Cooking show on netflix

Table of Contents

8 Food Shows and Movies You Can Watch on Amazon Prime Video

Those of you with a trusty Amazon Prime account (read: all of us) probably know it mainly as a way to get your impatient hands on packages in two days or less. But the next best perk is its streaming video service, Prime Video; after you’ve made it through a few seasons of guilt-inducing reality TV, spend the rest of the weekend watching these eight cooking shows and food documentaries that give Netflix a run for its subscription.

① America’s Test Kitchen

For those still mourning the loss of Good Eats—and those who have rewatched all 14 seasons—there’s America’s Test Kitchen. It reminds us of everything we love about Alton Brown, with a set of exhaustively tested recipes, each step backed up by countless experiments. This series is an at-home culinary school for serious cooks.

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② Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home

You might fuzzily remember watching this legendary duo back on PBS (probably on your parents’ old-fashioned tube), tackling everything from chicken potpie to sole meunière. Luckily, you can still rewatch this gold standard of educational cooking shows, complete with Jacques Pépin’s insanely impressive knife skills and Julia Child’s always-boisterous personality.

③ Sriracha

Labeling a condiment as iconic may seem excessive, but after watching the story behind David Tran’s legendary invention, you’ll quickly understand why this hot sauce has such a dedicated cult following around the country.

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④ Making It Modern

Remember those retro (and somewhat-revolting) recipes that defined the 70s? Join host Bethany Herwegh as she boldly recreates and tastes all manner of congealed Jell-O salads and hollandaise-smothered bananas before then coming up with her own modern-day takes.

⑤ Jamie Oliver’s Food Escapes

Now that you’ve exhausted every episode of No Reservations on Netflix, you can look forward to watching the Naked Chef travel to other wanderlust locations around the world, where he takes part in local customs and learns how to cook regional food that’ll have you looking up flight deals.

A post shared by Jamie Oliver (@jamieoliver) on Jul 13, 2017 at 2:06am PDT

⑥ Eat the World with Emeril Lagasse

Watch the OG celebrity chef tag along with other famous food figures as they explore the world in this James Beard Award-nominated series. From dining on soup dumplings in Shanghai with Mario Batali to joining José Andrés on a culinary tour of Spain, Lagasse shares his enthusiasm and love of food, this time without even needing to say the word bam.

⑦ Three Stars

Ever wonder what it takes to run a Michelin-starred restaurant? This documentary goes behind the scenes with acclaimed chefs, including Jean-Georges Vongerichten and René Redzepi, as they share the sacrifices it takes to run some of the world’s best restaurants.

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⑧ Just Eat It

This isn’t just another preachy film about food waste: The daring stars of Just Eat It take part in a six-month-long challenge, where they quit grocery shopping completely and survive on nothing but food that would otherwise be tossed in the trash. In between takes of dumpster diving, the documentary also explores how something as simple as expiry dates contributes to our country’s food-insecurity issue.

23 Food Shows and Movies Hitting Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu in July

The middle of summer is a great time to lock yourself inside with the AC on full blast along with a list of things to watch. And this month, fans of food-themed TV shows and movies are in for a treat, because the big streaming services are adding a ton of culinary-minded content to their libraries. Here’s a roundup of all the food programming that’s going to appear on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime this month (and for more ideas on what to watch, subscribe to Eater’s free TV newsletter Eat, Drink, Watch).

On Friday, July 6, Netflix will add another season of Phil Rosenthal’s culinary travel series Somebody Feed Phil, as well as more episodes of Jerry Seinfeld’s interview show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. The following Friday, the first season of Sugar Rush, a new timed baking competition starring Adriano Zumbo and Candace Nelson as judges, will land on the streaming platform. And at the end of the month, the third installment of food-filled Japanese-language reality show Terrace House: Opening New Doors will make its debut on Netflix. In addition to these new series, Netflix also nabbed the dessert-heavy rom-com Chocolat and Adam Sandler chef dramedy Spanglish, both of which are now available to stream.

Hulu, meanwhile, will see an influx of old Food Network shows this month. Starting this Friday, July 6, the streaming service will be home to older seasons of Beat Bobby Flay, Bobby Flay’s Barbecue Addiction, Chopped Junior, Triple D, Food Network Star Kids, Kids Baking Championship, Kids BBQ Championship, Man Finds Food, Man Fire Food, and Burgers, Brew & Que’. Additionally, past seasons of Chopped, Cutthroat Kitchen, Iron Chef Gauntlet, and Restaurant: Impossible will be available on Hulu starting July 13.

