Finest Meals and Cooking Reveals on Netflix Proper Now

When it comes to relaxing content, cooking shows are the creme de la creme of easy-watching feel-good TV. Whether a host is taking you on a tour of essential culinary destinations and uncovering the hidden foodie gems of the world, teaching you the history behind a favorite food you take for granted, or competing in a high-stakes cooking contest for the grand prize, there’s something about food that takes us back to our comfort zone. There’s a reason Food Network’s ratings zoomed upwards following 9/11, when viewers turned to easy entertainment for comfort (a fact Alton Brown eloquently discussed on his all-timer Hot Ones appearance.)

Which makes food TV the perfect watching material for our current trying times, especially while so many of us are doing a bit of nesting in the midst of the ongoing pandemic response. So, whether you’re looking for some feel-good foodie fun to watch on Netflix, want to do some second-hand traveling, or need some inspiration for what to cook tonight, we’ve got you covered with the best food and cooking shows on Netflix right now.

Check out the full list below, and you’re looking for some more easy watching, check out the Best Feel-Good Movies on Netflix, and the Best Shows to Binge-Watch.

chef-jon-favreau-social

Ugly Delicious

ugly-delicious-season-2-david-chang

Image via Netflix

Presented By: David Chang

You’d be hard-pressed to name a celebrity chef with more cultural cache than David Chang right now, and the restauranteur and Momofuku founder brings all that heat to his personality-fueled series Ugly Delicious, which is equal parts travel food doc, culinary history, and reality hangout. Featuring a rotating lineup of familiar guests, including Danny McBride and Stephen Yeun, Chang picks up the mantle of the brash and boisterous travel food show popularized by Anthony Bourdain and travels across the world on a fascinating mission to understand the cultural and historical influences behind humanity’s favorite foods.

Whether he’s trying to understand the universal obsession with tacos, investigating how New Orleans’ obsession with tradition keeps their food scene stagnant, or in the series most powerful episode yet, processing the birth of his firstborn in an episode focused on kids’ food, Chang makes for a fascinating, perfectionist sounding board through which the audiences gets a new perspective on international cuisine. Unless you’re a food historian yourself, you’re gonna get a crash course on the foods you love, from Pizza to Curry, and with Chang’s fanatical drive to consider and uncover an endless array of context, it’s one of the most insightful, surprisingly emotional, and undeniably stellar food shows out there.

The American Barbecue Showdown

american-barbecue-showdown-sylvie

Image via Netflix

If you love barbecue, you’re probably going to be addicted to The American Barbecue Showdown, and upset that there’s currently only one season of it. The show has a similar format to The Great British Baking Show where a group of contestants has a different challenge every week for two esteemed judges (Kevin Bludso and Melissa Cookston), and at the end of the episode, someone is sent home until the finale when one contestant is crowned the winner.

What gives Barbecue its unique flavor is that there are so many different things to do with the various meats the contestants have at their disposal as well as the different ways that cooking barbecue can go awry. While there are times when The American Barbecue Showdown gets too much into the game rather than the food (one episode has the contestants cooking up animals like racoon and iguana), the barbecue and the sides look fantastic, and like Baking Show, the show is savvy enough to know that it’s better when contestants have a positive attitude towards each other rather than being cutthroat competitors. They know to save the cutting for the meat. – Matt Goldberg

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

salt-fat-acid-heat

Image via Netflix

Hosted By: Samin Nosrat

Samin Nosrat won a James Beard Award for her cookbook Salt.‌ Fat. Acid. Heat. before she decided to dig even deeper with her Netflix docuseries also named Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. Spread across four episodes, each focused on one of those titular elements, the series follows Nosrat around the world on a mission to further understand and educate about the tenants of great cooking. Nosrat got her start in the kitchen of the great Alice Waters at Chez Panisse, where she learned how chefs embraced their understanding of those core tenants to move beyond recipes to instinctual cooking. But those four components: salt, fat, acid, and heat just kept coming up, no matter which accomplished chef she was talking to. Combining elements of documentary filmmaking, education, cooking instructional, historiography, and personality-led travel adventure, Salt. Fat. Acid‌. Heat. is a killer watch for anyone who wants a holistic understanding of great cooking, and the unsung chefs behind it.

Somebody Feed Phil

somebody-feed-phil-season-4

Image via Netflix

Presented By: Phil Rosenthal

Another absolute gem in the travel food category, Somebody Feed Phil finds comedian and Everybody Loves Raymond creator Phil Rosenthal heading to culinary hot spots all around the world to sample the wares, mingle with the locals, and generally shares his endless supply of good vibes with everyone he meets. Rosenthal isn’t a chef, he’s not a restauranteur, but he is a vocally passionate enthusiast of yummy food and good company. And it’s just that simple. Rosenthal’s is infectious, which makes joining him on his adventures an absolute joy. Whether he’s grinning from ear to ear after chowing down on a local delicacy or delighting in an especially witty verbal sparring partner, Rosenthal makes you feel like you’re part of the fun. And just try to get the jazzy theme song out of your head after your feel-good binge, I dare you.

