Food is great, but not only necessary for our survival. It makes for great television as well. Few people proved that more than Anthony Bourdain, who with his series Parts Unknown showed just how captivating a series about a man traveling the world and eating good food can be. Those that missed the initial ride can still binge his series on Netflix in addition to some other great cooking shows.
Some are serious, others silly, and all feature mostly edible food. There's definitely one on the list where edibility could be an issue, but the rest feature some truly mouth-watering dishes that would make even the most stringent food critic smile. Be warned, bingeing these shows may lead to increased appetites, but luckily, some of these may spark a few Netflix subscribers to whip up some delicious meals of their own.
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
It's hard to watch Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown and not immediately fantasize about some trip to a faraway land to experience what he's in. No doubt Bourdain's passion and willingness to get out of his comfort zone play a big part in that, as he makes the most exotic locales look as comfortable as the grocery store down the block from the viewer's home. It's definitely the gold standard for food and travel shows, and few shows that follow will ever effectively measure up to its greatness.
Cooking is an art form, and can be hard to master. It's probably one of the reasons we celebrate it, and why a show like Nailed It! has been one of Netflix's more popular cooking shows. Nicole Byer has showed us just how difficult skillful cooking is by putting amateurs up against each other to create Instragram-worthy treats. It's great when folks succeed, and even better when they fail. That's not something one typically likes to see in competition cooking shows but Nailied It! is lighthearted enough to make it fun for everyone involved.
The Chef Show
The Chef Show is very different in execution to Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, but the passion is still there. Famed director (and showrunner of The Mandalorian) Jon Favreau's passion for food showed in his movie Chef, and that passion continues in The Chef Show. That's thanks in large part to his reuniting with chef Roy Choi for the cooking show, and the way Favraeu works in some of his favorite Marvel actors for great conversation and some great cooking.
Those that are fans of Anthony Bourdain should definitely get into David Chang, who has collaborated with Bourdain on The Mind of a Chef. Chang has a couple of great cooking shows on Netflix, such as Ugly Delicious, which explores a single dish in various forms. A viewer can see how tacos are made from scratch in Mexico, and then see it done in the Netherlands in an entirely different way. It's a great reminder that, sometimes, one doesn't always have to travel to their favorite country to experience their favorite meal.
The Great British Baking Show
Fans of cooking shows that haven't taken the time to get into The Great British Baking Show are truly missing out. This is the place where people who are tired of the cutthroat cooking competitions go to see people who genuinely love cooking compete while having fun. The hosts are always quick to the punch, and did we mention there's a ton of content on Netflix to binge? This show has many spinoffs available to stream, and they're all good. Dive in, and throw all misconceptions about the Brits being bad cooks out the window.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
This is another cooking show by chef David Chang, and it doesn't take long to see the Anthony Bourdain influence in Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner. Chang travels with a celebrity to his or her favorite city, and they unravel the best meals and culture of the area. It's also just fun to see celebrities out and enjoying themselves, even if they may still be performing for the camera just a bit.
Somebody Feed Phil
Somebody Feed Phil is like if Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown was hosted by a neurotic guy who blissfully strolls from country to country in search of good food. The cooking show is hosted by Philip Rosenthal, who is the creator of the former CBS sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond. It won't take viewers long to see how the creator thought up the character, as Rosenthal is to Ray like Larry David is to George Costanza, and it's a marvelous thing to see on camera.
Six seasons in, and Chef's Table is still one of the best cooking shows on Netflix. For those that haven't gotten the chance to binge it yet, this cinematic series puts the focus of each episode on the chef's and the lives they've made for themselves as cooks. It's one of those shows that will make anyone want to give it all up and learn how to cook like a gourmet chef. Then reality sets in midway into burning a grilled cheese sandwich, but at least we have this show to live out impossible dreams.
Salt Fat Acid Heat
Salt Fat Acid Heat may not be the catchiest name for a cooking show, but it's a handy way of remembering all the elements that make for delicious food. The four-part series revolves around each of these elements individually, and is hosted by James Beard Award recipient Samin Nosrat. For those searching for a show less about actual recipes, and more about the core of what makes food so great, this is the perfect option.
Chinese food is delicious, but for many Americans, the art of making it is shrouded in mystery. Flavorful Origins seeks to de-mystify the mystery and break down a litany of dishes that fine diners know and love. Just as a heads up, the series is in Mandarin, so anyone not fluent will likely have to use subtitles. The good news is the food looks delicious and there's no subtitles needed to enjoy that.
The Final Table
Chefs from around the world meet on one show to compete for the honor of being in The Final Table. Several teams of two work collaboratively to advance to the next round by recreating the dishes of other countries, only to go head to head in the finale for a coveted spot on "the final table" among legendary chefs from around the world. This cooking show is for the folks who don't just enjoy seeing chefs get to work, but live for that competitive show format.
Based on the book by Michael Pollan, Cooked features the author exploring the art of cooking, and what we gain as a culture throughout the process. This is a cooking show that speaks directly to the family that may have more meals out than in every week, and shows how even the simplest meals can bring people together and create a meaningful connection to our lives. It's thought-provoking, and will definitely make a viewer at least think about making more meaningful food choices than going for what's easiest.
Lots of cooking show competitions are different in execution but the general gameplay format is the same. People make a dish in a pre-determined amount of time, judges reveal which was the least impressive dish, that person gets eliminated. Sugar Rush has a similar premise, except contestants must gamble with their time and hope they don't spend too long or too little on their first two dishes. The trick is to advance to the final round with the most time possible, which is a huge advantage to the team building the final cake. Come for the interesting twist, but stay for the amazing treats this show routinely rolls out.
Million Pound Menu
Not everyone can be Anthony Bourdain, so it's good shows like Million Pound Menu exist to bring the most unique food ideas to people who don't travel as much. This cooking show (which definitely needs an American adaptation, by the way) is like Shark Tank, but in a way more hands-on way. Chefs put their restaurant ideas to the test in a small market, and then it's on investors to decide whether or not this concept is worthy of a massive deal.
Cooking meals for a group of people is one thing, but cooking for a horde is quite another. Mega Food dives into the kitchens of massive operations where the chefs are tasked with feeding anywhere from hundreds to thousands of people in a relatively short amount of time. For those that want a cooking show to see how innovation and efficiency help chefs still maintain quality standards that result in great cooking, this is the show to watch.
As mentioned above, all of these cooking shows are available to stream on Netflix. Binge them all on the streaming service, and continue to stick with CinemaBlend to stay on top of all the latest and greatest news in movies and television.