Over on Amazon, Prime subscribers will get to watch a new series called Eat. Race. Win. starting on July 16. This show is about a “performance chef” named Hannah Grant who cooks for the athletes competing in the Tour de France. And on that same day, the Melissa McCartney baking competition comedy Cook Off! — which was filmed before the comedian became a big star and sat in the vault until last fall — will also go live on Amazon Prime.

Finally, Off the Menu, an indie rom-com about a New Mexico chef who falls in love with a fast-food company honcho who’s trying to steal her signature dish, will be available for you to watch starting on July 20.

• Everything coming to Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO Now in July
• What’s New To Hulu July 2018
• All Food TV Coverage

Another day, another licensing agreement for Amazon’s online streaming video network. After nabbing FX Network’s western crime drama Justified earlier this week, Amazon announced Thursday that past seasons of shows from Scripps Networks’ portfolio of channels, including HGTV, Food Network, DIY Network, the Cooking Channel and the Travel Channel, are coming to Amazon Instant Video.

Subscribers to Amazon’s $79-per-year Prime service will have access to past episodes of Rachael Ray’s Week in a Day, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Cupcake Wars, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, House Hunters, House Hunters International, Iron Chef America, Man v. Food, Selling New York, Selling LA, Throwdown With Bobby Flay, Chopped, Ghost Adventures and Yard Crashers, among unidentified others. Other (again, unspecified) shows will be available for purchase and download.

SEE ALSO: A+E, History and Lifetime Shows Come to Amazon Prime

Although the agreement is being billed as the first online-only distribution deal, it’s by no means exclusive, leaving Scripps free to strike similar agreements with other providers. In late 2011, Scripps’s EVP of finance, Lori Hickok, said she was interested in bringing Scripps to streaming video providers like Netflix and Hulu, but not exclusively. “We want to be very careful there,” she said. “There are other potential partners .”

Photo of Bobby Flay courtesy of Scripps Networks Interactive

Netflix

We’re in the middle of it all, now, (by now we mean winter) and that means that there is literally zero excuse to go outside and do things (unless you’re the winter sporting type, of course, then have at it). While inside, we all know what we’re all doing, let’s be real — we’re bingeing Netflix. We’re not just bingeing, but we’re bingeing to the point that Netflix asks not once, but at least twice if we’re still watching. Yes, Netflix, we are still watching our cooking shows, so stop judging.

The question, then, becomes what you’re going to binge (and scrolling aimlessly through Netflix previews for three hours doesn’t count as bingeing).

Other Netflix Streaming Guides

  • Best Food Documentaries
  • Best Adventure Documentaries
  • Best True Crime Documentaries
  • Best Action Movies
  • Best Documentaries Overall

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.

Rotten

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.

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Taco Chronicles

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.

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The Chef Show

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.

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Chef’s Table

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.

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Street Food

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.

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown

As the final season of the late, great Anthony Bourdain’s show Parts Unknown aired on CNN at the end of 2018, Netflix brought the penultimate season, season 11, to the service on December 25. In season 11, Bourdain travels to Bhutan, Berlin, Armenia, and more. Sadly, as of December 26, seasons 7-11 are gone. The jerks.

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The Final Table

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).

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Nailed It!

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. The newest iteration to premier, this month, is Nailed It! Germany.

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Salt Fat Acid Heat

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.

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Ugly Delicious

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.

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The Mind of a Chef

A PBS show executive produced by Anthony Bourdain, The Mind of a Chef took the Netflix world by binge storm when it first showed up on the platform. It bills itself as an “intelligent show about cooking” and it’s not wrong. Through travel, history, and more, viewers get to see what makes specific chefs tick. The latest season follows chef Danny Bowen in much that same way that the previous seasons have covered such big names as David Chang, Sean Brock, April Bloomfield, Edward Lee, Magnus Nilsson, Gabrielle Hamilton, David Kinch, and Ludo Lefebvre.

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Cooked

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.

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  • The Best Travel and Adventure Documentaries on Netflix Right Now

The best food shows and films to watch on Netflix if you love food

The best food shows on Netflix are so all consuming, some days, they take your life.

You know – like that Sunday you binged your way through all of Chef’s Table, but found that your appetite for the best food shows out there still wasn’t sated? Are you now craving more lingering shots of langoustine and earnest interviews with shell-shocked sous-chefs? If you love food as much as we do, then the answer to both of those questions is probably yes.