The Chef Show

the-chef-show

Image via Netflix

Presented By: John Favreau and Roy Choi

With beloved hits like Iron Man, Elf, and most recently, Disney’s first live-action Star Wars series, The‌ Mandalorian, Jon Favreau has established himself as a king of crowd-pleasing content, and with Netflix’s relentlessly charming cooking series The Chef Show, Favreau brings all that feel-good energy to one of the best easy-watching shows on Netflix. Re-teaming with his Chef consultant Chef Roy Choi, Favreau takes a cross-country food journey with his friend and mentor, meeting up with some of the biggest names in cuisine and entertainment alike along the way. Unfortunately, The Chef Show first went viral thanks to the moment Gwenyth Paltrow had no idea she was in Spider-Man, which doesn’t do service to how powerfully pleasant the series is in its own right. Favreau is infectiously enthusiastic, about his all-star guests, but most of all, about the food and the art of making it so damn delicious, and with one of America’s great chefs at his side, he makes for a dream companion for a streaming foodie road trip.

Zumbo’s Just Desserts

zumbos-just-desserts

Image via Netflix

Hosted By: Adriano Zumbo and Rachel Khoo

Zumbo’s Just Desserts may have flown under your radar, but you’re going to want to fix that because the Australian baking competition is extra in the highest order. Inspired by the over-the-top confectionary creations of Sugar Rush and MasterChef Australia familiar Adriano Zumbo, the cooking competition series pits aspiring bakers against each other in a series of themed contests. The twist is that the bottom-scoring pair of competitors square off at the end of each episode to recreate one of Zumbo’s outrageously intricate and flashy concoctions. Literally nobody is up to the task, ever, but they do their darnedest and it’s endlessly entertaining to watch them race the clock to finish a 13-layer cylindrical cake, melting hover chocolate, or whatever insanity Zumbo cooks up in each new episode.

Dropped into a Willy Wonka-style candyland of neon-drenched whimsy, the competitors are by and large charming, likable people you can’t help but root for, but Season 1 also has the advantage of showcasing one of the best cooking contest “villains” in recent memory. Well cast, edited, and arranged (and set-designed to filth) Zumbo’s Just Desserts is intentionally flamboyant and playful, from the design to the deserts themselves, to the point that it’s about two notches away from becoming an all-out parody. But that’s what makes it such an indulgent treat.

Chef’s Table

chefs-table

Image via Netflix

Created By: David Gelb

If you’re a hardcore foodie or casual student of the culinary arts, you can’t do much better than Chef’s Table for an insightful look into the artistry, ethos, and often all-consuming obsession that chefs around the world bring to their trade. The series was created by Jiro Dreams of Sushi director David Gelb and much like his celebrated 2011 documentary, Chef’s Table is all about the mastery of technique and lifelong dedication behind the world’s most celebrated chefs. Each episode of the Netflix original focuses on a different chef, and whether they forged a career in the culinary arts as a path to embrace their culture or through a compulsive drive to bake the perfect loaf of bread, each story is a one-of-a-kind glimpse at what drives someone to dedicate their life to food and how some of the foremost innovators in their trade developed their style. It’s a bit more serious and contemplative than the standard food doc, but it’s educational, gorgeously composed, and like all great docs, leaves you absorbed in the personalities it profiles.

The Final Table

the-final-table

Image via Netflix

Hosted By: Andrew Knowlton

Netflix’s take on the elite cooking competition series à la MasterChef and Iron Chef, The Final Table is straight-up not on the level of the series from which it takes its inspiration. It is, however, an unintentionally scathing insight into a darker side of food culture and the power disparities that disenfranchise minority chefs in the culinary world, and for that, it’s a pretty fascinating watch. The set-up finds 24 celebrated chefs from around the world, adorned with various accolades from Michelin stars to regional prizes, competing to execute the perfect dish from destinations around the globe. For their “trip” to America, they must craft a Thanksgiving dinner. For Brazil, the traditional Feijoada stew. And so on, through various cuisines, from India to Japan. And what’s it all for? Where most cooking shows have cash prizes, book deals, or other career-making opportunities as a reward, the already established chefs here are competing for the nebulous honor of winding up at the “final table”.

