Binging cooking shows on Netflix. Yes, you can do it anytime of year, but there’s something especially satisfying about doing it bundled up in your comfies on the couch during the mandatory, months-long, anti-social hibernation period that is the winter season. We may be into spring now, but tell Mother Nature that.
And, of course, the bonus hooray for us food-obsessed viewers is that there is tons of compelling culinary content streaming right now. From wanderlusty docuseries and fluffy baking competitions to insightful commentaries on food and culture, these are 11 food and cooking shows we’re devouring on Netflix right now.
A brand-new offering in 2019 that explores street food (aka the often-humble and vibrant dishes that make local dining scenes so special), this docuseries from the “Chef’s Table” team will not only make you hungry for Indonesian market snacks, Japanese takoyaki, and Indian chaat, but for travel to all these enticing places. The first season focuses on nine cities in Asia and spotlights dishes like golden crab omelettes in Bangkok, knife-cut noodles in Seoul, and buffalo stew in Delhi that people wait in line for for hours. More than mere food porn (though it is also very much that), the show introduces us to the people behind these dishes, many of whom have been perfecting their cooking—and sometimes focusing on mastering a single dish—for decades. Watch this and you’ll probably be checking ticket prices for the next flight to Vietnam in no time. In the meanwhile, check out The 10 Dishes from Netflix’s “Street Food” We Want to Eat Right Now.
Based on the award-winning cookbook of the same title, this docuseries chronicles cook and author Samin Nosrat as she deep-dives into four of the essential elements involved in making food taste so damn good. It’s part culinary wanderlust—complete with gorgeously captured shots of far-flung locales and engaging up-close-and-personals with experts—and part friendly, approachable cooking show. What I love (aside from the envy-inducing travel porn that’ll make you want to jump up off the couch and cash in your credit card points), is that the cooking show bit is so relaxed and broadly helpful. Instead of being presented with a formulaic one-off recipe, you’re given foundational, reusable advice on cooking philosophy. I.e., “This is why you want to season different components of a dish individually,” vs. “Add two cups of salt to the water.” It’s fun, and you will leave hungry, and hungry for more.
Finally! A show about a foodie and his international culinary exploits that doesn’t make you want punch said person in the face. Quite the opposite, in fact. Originally aired on PBS, this absolutely charming show follows Phil Rosenthal, the writer and creator behind the sitcom “Everybody Loves Raymond,” as he eats and explores his way around the world with wide-eyed, gushing enthusiasm. Obviously, it’s a formula we’ve seen before: Food-obsessed person ventures to a food mecca to dine, drink, take in the culture and hang with the local culinary luminaries. But in this case, the food-obsessed person is not some higher-than-thou snob, but rather a nerdy, average dad type. And watching him totally and genuinely geek out in each hour-long episode makes for some refreshingly fun food TV. (Can you tell I’m a little obsessed?)
Do you follow the chefs behind the world’s top-ranked restaurants the way some people follow players on a favorite sports team? Are you interested in the stories and experiences that have shaped their careers and personalities? Do you crave behind-the-scenes access to their lauded temples of gastronomy? Do you geek for cinematic, porn-y shots of food (that you might never get to try yourself and most likely won’t be able to recreate yourself)? Yeah? Then “Chef’s Table” (and its offshoots “Chef’s Table: France” and “Chef’s Table: Pastry”) will be your jam. It’s the gold standard of culinary escapism meets aspirational chef profile.
Basically, this show is like “Chef’s Table” and “Top Chef” had a baby. The schtick of this “global cooking competition” is that each episode is dedicated to the cuisine of an iconic food country. In the initial round, the chefs have to cook their version of that country’s signature dish, which has been decided by a panel of local “culinary ambassadors” (aka food writers, media personalities, and celebrities). The chefs responsible for the least successful plates are forced to cook in an elimination round for a surprise big-name chef who is briefly profiled “Chef’s Table”-style. And there’s an added twist too: Instead of playing solo, the cheftestants—who come from across the world and are all quite well established in their careers—are participating in teams of two. In most cases they’re friends but have never really worked together, and so watching them navigate each other’s styles and personalities brings an added layer of intrigue to the competition. And unlike some other cheap thrill cooking competitions where the ridiculousness of the ingredients is more important than the actual dish being produced, this show really has you marveling at and learning from the techniques and creativity that the chefs display.