And if you love consuming endless amounts of media as much as we do, then rifling through your Netflix library to choose what to watch as you’re eating dinner can cause unnecessary stress. By the time you eventually give up and decide to watch an episode of The Office that you’ve already seen 4 times, your once-piping hot attempt at cacio e pepe will have become a cold and congealed mass. Don’t let that happen again.

Instead, take our advice and whack on something from our following list of the best food shows, films, and documentaries on Netflix. Just make sure you’ve got some snacks on hand though, because these are going to make you hungry…

21 of the best food shows and movies on Netflix

‘Always Be My Maybe’ (2019), directed by Nahnatchka Khan

Netflix

Starring Ali Wong, Randall Park and… Keanu Reeves, this earnest and endearing rom com is set in the world of restaurants, family squabbles over the dinner table and frenetic fine-dining kitchens. Wong plays a highly successful (yet highly strung) chef who eventually learns to re-discover the reason she started cooking in the first place thanks to rekindling a connection with her childhood sweetheart. It’s more about love than it is about food. But, then again, it’s one of the best food shows as it’s about love. So, it’s actually very much about food. Which we love.

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2. Street Food

‘Street Food’ (2019) is a celebration of real people cooking real good food

Netflix

‘Street Food’ (2019) is a celebration of real people cooking real good food

Netflix

‘Street Food’ (2019) is a celebration of real people cooking real good food

Netflix

‘Street Food’ (2019) is a celebration of real people cooking real good food

Netflix

‘Street Food’ (2019) is a celebration of real people cooking real good food

Netflix

‘Street Food’ (2019) is a celebration of real people cooking real good food

Netflix

‘Street Food’ (2019) is a celebration of real people cooking real good food

Netflix

‘Street Food’ (2019) is a celebration of real people cooking real good food

Netflix

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From the same team that brought you Chef’s Table, this deep dive into some of the world’s most dedicated and delicious street food vendors is an excellent example of how it’s not just fine-dining stalwarts that deserves the accolades in food media. That being said, you’ll still find some Michelin starred cooking here courtesy of Thai chef Jay Fai and her crab omelettes. A food docu-series without any pretensions, Street Food is moreish and ideal for binging on when you’re not too hungry. After all, it’s one of the best food shows in existence and guaranteed to make you at the very least want a bowl of noodles.

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3. The Chef Show

‘The Chef Show’ (2019) is presented by Jon Favreau and Roy Choi

Netflix

‘The Chef Show’ (2019) is presented by Jon Favreau and Roy Choi

Netflix

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If you enjoyed the film Chef – you’ll love The Chef Show. If you haven’t seen Chef – watch that right now. Then come back and watch The Chef Show. Jon Favreau and Roy Choi joined by a spate of celebrity guests like Gwenyth Paltrow, Bill Burr, Robert Rodriguez and more. Be warned though: you’ll be craving a grilled cheese almost immediately after a viewing. See – you’ll never have to Google best food shows again.

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4. Flavorful Origins

This series is an excellent means of learning a hell of a lot about Chaoshan cuisine. Each episode focuses on a specific ingredient that is often used in regional Chaoshan cooking, exploring where the ingredients come from, what they’re used for, and highlighting the fascinating stories of the people behind the cuisine’s creation. Watch Flavorful Origins and you’ll come out far better educated on everything from tofu cakes to brine. Not only is it one of the best food shows, but it’s also one of the most educational.

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5. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

Samin Nosrat’s ‘Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat’ (2019) simplifies food down into its most elemental facets

Netflix

Samin Nosrat’s ‘Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat’ (2019) simplifies food down into its most elemental facets

Netflix

Samin Nosrat’s ‘Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat’ (2019) simplifies food down into its most elemental facets

Netflix

Samin Nosrat’s ‘Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat’ (2019) simplifies food down into its most elemental facets

Netflix

Samin Nosrat’s ‘Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat’ (2019) simplifies food down into its most elemental facets

Netflix

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Samin Nosrat is both a queen of the kitchen, and our hearts. It’s rare to see a host succeed in transferring so much sheer joy over to a food programme; however, Samin provides that enthusiasm in spades. Not content at merely being pleasant to watch, the show sees Nosrat do a deep dive into the very basic elements that makes food delicious alongside oodles of detailed info. While it’s obviously one of our picks for the best food shows on Netflix, it’s also a definite contender for best show overall.