So far, so good if a bit overfamiliar, but The Final Table is a strangely out-of-touch series, too. It sports a seemingly willfully blithe attitude towards the historical implications of the food cultures they’re exploring (the oh-so-casual glancing over slavery and sugar plantations in the Feijoada episode is a particularly insert “excuse me” gif  moment, not to mention the uncomfortable ogling over Brazilian model and guest judge Alessandra Ambrosia.) And then there’s the matter of the inherently biased contests themselves, which favor the classically-trained chefs all along the way, leaving those with more regionally refined or distinct palettes and skillsets on the sidelines when they fail to execute a perfect traditional dish. There’s also the notable gender disparity in the competitors and judges alike, a general empty-woosh feeling to the absurdly massive cooking arena, and the absolute choice to pick Thanksgiving Dinner of all dishes to represent USA‌ cuisine (again, with absolutely no introspection about the complicated historical connotations of that choice.) In short, it’s a mess, but it’s a fascinating mess. Best paired with Ugly Delicious as a contrast case for how you explore international cuisine with grace, The Final Table is one of the most interesting because it is such an oddity in Netflix’s lineup.

million-pound-menu

Image via BBC Two

Hosted By: Fred Siriei

The elevator pitch for Million Pound Menu is that it’s Netflix’s Shark Tank for chefs and aspiring restaurateurs. Basically, would-be restaurant owners and established folks looking to expand have the opportunity to pitch their business to a panel of judges and would-be investors. The BBC‌ Two series makes for an entertaining watch and it certainly knows how to layer on the dramatics, making the contestants wait for an hour in an empty room for their potential investors to show up and doling out the intense music for audiences to experience the agony along with them in hyper-speed. If you’re curious about the ins and outs of running a fast-casual restaurant, there’s a decent amount of actual information tucked into the dramatics, but for the most part, Million Pound Menu leans heavily on the “competition” side of the food entertainment spectrum rather than “educational” — which is exactly what makes it such a fun binge-watch, even if like so many fast food options, you barely remember the flavor the moment it’s done.

The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell

the-curious-creations-of-christine-mcconell-netflix

Image via Netflix

Created By: Christine McConnell

Without a doubt the most unique and innovative food and cooking shows on Netflix, The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell tragically only lasted one season, but what a delightful 6 episodes of television we were blessed with. The title host and creator of the series, McConnell earned viral fame for her phenomenally ornate, goth-influenced creations, from wondrous sugary concoctions to her equally impressive home transformations. With The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell, she took all that impressive aesthetic and infused it into a classic kitchen cooking show by way of Henson puppet sitcom, and yes it’s every bit as fun and unusual as it sounds. McConnell’s decadent, absurdly detailed deserts are all but impossible to recreate at home and the series knows it, skimping on the tutorial portion in favor of bizzare comedy beats and Tim Burton meets Dita Von Teese showmanship. From the tentacled creature in McConnell’s refrigerator to the fashionable ghost in her mirror (played by Von Teese no less,) McConnell’s home is a wonderland of weirdness. And not to be dramatic, but I would literally die for the emotionally unstable and endlessly horny reanimated roadkill, Rose.

Taco Chronicles

taco-chronicles

Image via Netflix

It’s pretty much undisputed truth that if you don’t like tacos, you probably just haven’t had the right taco yet. Heck, the great food critic Jonathan Gold basically built a brand around the belief that they’re the perfect food. But the little tortilla-shelled snacks aren’t just the height of deliciousness, they represent a vast legacy of culinary tradition and food history that traces back to various cultures.

In Taco Chronicles, you get a crash course in the varied roots of the beloved menu staple, from its roots in Mayan and Lebanese cuisine to becoming a beloved essential in Mexico, the States, and the world over. To trace the origins of the taco is to look back on centuries of immigration, adaptation, and intermingling cultures, and Taco Chronicles charts that rich history by documenting six different types of tacos; their history, regional importance, cooking methods, essential ingredients, and the chefs who lead the contemporary field.

Sugar Rush

sugar-rush-netflix

Image via Netflix

The Martha Stewart Show helped make baking accessible. Cake Boss and Ace of Cakes helped make it glamorous. Cake Wars and The Great British Baking Show made it competitive. And with Sugar Rush, Netflix gets in on the game with a next-level, post-Instagram, neon-lit baking competition that pits four teams of bakers against each other in a triple tournament to sugary victory. Round one is cupcakes, round two is confections, and round three serves up the most over-the-top cakes in a battle royale of edible aesthetics and showmanship. Squaring off against their opponents and the relentlessly ticking clock, the teams have to craft their sweets around sometimes nebulous concepts like “surprise” or “trending”. It’s not a particularly innovative idea for a baking competition and it’s got a whole heap of that Netflix polish to keep your eyes well-fed with visual candy, but it’s the competitors themselves who bring the innovation and it’s consistently fun to see what wild concoctions they come up within each new challenge.

