Netflix has done an admirable job of securing great cooking shows for their library, but in recent years with its ever-expanding original lineup, they’ve produced some exceptional food and cooking programming of their own. From travel based productions to cooking competitions, they have a show that suits whatever you’re in the mood for. In fact, they’ve gotten so good at it they have even won a James Beard award.
We’ve picked some highlights out of the Netflix Original lineup that you should definitely make room for. Whether you’re in the mood for a mouthwatering entree or an intricate pastry, there is something for everyone. You may want to grab a snack to have while reading.
5. Zumbo’s Just Desserts
If you’re a fan of The Great British Bake-Off (and frankly, I don’t understand how anyone could not be) then you should give this show a look. While it’s a competition based show, it’s not a boisterous, frenetic atmosphere like, say, an Iron Chef type show. 12 skilled home-cooks compete in challenges over several weeks, judged by Adrianao Zumbo and Rachel Khoo.
Adrianao Zumbo is a celebrated Australian patissier who has authored several cookbooks and has a number of his own stores. He was also on MasterChef Australia. Co-host Rachel Khoo received a pastry degree at Le Cordon Bleu and has written a few cookbooks of her own.
The contestants must all compete against each other initially, then the two with the weakest dishes must compete to recreate one of Zumbo’s creations. The desserts are incredibly intricate and it’s interesting to see the cooks try to master it with no sort of recipe. It’s worth watching them compete until it gets narrowed down just to see the crazy confections Zumbo presents. They are positively dazzling.
This four-episode show is based on the book of Award-winning food writer Michael Pollan. While he has written several best-selling books, you may recognize him from shows like Real Time with Bill Maher, The Colbert Report, and the 2008 documentary Food Inc. He’s also the guy that says all these people claiming they have gluten allergies are ridiculous, which I sort of love him for.
Each episode of the show is based on an element (earth, air, water, fire) and its relationship to both ancient and modern cooking methods. The idea is to look at the evolution of what food means to us through the history of food preparation and its universal ability to connect us. Even though we may not cook every day, it’s still a part of our lives and we have a primal need to do so. We need to reconnect with that part of us and in doing so connect with ourselves, each other, and even the world. Every episode features Pollan in his home kitchen in Berkeley, California as well as traveling to places around the world.
“Surrounded as we are by fast food culture and processed foods, cooking our own meals is the single best thing we can do to take charge of our health and well being.”
3. Ugly Delicious
Ugly Delicious is a fun show. James Beard Award-winning chef David Chang travels the globe with his friends for episodes that look at the cultural, sociological, and culinary history of a specific popular food like pizza, tacos, barbecue and fried chicken. Each episode highlights one dish or concept and explores how it is made in different regions and how it has evolved.
Something that can be a particular turnoff with food shows is the certain amount of snobbery that goes along with them. Here that is stripped away. And the guests include the likes of Jimmy Kimmel, Nick Kroll, Azia Ansari, and Ali Wong. This show proves some of the best food is ‘ugly’ and can be a whole lot of fun.
2. Somebody Feed Phil
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I kinda wish Phil Rosenthal was my best friend. I’ve been a fan for a long time and have enjoyed this show since its beginnings on PBS. The creator of Everybody Loves Raymond, he seems to know just about everyone and loves having his celeb friends on the show along with his charming family.
His wide-eyed enthusiasm for friends and food is quite infectious. He travels the world introducing us to different region’s local flavor, people, and culture in a most relatable way. Rosenthal himself isn’t a gourmand. Just a nice guy that loves great food and sharing it.
“I’m hoping people watch me and say, ‘If that putz can [do it], maybe I can, too.'”
Netflix just announced another season for this great show and I can’t wait to see it. This round sees him heading to Venice, Dublin, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Capetown and New York. All episodes will premiere globally July 6.
1. Chef’s Table
This award-winning program is Netflix’s flagship food show and with good reason. It’s absolutely exquisite. This show is so beautiful sometimes it’s hard to believe it’s about food. It’s art. Each season of the acclaimed series follows different chefs from around the world, showing you, sometimes quite literally, how the sausage gets made.
If one show is not enough to get your juices going, you can also tune into Chef’s Table France and Chef’s Table Pastry. Both are just as stunning.