episode of his sitcom.

“I asked Ray Romano (who plays the lead) where he was going for his holiday and he said Jersey Shore because he wasn’t really bothered about going to Europe”, he explained.

Rosenthal continued: “I then wrote an episode about a guy who doesn’t want to go to Italy but then when he gets there he gets woken up and is transformed by the magic of travel and food.

“When I saw that happened to him in real life as well, you just don’t forget that. I thought that my job was to write sitcoms but after Raymond people just didn’t want my sensibility that way anymore so I pursued this dream job.

“I didn’t know if Somebody Feed Phil would last a season. The book is a hybrid of sorts, it’s the companion piece to the show with behind the scenes images, you learn how it came to be and you hear my stories.

"I was known as a writer so to have this second act is beyond my wildest dreams."

The sitcom writer is already months into a worldwide book tour of which Glasgow forms a part, with Rosenthal speaking at the Theatre Royal on January 26.

Rosenthal describes himself as being like if Anthony Bourdain, the late American celebrity chef, was “afraid of everything”.

“I thought maybe there could be a show for a guy like me, who is not a daredevil in anyway.”

He recalls the time his brother, who serves as a producer on the show, forced him into a ferrari in Austin, Texas, at almost 200 miles an hour in an experience he stresses he "would not recommend". 

READ MORE: 'Brexit causes Scotland's arts sector lose out on millions in funding'

How did you first find your love for food?

Rosenthal can recount clear as day the first time he had garlic or, as he called it at the time, “the little white bits” in the pasta he was eating.

Growing up in New York City, he explained, didn’t have a lot of money and so to them the height of culinary art was going to McDonalds every now and then.

“My joke is that I have always loved food but I was not in an environment where this could flourish”, he explained.

READ MORE: All of our polls from our exclusive series this week

His father worked as a tailor before running a children’s clothing store, while his mother was a paralegal secretary.

“It’s amazing I’m alive”, he says, laughing. “I would come home from school; my mum would be working till 5pm and I’d be home at 3.30 so I’d go for cookies and donuts and I wouldn’t eat her dinner.

“Food wasn’t really part of life until I left home and I went to college. I remember going out with other freshmen to a cheap Italian near school and I was just having pasta, it was cheap and it was what we could afford.

“I asked what these little white bits were and it was garlic. Then a few years later I went to Paris and Italy and the top of my head blew off.

“I’ve always loved it but I didn’t know I’d one day have a show about it.”

What does he make of Scottish cuisine?

Although he’s only in Glasgow for 24 hours, Rosenthal says he has previously been to Edinburgh where he was able to take in some of the finest food Scotland has to offer.

He picks up on the age-old problem every Scottish waiter will have of trying to explain exactly what haggis is without putting them off.

“I always tell people if you like food then go to the source, I bet the haggis isn’t as good elsewhere as it is here.

“Once you describe it to someone not from here it could seem … odd. But it was delicious and if it’s prepared well then even more so. I had Scottish smoked salmon this morning and I’m at the source so I love it.”

When it came to a deep fried Mars bar though, Rosenthal decided he had to take everybody’s word for how good it is.

He explained: “I heard I was supposed to have that but then I thought, ‘I’m not a young man anymore’, my pants are tight already in my line of work.

“Everyone here is so beautiful and friendly though. I walked down the street today and people stopped me.

“It’s one thing to be recognised at home [Los Angeles] but another to be recognised elsewhere.”

An episode in Scotland?

There are very few places Rosenthal hasn’t come across during his travels but, when it comes to the show Scotland remains on the bucket list.

“I want to go to the Highlands, Edinburgh is charming, I haven’t seen all of Glasgow yet but I’ve loved what I have seen, I just wish I had more time.”

The proceeds from Rosenthal’s share of the book will go towards a charity which helps people with ALS – a neuromuscular disease which Rosenthal’s mother died from.

‘I don’t want to know how the trick is done’

Among his many interests, Rosenthal is a lover of magic and he equates how he feels about that with his attitude towards food.  

“If I know how the trick is done it’s not magic anymore, it’s almost how I feel about cooking. When something is so outstanding, I really just wonder at how they did it.

READ MORE: Radio 1's Big Weekend set for Dundee return after Covid cancellation

“People say you have a food show and a cookbook but you don’t cook. I meet a lot of great chefs but they can’t write a sitcom so we all contribute in our own way I guess.

“There’s another saying that a sandwich is so much better when it’s made by someone else. If you make it yourself, you know everything in it. I like a surprise.”

Somebody Feed Phil is available to watch on Netflix and his book is out now.