The Great British Baking Show

the-great-british-baking-show

Image via PBS

I say this without hyperbole: The Great British Baking Show is one of the best TV shows ever made. I had seen a lot of food/cooking TV before mine eyes witnessed the glory of TGBBS, so I was primed for some dramatic editing, contestants painted as “characters,” and cutthroat competition. What makes The Great British Baking Show so good is it dispenses with the pretense and is simply just about baking. There’s no cash prize at the end, just bragging rights. Contestants tackle three different challenges each week, where they’re given a set time to complete a specific bake. But in contrast to most American competition series, these contestants openly and willingly help one another. They’re nice. So nice that you may spontaneously burst into tears once you start digging in, taken aback at the sheer and utter humanity on display. These are just normal people who love baking, coming together to whip up some savory bread or dainty tarts or extravagant cakes. It’s all just so pleasant, and this has become a go-to for me when I need a pick-me-up or a pure feel-good television show. It’s utterly unique, and in the world of cooking shows, that’s genuinely hard to find. – Adam Chitwood

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

breakfast-lunch-and-dinner

Image via Netflix

Hosted by: David Chang

Ugly Delicious creator and renowned chef David Chang delivered another Netflix Original travel doc series with 2019’s Breakfast, Lunch &‌ Dinner. Once again the series follows Chang on the road with a cast of familiar guests, but the four-episode series has a bit of a lighter touch than Ugly Delicious, focusing a bit more on the guests and Chang’s interviews than digging deep into the culture and philosophy of the food they’re eating. That makes the four-episode series a breezy, easy watch, whether Chang is exploring the foods of Vancouver with Seth Rogen while stoned or venturing to Cambodia with Kate McKinnon.

Nailed It

nailed-it-bad-cake

Image via Netflix

Hosted By: Nicole Byer and Jaques Torres

The ultimate post-Pinterest cooking show, Nailed It combines everything you love about cooking competitions with the aesthetics of social media cooking and the lulz of #fail culture. Imagine something like Sugar Rush, but instead of professional bakers, the contestants were just doing their dang best. That’s pretty much the hook here, and while it’s delightful to see what absolute abominations they challengers cook up sometimes, the real joy of Nailed It is in the celebration of trying and giving it a good old-fashioned best you’ve got. And that is the ticket because Nailed It is good-humored instead of mean-spirited, which makes it a heap of fun to watch the contestants really go for it and take home that 10 grand prize money, making every goof up a disasterpiece.

Cooked

cooked-netflix

Image via Netflix

Created By: Alex Gibney

Hosted By: Michael Pollan

A four-part docu-series that seeks to investigate food preparation techniques as they pertain to human health, survival, and history, Cooked is on often educating, gorgeously shot series if you’re looking for something a bit more scholarly than your average cooking competition and travel doc. Created by Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney, best known for docs like Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and Going Clear: Scientology &‌ the Prison of Belief – so, not exactly light subject matter – Cooked’s four episodes tell the story of human food through the elements fire, air, earth, and water. That means an episode focused on our cultivation, consumption, and cooking of meats (fire), bread-making (air), fermentation (earth), and the merits of pot cooking vs. instant food in its best episode (water).

It’s a strong series with a lot of thought behind it, but each subject could easily fill a season of its own, making the episodes feel somewhat slight by the time it ends. That’s never more obvious than the episode where they confront how industrialized food targeted stay-at-home moms to get Americans hooked on highly-processed easy meals, which is also where you really feel Gibney’s voice come alive, a subject they only have time to scratch the surface of, leaving you wishing you had more. That said, they scratch the surface very well and Cooked makes for a thoughtful watch that may re-shape some of your ideas about food without demanding too much of your time.

 

Viggo Mortensen in A History of Violence

Viggo Mortensen Teases David Cronenberg Reunion — A “Strange Film Noir”

After ‘A History of Violence’ and ‘Eastern Promises,’ of course.

About The Author

Haleigh Foutch
(3192 Articles Published)

Haleigh Foutch is a writer, editor, host, actor, and cat enthusiast based in Los Angeles. She’s currently Senior Editor of Content Strategy and Analytics at Collider, where she’s been climbing the ranks and screaming about the unsung genius of Grosse Pointe Blank for nearly a decade. She also oversees Collider’s horror content and co-created The Witching Hour podcast, previously appeared as a regular panelist on Movie Talk, and has written for Rotten Tomatoes, Complex, Birth.Movies.Death., and more. You can usually find her sharing Buffy the Vampire Slayer memes on Instagram, rehearsing the Five Movements from The OA, and asking people about their pets.

More
From Haleigh Foutch

Comments are closed.