Eating food and going places: These are things we all do, or wish we could do more of. Netflix knows this, which explains the spike in food/travel programming in recent years. After all, when we're not eating food or going places, there's a good chance we're thinking about eating food or going places. The binge-watch model works wonderfully when indulging in such programming.
Whether an exciting history lesson is revealed or a new recipe is explored, Netflix has something for everyone. From the sardonic sensibilities of Anthony Bourdain to the awkward dad humor of Phil Rosenthal, here are 21 of the best food/travel shows available on Netflix right now.
Eat Your Words sounds like the perfect Yelp-themed revenge story. Instead of simply leaving the bad reviews untouched, the concept for the series puts contestants in the cook's shoes and challenges them to recreate the dish they didn't enjoy in the first place. What transpires is redemption on both sides--with the chefs sometimes receiving the vindication they seek, while the dissatisfied foodies sometimes prove they've got their own worthy culinary skills. After cooking up the negatively rated meal, the finished product is presented to a panel of judges--and then rated on their own Yelp-like star system.
Chef & My Fridge delivers a familiar cooking competition formula but through a South Korean reality show lens. The concept finds chefs teamed with regular people, with the goal of cooking up high-end dishes using only the ingredients contained in the guest star's fridge. Needless to say, the show's tone is lighthearted and a bit wacky, and gives American viewers insight into the country's reality food programming. Oh, and don't forget the emojis. There are lots of emojis.
Unlike the majority of shows on this list, Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories tackles food-themed voyeurism in a scripted format. The 10-episode series gives a peek into Tokyo's late night scene. It follows an assortment of characters--all of them diner regulars--as they partake in an assortment of Japanese comfort food. That's only the beginning, though, as the dishes in question spark different stories--full of heart, humor, and emotion. For those unfamiliar with Japanese culture, this show offers a lovely introduction to its food and people.
What's most interesting about Testing the Menu is the fact that it's a New Zealand cooking show focused on Asian fusion cuisine. Chef Nick Watt travels around Auckland and its surrounding area, testing out different recipes on the general public--which may or may not be added to the menu of the various Japanese restaurants he owns. Watt's nerdy presence offers a different dynamic for those needing a break from those shows that may take themselves a bit too seriously. As appetizing as things get, the show succeeds best when it highlights New Zealand culture.
If you're looking for an Anthony Bourdain-style show, but without all that Bourdain-iness, A Cook Abroad may quench your proverbial thirst. Each episode follows a different host as they traverse different parts of the world. From Sikh chef Tony Singh's trip to India to motorcycle enthusiast Dave Meyer's jaunt to Egypt to Rachel Khoo's inspiring look at Malaysia, it's easy to see the adventurous appeal of the series. There's only six episodes of the BBC 2 series--but that's surely enough to give viewers a taste of the show's unique worldly aesthetic.
Martin Picard is an award-winning chef that hails from Montreal. He's appeared as a guest on multiple food shows--the Canada episode of Parts Unknown comes to mind. And with The Wild Chef, he lets his adventurous food spirit free. Each episode finds the man and his sous chef Hugue Lafour hitting the road to brave the elements--hunting moose and trapping muskrats--only to create a delicious dish using what they find in the wilderness. While the show doesn't necessarily give you instructions on making these meals at home, The Wild Chef provides a survivalist angle to the food-travel show construct. And the result is quite entertaining.
Another series that has banked on the success of the Anthony Bourdain food/travel show formula is Avec Eric--which is not surprising since Eric Ripert is one of Bourdain's closest friends. The show follows the French chef as he travels the world, showcasing cultural highlights of whatever destination he's visiting. He may lack the charisma one would expect--there's no witty sarcasm here--but his show doesn't pander either. Staying true to his Buddhist sensibilities, Ripert keeps his focus on foods and locales of an exotic nature--and he does so without any pretension or judgment, which is delightful in its own right.
What's not to love about The Big Family Cooking Showdown? The host of the show, Nadiya Hussain, used her big win in Season 6 of The Great British Baking Show to launch this new competition series. Hailing from BBC Two, Hussain is joined by co-host Zoë Ball, and the two head to the British countryside to find the area's best home cooks. Rounding out the cast are judges Roseman Shrager and Michelin Star-winning chef Giorgio Locatelli. Cut from that feel-good Mary Berry cloth, the program succeeds at scratching the British Baking Show itch.
For those put off by the overhaul The Great British Baking Show went through, this show may be for you. While Mary Berry hasn't returned for the new season of the food competition series, this quaint spinoff reunites her with judge Paul Hollywood for an up-close-and-personal baking education. Instead of watching contestants struggle to keep up with each culinary challenge, Berry and Hollywood bring viewers into the kitchen to show how to make some of the toughest desserts featured on the popular series. Mary Berry may be gone from The Great British Baking Show, but her presence here is a treat for old and new fans alike.
With a name like Zumbo, you might expect something a bit clown-ish when tuning in to Zumbo's Just Desserts. While it’s not the circus sideshow the name implies,, the Australian series does come packed with plenty of spectacle. Each episode finds pastry chef Adriano Zumbo presenting two dessert-making challenges to a group of amateur bakers. What makes the series stand out from the pack are the out-of-this-world concoctions Zumbo whips up. Giant sugary sculptures and magical layered cakes abound in this series. Willy Wonka would be proud.