Chefs are constantly being questioned about their inspiration: “Where’d you get the idea for this dish?” “Why did you use that technique?” “How does where you grew up and what you ate affect the food you make today? Inquiring, hungry minds want to know and thankfully we have this smartly put together program to help satiate some of these curiosities. Narrated by the late, great Anthony Bourdain, each season focuses on one or two chefs and explores the many topics that have inspired them and driven their success. For example, noodles and David Chang, preservation and heritage and with Sean Brock, leftovers and “nasty bits” with April Bloomfield. It’s got cooking demos, eating, traveling, learning, cameos from chefie friends—all in all, entertaining brain food to be sure.
I can’t bake, don’t bake, don’t care about learning to bake, and yet even I can’t get enough of this show (also known as GBBS or GBBO to many fans). Legit, it is the most friendly, low-drama cooking competition you’ll ever watch. There are no provocative villain types looking for their 15 minutes of fame. Instead of sabotaging one another, these competitors actually jump in to help each other out and give thumbs-up to their opponents when they have a “good bake” or get an elusive congratulating handshake from Simon Cowell-esque judge, Paul Hollywood. It’s fascinating. Episodes are an hour long and feature three different challenges—”signature bake,” a surprise “technical challenge,” and the “showstopper”—that center around a weekly theme (i.e. bread, pastry, spice, vegan, etc.). “Ready? Set. Binge watch!”
This is the food studies student’s food show. Hosted by best-selling author and activist, Michael Pollan, this sleekly shot four-part docu-series is essentially a heartfelt, motivational speech about the fundamental role of food in our lives and why caring about what you eat really, truly matters. Each episode uses a different core cooking element—fire, earth, water, and air—as a vehicle to discuss everything from food history, culture and tradition to technique and industry. It’s cerebral stuff to be sure, but presented in a way that feels less patronizing lecture and more inspiring rally cry. (It’s worth mentioning also that if this sort of program speaks to you, definitely also check out “Rotten,” which gives a no-holds-barred look inside some of the biggest industrial food production businesses.)
If you like crafty, project-centric baking and watched a lot of “Beetlejuice,” “Addams Family,” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas” as a kid (or still do now, no judgement), then “Curious Creations” is for you. In this unquestionably unconventional take on the conventional how-to baking show, host Christine McConnell, assisted by her charming band of miscreant puppet creatures, displays how to create playfully macabre sweet treats. Even if learning how to sculpt a realistic-looking bone out of peanut butter, white chocolate, and pretzel sticks isn’t your thing, you have to applaud McConnell’s innovation of what can easily feel like a stale show format.
In case you need a reminder of the gift that was Anthony Bourdain’s smart, thought-provoking, and irreverent approach to the intersection of food, travel, and culture, “Parts Unknown” lives on, thankfully.
Ok, ok, so this one is maybe a bit of a cheat because it’s not technically a full show. Still, for anyone who’s curious about the level of detail/stress/work/pressure/multitasking/putting out of fires/absolute general insanity that goes into opening up a restaurant at the highest level, go watch this immediately.
If you do Hulu, we’ve got you covered—see The Best Food Shows on Hulu Right Now (and upcoming New Hulu Food Shows with Chrissy Teigen and David Chang). And check out The Best Food Podcasts too.
All featured products are curated independently by our editors. When you buy something through our retail links, we may receive a commission. For more great hand-picked products, check out the Chowhound Shop
Header image courtesy of PBS.