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6. The Final Table

The Final Table is a reality cooking show that ramps up just about everything to the Nth degree

Netflix

The Final Table is a reality cooking show that ramps up just about everything to the Nth degree

Netflix

The Final Table is a reality cooking show that ramps up just about everything to the Nth degree

Netflix

The Final Table is a reality cooking show that ramps up just about everything to the Nth degree

Netflix

The Final Table is a reality cooking show that ramps up just about everything to the Nth degree

Netflix

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From Hell’s Kitchen to The Great British Menu, cooking competitions can vary in terms of both their intensity and entertainment value. The Final Table is pretty valuable in both those regards. The comp pits 12 pairs of chefs from around the world against each other as they prepare national dishes from a number of nations – each episode placing a focus on a specific country’s cuisine. It’s high drama, high action, and the levels of the chef are extremely high skill. The Final Table is a nice reminder that cooking competitions can be truly captivating.

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7. The Great British Bake Off

The Great British Bake Off is a lovely mum’s hug of a programme. It’s likely that anyone even vaguely interested follows it religiously, but have you ever gone back and binge-watched the first few series? If not, you really should. Every season from the get-go provides all the thrills, spills and soggy bottoms you could ever want from reality television. You’ll get to relive the Mary Berry years in their prime and, well, GBBO’s just so overwhelmingly pleasant, isn’t it?

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8. Somebody Feed Phil

This food and travel show is hosted by “Everybody Loves Raymond” creator Phil Rosenthal

Netflix

This food and travel show is hosted by “Everybody Loves Raymond” creator Phil Rosenthal

Netflix

This food and travel show is hosted by “Everybody Loves Raymond” creator Phil Rosenthal

Netflix

This food and travel show is hosted by “Everybody Loves Raymond” creator Phil Rosenthal

Netflix

This food and travel show is hosted by “Everybody Loves Raymond” creator Phil Rosenthal

Netflix

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The beauty of this Netflix food and travel show is that it could, quite literally, have been done by absolutely anyone. It just so happens that its host is “Everybody Loves Raymond” creator Phil Rosenthal. And, to be fair to the man, he does a pretty great job. Rosenthal travels the globe to take in the local cuisine and culture of cities like Bangkok, Dublin, Copenhagen and more. While Rosenthal’s passion for food shines through, we’re still bitter that we didn’t get the call from Netflix instead. Could Foodism eating around London be one of the best food shows ever? You betcha.

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9. The Trip

Yes, The Trip is 90% just Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon doing impressions of other British comics but the other 10% (which consists of drinking great wine and eating great food) makes it some of the most pleasant food-adjacent viewing going. We’d kill to be at the dinner table with these two.

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10. Ugly Delicious

Ugly Delicious / Netflix

Ugly Delicious is an eight-part series that follows chef David Chang – of Momofuku fame – as he explores what different types of food mean to different cultures. It’s one of the best food shows going. Using the lens of food to instigate a deep-dive into his own upbringing, Chang navigates everything from the complicated culinary issues surrounding cultural appropriation to the convenience of the Domino’s pizza delivery service. A must-watch for anyone who’s even been criticised for something smelling funky in their packed lunch.

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11. For Grace

For Grace / Netflix

For Grace is about good food. But, more importantly, it’s about the people who make it. Following Curtis Duffy as he builds up his restaurant, Grace, from concept to reality, ‘For Grace’ provides an intimate portrait on the costs of ambition. As Duffy’s familial relationships are thrown to the wayside in the name of fine-dining, the documentary offers a sobering insight into what it takes to achieve success in the cut-throat world of restaurant kitchens.

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12. Nailed It

Nailed It! / Netflix

We commend Nailed It for being one of the few cookery competitions where we genuinely reckon we’d have a chance at winning. It’s a show where three amateur bakers take a crack at re-creating edible masterpieces for a $10,000 prize. Often to pretty varying degrees of success. And, by varying, we generally mean minimal. Most of the deplorable cakey creations would make Mary Berry white as a sheet. And it’s wildly entertaining. Describing itself as “part reality contest, part hot mess”, the only thing you really need to know about Nailed It is that it’s a whole lot of fun.