Jack Whitehall is pretty famous in the UK. The comedian and TV personality has earned himself a loyal following. And with his travel series, Jack Whitehall: Travels with my Father, he's connected with a whole new audience. The program follows a Bourdain-like formula as Whitehall travels to South Asia, aiming to fulfill his gap year dreams. But things get interesting when he decides to bring his father and former producer and talent agent, Michael Whitehall, along for the ride. What transpires is a hilarious bonding session that plays out between a hesitant, fancy father and his brash, adventurous son.
Rotten takes an in-depth look at the different aspects of the food business--and the fraud, crimes, and tragedies that come with it. From the "Honey" episode's focus on corruption and contamination plaguing America's honey industry to the "Peanut" episode's investigation into the drastic rise of food allergies, the six-part docuseries pulls no punches. It's not your typical feel-good food show, but the series does help to shine a light on lesser known, but quite critical, aspects of the food industry. Oh, and it's produced by Zero Point Zero--the Emmy-winning company behind a handful of hit food/travel shows, including Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.
Executive produced by author Michael Pollan, Cooked breaks down the familiar food docuseries format into four parts: "Fire," "Water," "Air," and "Earth." Each episode focuses on each of the planet's powerful elements to explore just how these resources are connected to sustenance, impacting the day-to-day foods we eat. The program peels back the curtain on the cultural history of global food practices, instead of just displaying food porn for food porn's sake. Ultimately, the Alex Gibney-directed (Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, The Looming Tower) series is informative without being pretentious--highlighting different perspectives the world over on topics from sustainable crops to food prep to the simple joy of enjoying dinner with family around a table.
Anthony Bourdain put his producer hat on for PBS's Mind of a Chef. Different celebrity chefs take the helm to host the series, with the assistance of Bourdain's familiar voice-over narration style. What audiences should expect here are similar components that make other Bourdain joints a success. You've got beautiful shots of food, travel tips, a peek into a town's history, an a handful of intriguing personalities. David Chang helms the first season--each episode is about 20 minutes long--which gives viewers that lovely Anthony Bourdain feel, without all the Bourdain.
Ugly Delicious takes the pretentiousness out of food programming, highlighting the importance of the ugly and delicious world of home cooking. Since David Chang disrupted the food world with his restaurant Momofuku, he's made a reputation of being one of the more vocal food personalities in the industry. As audiences have seen with his work from Vice's Munchies to Mind of a Chef, the man has interesting things to say. Chang isn't the only host of the series, though, giving a collection of unique voices a chance to shine. And that's great, especially for those out there who find his brash sensibilities an acquired taste.
From the man behind Seinfeld--the game-changing "show about nothing"--comes a simple show concept: Each episode follows the comedian as he drives some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry around the city in a classic car. Of course, they end up getting coffee, which is a selling point for any coffee fan, but the crux of the show finds Jerry chopping it up with his famous peers--from Jim Carrey to Barack Obama. It's like taking the best parts of a late night talk show on the road. And with Netflix's acquisition of the series, not only is every episode available to be viewed, it's delightfully bingeable.
In a world where loud judgmental hosts like Gordon Ramsay and Anthony Bourdain focus on the darker aspects of the culinary world, Mary Berry's The Great British Baking Show offers a different, pleasant perspective on things. As charming as it is beautiful, the show focuses on the delightful aspects of baking. And while this is a competition series, the programming formula sheds the expected reality show drama--there's no villain amongst the contestants--and focuses on the struggles and victories of the actual food-making process. It's a breath of fresh air, honestly.
When it comes to food programming, Chef's Table stands out from the pack with its epic production value. While this show provides a very high level of food porn for the senses, each episode adds an emotional component by delving into a famous chef's backstory. Without food, we'd surely die. But watching these stories unfold--exploring just how the culinary business not only saved, but changed lives for the better--shows just how important to the culture chefs are. Making meals may not always be pretty, but this heightened docuseries cuts through the fat, exposing the passion behind the meal.
Netflix one-upped itself with Chef's Table: France. Sure, Chef's Table changed the game when it comes to food porn. The cinematography alone in these episodes deserve all the awards. That said, bringing the series to France was a no-brainer. Not only do these episodes appeal to French locals, presenting the subject matter all in the country’s native tongue, the program opens things up to a global audience. Exploring these various dishes and culture is impactful here for the simple reason that French cuisine has--and continues to have--a monumental impact on food around the world. If Chef's Table dug into the stories and struggles behind the food, Chef's Table: France breaks the whole thing down to its basest id. And it'll leave your mouth watering for more.
Upon watching Somebody Feed Phil (The Netflix continuation of PBS's short-lived series I'll Have What Phil's Having) you instantly feel a stark difference from the grumpy host stylings that either Bourdain or Chang bring to the table. Phil Rosenthal--he's the guy who created Everybody Loves Raymond--has one goal in mind: To go to new places and try new things. As he travels around the world and puts local delicacies into his mouth, the man's joy becomes quite contagious. After all, he's not here to judge. He's here to encourage everyone to try new food. And if they like what they try, to have a little more!
Since he brought No Reservations to The Travel Channel over a decade ago, Anthony Bourdain's punk rock panache and sardonic sense of humor cut through the TV fluff and changed the food-travel show game. Now that he's taken his brand to CNN, Parts Unknown has built upon his familiar formula. Through the six seasons available on Netflix, Parts Unknown has brought viewers a plethora of food porn, travel show stories, insight from food personalities around the world, and a multitude of deep history lessons. In other words, this is Anthony Bourdain's world--we're just living in it.