We don’t even have to say it at this point — we all know where we’re spending most of our time: right in front of a television or computer screen, endlessly watching Netflix because it is one of the few bastions of joy left in this world at the current time. We’re doing it, you’re doing it, your neighbor is doing it … hell, President Barack Obama is probably doing it, too. This is all of our lives now. Bingeing, bingeing, bingeing.
The question, then, becomes what you’re going to binge (and scrolling aimlessly through Netflix previews for three hours doesn’t count as bingeing).
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Of all the binge-worthy shows, we gravitate toward — you guessed it — shows about eating and drinking. There’s just something about diving into the mind of the geniuses who create the amazing things that we are able to consume that really rounds out a person’s life. That’s why we’ve put together the best food and cooking shows on Netflix right now. Whether you want a smart-ass making jokes or you want to really learn about what makes a famous chef tick, we’ve got you covered.
Returning with its second season, Rotten explores the, well, rotten side of food production. In season one, you can find explorations of garlic, honey, milk, and more. Season two tackles a new set of topics, including avocados and sugar. This isn’t a feel-good series, but it is worth a watch. You’ll feel disgusted at times, angry at others, and most likely you’ll not ever look at the foods you eat the same ever again.
It has the word taco in it, do we really even need to say more? We don’t, but we will. New for 2019, Taco Chronicles is a Spanish-language series from Netflix that looks at, you guessed it, tacos. Each episode (there are six total) explores a different type of taco. From how it’s made to its cultural import, you get a firsthand view of one of the best meals on the planet. Like many food-related shows, be ready, because it’s going to make you very, very hungry. Like, very hungry.
The beginnings of The Chef Show stretch back to 2014, when Jon Favreau met Roy Choi during the filming of Favreau’s movie Chef (Choi was a consultant). This meeting, we can assume, created a lasting friendship based on a mutual love of food. In The Chef Show, Favreau and Choi explore just how much fun it can be to cook with friends. From celebrity chefs (pitmaster Aaron Franklin) to film celebrities (Bill Burr), the duo behind the show cook, eat, and in the process learn more about how food brings people together.
If you checked out our list of the best food documentaries on Netflix, then the creator of Jiro Dreams of Sushi and Chef’s Table, David Gelb, is no stranger. Gelb considers Chef’s Table, a series that follows one world-famous chef per episode, the sequel to Jiro. The methods and approaches of Magnus Nillson (also profiled in Mind of a Chef), Grant Achatz, Christina Tosi, and many more are all put on display across the series. The sixth season of the show, which will feature four chefs from three continents, premiered February 22.
Street Food is a new project from the filmmakers behind Chef’s Table. Lovers of Chef’s Table get a bit of a different view in this series. Instead of the finest of fine dining establishments around the world (and the chefs that command them), Street Food looks at, well, street food. From roadside stands to markets brimming with locals-only cuisine, each episode explores the experiences in culinary greatness that are feasted upon by countless people every day. Each of the nine episodes in the first season takes place in a different Asian country, ensuring that you realize what you thought you knew about street food is actually quite little compared to what’s out there in the world.
A Netflix original, The Final Table is a culinary competition that spans the globe. The competition involves 12 pairs of chefs from around the world, all fighting to earn a place at the Final Table, and features a veritable who’s who of famous chefs. Those chefs include Grant Achatz (U.S.), Enrique Olvera (Mexico), Clare Smyth (U.K.), Andoni Aduriz (Spain), Helena Rizzo (Brazil), Vineet Bhatia (India), Carlo Cracco (Italy), Yoshihiro Narisawa (Japan), and Anne-Sophie Pic (France). Each episode focuses on one country’s national dishes and will feature a variety of celebrity critics and ambassadors. Teams are eliminated until just the finalists reach the finale. The Final Table is presented by Andrew Knowlton (James Beard Award-winning writer and editor-at-large for Bon Appétit).
Nailed It! has, in its first three seasons, developed a cult-like following. Whether you like the game-show format, the wit of host Nicole Byer and her co-pilot in culinary misery, Jacques Torres, or the train wreck that is amateur bakers believing they are better than everyone else, there’s a little something for everyone on this show. Perhaps the best part is how engaging it is — even if you don’t want to like Nailed It!, you’re going to like it. Like Call Me Maybe or the latest song everyone is doing viral dance videos to, it finds a way into your brain and stays there, releasing dopamine every time you watch. This month, the hit show is back with a fourth season to add to the baking madness.
