By Zach Goins
July 12, 2019
One of the best things about television is its ability to take you to places you’d never imagine seeing. Some shows can transport you to fantasy worlds with dragons and monsters, while others can put you in the shoes of the president. It can literally take you anywhere.
Sometimes, though, it’s something a bit more simple, like showing you the world’s most delicious tacos or a steaming bowl of ramen. If traveling the world and eating these dishes isn’t an option, you can at least stretch out on the couch and daydream about chowing down. One of these shows might even inspire you to try and whip up something yummy in your own kitchen.
Whether you’re looking for some good ol’ home cooking, traditional foreign delicacies, or the most exquisite Michelin-star cuisine, Netflix has you covered. But beware, binge watching may lead to binge eating.
The Chef Show
After writing, starring and directing 2014’s Chef, Jon Favreau decided it was time to do it for real. In the movie, Favreau plays a famous chef who quits his restaurant job to open a food truck with his son. During filming, Favreau learned recipes from restaurateur Roy Choi, and now the two are traveling the country recreating these dishes and exploring the best restaurants and food trucks. Each episode features Favreau, Choi and some special guests like comedian Bill Burr or Marvel stars Tom Holland and Robert Downey Jr.
Back before Netflix was flooded with original documentaries, Chef’s Table helped pave the way. From the director of the critical darling Jiro Dreams of Sushi, this docuseries profiles a different professional chef each episode, breaking down each one’s unique menu and signature style. From Los Angeles to Calcutta, Chef’s Table takes you around the world through delicious dishes.
If fancy restaurants aren’t quite your speed, then this is the show for you. Dive right into the streets of some of Asia’s biggest markets and explore the continent’s most beloved dishes. Nine episodes highlight nine countries, each sharing the rich cultural histories behind every new dish. You definitely do not want to watch this one on an empty stomach or else you might find yourself checking the cost of a plane ticket to Asia.
Gordon Ramsay may be a stickler for plating, but not David Chang. If you couldn’t tell by the title, Chang doesn’t care what it looks like, as long as it’s got flavor. Instead of each episode focusing on a location or a chef, these episodes all center around a dish, and Chang takes viewers around the world to find out where it tastes the best. Plus, special guests like Ali Wong and Jimmy Kimmel stop by to weigh in, too.
Salt Fat Acid Heat
Chef Samin Nosrat believes in four basic elements at the heart of every dish: salt, fat, acid and heat. After the success of her book by the same name, Netflix turned it into a four-episode docuseries, where each episode focuses on a different one of the core fundamentals. Hosted by Nosrat, Salt Fat Acid Heat immerses the chef into various countries as she explores how each culture uses the same elements to produce vastly different results.
Ever wondered about the science behind cooking? Cooked takes a look at the four elements – fire, water, air and earth – and how they impact food and the human body. Whether it’s explaining how bacteria is helpful to some food and harmful to others, or looking at how cooking methods have shaped our digestive systems, you’re sure to learn something new. If you’re still intrigued even after the four-episode mini series ends, check out the book it’s based on, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation.
The Final Table
For those food fans out there looking to get competitive, check out The Final Table. Featuring 12 teams of two, each episode challenges professional chefs to create masterpiece dishes from a certain cuisine. The episodes start with the judges asking contestants to cook a particular dish, and the bottom three teams are then forced to compete in an elimination challenge using special ingredients. If all these relaxing food shows aren’t cutting it, try mixing a little reality TV into the recipe.
Somebody Feed Phil
In this 12-episode docuseries, Phil Rosenthal, the creator of Everybody Loves Raymond, tastes his way around the world. Without any professional background in cooking or the restaurant industry, Rosenthal may seem like a strange pick for a food show, but that’s exactly why it works. He’s just like everyone else – a guy who really loves food. If he can do it, why can’t you?
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
What better way to see the world than by discovering all the best foods it has to offer? Hosted by the late chef Anthony Bourdain, the 12-season series explores every corner of the world, not just the exotic faraway locations. Whether it’s the streets of Pittsburgh, the country roads of West Virginia or the canals of Italy, you can count on Bourdain to find the tastiest dishes. Coming in at around 40 minutes, each episode examines more than just food, diving into culture, politics and history.
The Great British Baking Show
Looking for something sweet? You’re sure to find it here. With four different variations of the show and multiple seasons of each, there are plenty of cupcakes, tarts and pies to satisfy your craving. Each episode pits amateur bakers against each other in three challenges where they show off their signature dishes, technical knowledge and talent. The show is treated almost like religion in the United Kingdom and it’s certainly valued in the U.S., too.
Mind of a Chef
If just a single episode isn’t enough time for you to fully appreciate a chef’s culinary flair, how about spending a whole season getting to know their philosophies? Narrated by Anthony Bourdain, Mind of a Chef doesn’t stick to any particular recipe when it comes to its episodes. Whether it’s focusing on a dish, a cuisine, a location, or simply an idea like “fresh,” each installment has its own flavor. Add in celebrity chefs like David Chang (Season One) and Edward Lee (Season Three) and there are sure to be plenty of different styles to enjoy.