Over the last two years, I have fallen down the food television rabbit hole too many times to count. It’s just too tempting to escape our scary collective dilemma (a.k.a. the pandemic) and follow Stanley Tucci through the streets of Italy or Phil Rosenthal to Singapore. Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis eating and cooking in Tuscany? Sign me up. Most evenings, any entertainment that isn’t associated with news is my go-to plat du jour.
After I blew through the usual food shows, I recently found myself engrossed in a YouTube series called “Dine N Bash.” The reason: a 6-foot-4 Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman named Sebastian Joseph-Day.
Sebastian, or Bash as his friends like to call him, is an enthusiastic and animated host. His hands are always moving and his Cheshire Cat grin is warm and constant. He’s prone to hearty bursts of laughter. The word he turns to most to describe food is “bussin.”
He launched “Dine N Bash” in 2020 with episodes that take viewers to restaurants in Los Angeles (many of which I’d already visited), into his Haitian parents’ kitchen in Pennsylvania and to his favorite Mexican restaurant he frequented as a college student at Rutgers.
The premise is simple: “There’s a story behind every storefront.” In each episode, Joseph-Day, 26, visits a business and learns about the proprietor. If a restaurant is known for a specific dish, he orders it. Many of the restaurants, cafes and delis he features are in and around SoFi Stadium, where the Rams play their home games. (Joseph-Day, a fourth-year pro, has been injured since late October; it’s unclear whether he will play in the Super Bowl.)
Most of the early episodes start with Joseph-Day sitting at a tidy desk in a studio, talking to the camera. “What’s good everybody? It’s your boy Sebastian Joseph-Day here.”
He’s the kind of host who’s not above wearing a comfy sherpa hoodie for an episode on an Inglewood restaurant called Comfort L.A. or transforming into “Bashy Potter” — complete with Harry Potter glasses, wig and tie — to highlight an episode on the Adventurous Wizard drinks at Nimbus Coffee in downtown L.A.
Over the course of one season and the start of a second, he’s eaten fiery pad krapow with comedian Tim Chantarangsu and chef Jazz Singsanong at Jitlada, sampled hot chicken with Kim Prince at Hotville Chicken and sipped freshly roasted pour-over coffee with Amanda-Jane Thomas and Shanita Nicholas of Sip & Sonder. These are places I’m deeply familiar with, but with each episode I learn something new and come away with a revitalized appreciation for this city and its food.
I recently sat down to share some lasagna and cacio e pepe with Joseph-Day at Inglewood’s Sunday Gravy, the subject of his latest “Dine N Bash” episode, and talk about his journey to becoming your new favorite food host. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
With all the other things you have going on, why start a food show?
“Dine N Bash” came through a bunch of things. Growing up, my mom was a big-time cook. Like my parents cooked … extravagant meals. Both of my parents are from Haiti. They have that Caribbean background in cooking, and both my parents worked in the hotel business. And my dad was able to work with some of the best chefs, and I guess that kind of like lit their fire — and me just being around it, right?
Food has just always been a passion, and food has always been good. It was that and the community. I pride myself on trying to give back and uplift others, and when the pandemic hit, we were like, oh, wow, you know, this is a rough time. How can we find a way to uplift these restaurants and these people who are working so hard?
[In April 2020, Joseph-Day made a $10,000 donation to Rossoblu’s Restaurant Relief fund, which helped provide 250 meals for Cedars-Sinai Medical Center personnel and their families.]
How do you pick the places that youvisit?
I have a producer, best friend of mine, we went to Rutgers together, played football together. What we do is we honestly just look for things that make places unique. We want to highlight the amazing stories of these owners. We just do our research and due diligence. We have to find something that makes them unique, just like Sunday Gravy. Their story is amazing. … And, obviously, the food. I’m a foodie, so it’s got to be good. Like I say, it has to be bussin.
You grew up in a family where food was a big part of things. Did your parents teach you how to cook?