Salt Fat Acid Heat is based on (and hosted by) James Beard Award-winning author Samin Nosrat. The four-part series is based on Nosrat’s book of the same name and will see the host travel to California mainstay restaurant Chez Panisse as well as restaurants in Japan, Mexico, and Italy. In each episode, Nosrat explores what good cooking is through a lens that investigates the fundamentals needed to create a good meal. This is the first process-based cooking show on Netflix, and it’s quickly becoming a favorite among the food-minded.
Ugly Delicious is celebrity chef David Chang’s exploration of foods from across the globe that are — if you couldn’t tell from the title — often overlooked. Along the way, he’s got a who’s who of celebrities joining him to eat, discuss, and delve into what makes good food good while also investigating how food can be used as a tool for cultural change. If you’re a fan of Anthony Bourdain’s temperament and approach, then Ugly Delicious will be right up your alley. Season 2 of Ugly Delicious premieres this month, so get ready for a host of new episodes to drop.
In this documentary series, Michael Pollan (who has shown up in practically every food documentary and show about how we could be doing the whole “good human stewards of the earth” thing better, in addition to penning a series of bestselling books on the topic of food) sets out on a quest to see just exactly how the act of cooking transforms both food on the physical level and the world that we as people build around food. Pollan bakes, brews, and braises his way to a higher level of culinary and cultural knowledge.
Looking for something a little longer? Check out these food documentaries while you’re at it.
For an area of the world more known for political strife, Israel has, over the last few decades, gone from having a cuisine that no one knew or talked about to being one of the standouts in the global culinary scene. To find out how that happened, James Beard award-winning chef and author Michael Solomonov (you might remember him from his Jerusalem hummus recipe) travels to Israel to explore the sorts of foods that propelled such a momentous push for a cuisine of its own as well as the people who make those foods. For many, Israeli cuisine may not rank high on their lists of must-have foods, but after watching this doc we can bet you’ll be shifting your list around quite a bit.
The name says it all. This documentary looks at what makes the combination of meat and fire so delicious. Told in 13 different languages from across the globe, Barbecue highlights the fact that barbecue is more than just a meal — it’s a way of bringing people together. The documentary argues that barbecue, no matter where you are on the planet, unites in ways that not many other styles of food can. (If you’re looking for more in the fire + meat category, we also recommend Todo Sobre el Asado, which looks at Argentinian barbecue.)
When it comes to food documentaries, Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a classic. You don’t have to like sushi to appreciate this film, which chronicles the life and work of Jiro, a subway station sushi chef who has been called a national treasure in Japan. This doc is as much about sushi as it is the lifelong pursuit of greatness. What does it mean to be perfect? Is it possible to reach perfection? How does that journey change one’s life? Jiro Dreams of Sushi is so engrossing that, before you know it, it’s over and you’re wanting to watch it again.
When two out of every three people are overweight, there might be a problem. When that fact is compounded by the number of people on prescription drugs for degenerative diseases and a climbing number of surgeries for a variety of maladies, you — like the team behind Forks Over Knives — might think that something needs to be done. This documentary explores one possibility for changing the above statistics: Switching from an animal-based to a plant-based diet (and cutting out processed foods). By following a variety of people who are trying this avenue, Forks Over Knives delves into what is and what could be the future of humanity. You may be 100% against vegetarianism and think the idea is a bunch of BS, but you should still give this doc a look.
Do you know where your food comes from? You might be able to take a stab at some things — you can feel confident, for example, that that sourdough roll was, in fact, baked by the guy in the frock at the farmer’s market — but what about the majority of the foods that populate the shelves of grocery stores. Moreover, do you know the entities behind those foods? Food, Inc. explores how huge corporations have taken over just about every aspect of food production, as well as the ramifications of that. If you want to be horrified by the state of food production in the world, this is the doc for you.
If you don’t consider yourself a foodie, you might not know who Jeremiah Tower is. Tower, an American chef, is credited with being one of the people to change how people view dining. Not only is he seen as one of the fathers of “California Cuisine,” but he has had an impact on food genres across the globe in his many decades of chef-dom. Produced by the late, great Anthony Bourdain, Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent is a, ahem, magnificent look at a chef that everyone should be acquainted with if they love food.
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