They actually didn’t teach me how to cook. It was me being around my parents so much and seeing my mom do it so much and my dad do it so much, I learned how to pick up things and also just asking questions, right? But can I cook anywhere as near as them? No, not at all. I try to replicate a dish. It was kind of, honestly, like me on a whim just remembering what they did, and I call them and say, hey, like, what did you put in it? Because they don’t measure. Nothing is measured. They cook from love. From their heart.
So you just grew up around really good food?
Since my dad worked in the city and he worked in the hotel business, he was able to change our palate as kids. He would always introduce us to interesting things. It was never just the Caribbean-style Haitian food. It was duck. It was Italian. He always brought something new that he learned.
You’re from Stroudsburg, Pa. Are there certain foods from that area that you really like that you grew up eating?
I would probably say in general, I always found that the pizza out there was fire. Breakfast sandwiches, fire. I’m still trying to find a good breakfast sandwich spot.
Besides that, though, California has some amazing food, for sure. The stories have been amazing. Culture is amazing. It’s weird, like I just feel like I’m part of it now. It’s cool, it’s weird. I never felt so at home far away from home.
Talk to me about what you eat when you’re training. And what does your diet look like in the off-season?
I’m pretty strict about what I eat, and it’s like I always have to have a salad to start off, have some sort of white onion in it or regular onion, chopped up. I‘ll have some avocado in there. Definitely some tomatoes. Then I’ll have, like, quinoa and meat like chicken, fish, sea bass, salmon. I try to stay away from red meat a little bit. Too much red meat causes inflammation. … Sometimes we do a nice brown rice. Every once in a while, though, I’ll have a little cheat day. I’ll have a salad and some wings. Nothing with full butter in it. Like simple teriyaki or barbecue. We bake ’em. I’m super clean about it.
Off-season I’m even stricter. I’m pretty intense about it. … My cheat days are, like, probably the weekends … and then I kind of get back on schedule. During the season I try my best not to cheat at all, just because of the body and inflammation and the stuff you put in it slows down the recovery process.
Ultimate cheat day?
I don’t even know, like a burger. Something good. … I’ll have some sort of ice cream or something like that, nothing crazy, though. A burger. I don’t know. Chocolate cake. I’m a chocolate guy now. I eat anything. Honestly, it’s a cheat day, so I’ll eat anything.
Say you’re going to a Super Bowl party. What are you bringing and what are you eating?
Honestly, I would probably bring some bomb-ass wings. And what I’d eat, what is a weakness of mine? If I saw Doritos, I might have to go crazy. I don’t think I’ve had a Dorito in I don’t know. I can’t remember the last time I had a Dorito. Chips and dip. Buffalo dip. Can’t go wrong with the buffalo dip. Taco dip. My lady makes a mean taco dip. Layered situation. Like ground beef, a little bit of salsa, a little bit of sour cream, cheese, more meat, double on the meat, let it cook under there. Boom, boom. Take it out, top it with some guac and a little lettuce. Boom. It’s lit.
You’ve been here since 2018. Where do you like to eat around town?
Hidden gem. And I want to put them on my show. Royal Egg Cafe in Westlake [Village]. Insane. The breakfast spot. I’m there religiously. They have everything from avocado toast to acai bowls to their famous crispy chicken sandwich. They have it all. … Everything is fresh and organic. You know what you’re putting in your body, and I’m big on that. Another place I go to is probably Nonna in Westlake. It’s a nice Italian spot I like out there. And 101 North. It’s right by Q sushi. Q sushi too. I’m a sushi guy.
What gets a restaurant the Bash stamp of approval?
Three things. Ambience. Huge. I believe vibrations are a huge thing for me. That’s how I live my life too. If I feel the good energy, it’s huge … you got to be comfortable. Obviously, the food is No. 1. Got to be bussin. Food got to be bussin. … Not even the presentation, because there is food that doesn’t look the best but is still great. The story. That’s kind of what “Dine N Bash” is about. The story of the owner and how they came about. I believe, like in the show, there is a story behind every storefront. … Food has always been the catalyst to every important thing in my life with my family and celebrations, even hardships, so I think the story in general of that person connects people, and that’s what gets the stamp of approval.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.