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13. The Search for General Tso

The Search for General Tso / Netflix

You’ve probably heard of General Tso’s Chicken. You’ve probably even eaten some General Tso’s Chicken. But what exactly is General Tso’s Chicken? This documentary attempts to find that out through its investigation into the history of the Chinese-American fast food staple. Tracking the dish’s origins from China’s Hunan province to modern day California, this documentary’s food-based focal point is its main strength. It covers everything from the influx of Chinese immigrants in America to debates surrounding around the dish’s integral ingredients, all through interviews with the very people responsible for what we call Chinese food today.

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14. Deep Fried Masters

Deep Fried Masters / Netflix

Oh, America. Never change. This cookery show is quite possibly the most American food program in existence. It involves three deep fry experts rocking up to various fairs across the great American landscape to uncover the nation’s next great ‘Deep Fried Master’. The Great British Bake-Off this is not. But one of the best food shows on Netflix it is. Each episode features eight competitors in a three-round challenge as the judging panel of state fair legends pick the winner based on the quality of their deep-fried Frankenstein’s monster. You can practically feel your arteries clogging (and appetite shamefully whetting) as a plate of deep-fried cheeseburgers is declared a “masterpiece”.

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15. Cooked

Cooked / Netflix

Photography: Karen Ballard

Acclaimed food writer, Michael Pollan’s Cooked is a lovely little series about how cooking has shaped the world we live in. Each episode is tied together thematically by an element, as Pollan studies the influence that ‘Fire’, ‘Water’, ‘Air’, and ‘Earth’ have had on how we eat. If you want to watch one of the best food shows with an intellectual spins that extols the joys of cooking, and its ability to help bridge personal connections between people, give Cooked a go.

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16. Samurai Gourmet

Samurai Gourmet / Netflix

A far cry from programmes with shouting chefs and cash prizes, ‘Samurai Gourmet’ is likely the most relaxing food-based TV series in existence. For one, it’s entirely fictional and devoid of the tropes commonly associated with “reality” television. Set – and produced – in Japan, the plot revolves around the travels of a retired salesman named Takeshi as he slowly rediscovers his passion for food and life. And…that’s about it. Focussed less on the actual food and more about the emotions associated with eating a meal in a certain time and place, ‘Samurai Gourmet’ is light, wholesome, and will leave you hungry for more.

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17. King Georges

King Georges / Netflix

Now, Georges Perrier isn’t actually a King. But he is a royally interesting man. Perrier hustles, bustles, sweats, and shouts his way through the entirety of this documentary about the once-famous French restaurateur’s doomed fight to keep his Philadelphia restaurant, Le Bec-Fin open. While his explosions in the kitchen underline the industry’s more antiquated and toxic elements, Perrier’s passion is what prevents him from becoming a wholly malignant figure. He swears because he cares and he shouts because that’s the only way he knows how to run a kitchen. King Georges is a fascinating insight into how restaurateurs of a different generation have (or rather, haven’t) adapted to the modern food landscape.

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18. Todo Sobre El Asado

Todo Sobre El Asado / Netflix

If there’s one thing that Argentina has rightfully become known for in the food sphere, it’s the country’s passionate adoration and treatment of meat. Todo Sobre El Asado, an examination into Argentina’s barbecue scene and culture, is an absolute love letter to the stuff. It’s got meat bursting at the seams. There’s coals, cows, and churrasco littered throughout this quirky Spanish language documentary. The title quite literally translates to ‘All About The Barbecue’. Vegans and vegetarians look away now…

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19. Rotten

Rotten / Netflix

One of the harsh realities for those of us who love food is that the way we often get our pleasant tasting produce can be a pretty unpleasant process for most of those involved. Rotten travels deep into the heart of the food supply chain to reveal some of the unsavoury truths about where our food actually comes from. It’s eye-opening and, at times, difficult to watch. But that’s what makes it such essential viewing and one of the best food shows for those skeptical about the way that food processing works.

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20. Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Jiro Dreams of Sushi / Netflix

If you haven’t seen Jiro Dreams of Sushi: go and watch it now. Seriously. What are you waiting for? A profile of sushi master Jiro Ono, it’s practically become required viewing for anyone who considers themselves a foodie. And it’s not hard to see why. The documentary is an emotional insight into the dedication required to truly achieve perfection. Jiro is a true artist, and, even if you hate sushi, you’ll be hard-pressed not to be entranced by the man’s craftsmanship and consequently pained by the strain that his obsession puts on his relationship with even his closest family members.

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21. The Mind of a Chef

The Mind of a Chef / Netflix

We started this selection off with a bit of David Chang, so we thought it’d only be fitting that we also end it with a bit of David Chang. Think of this as a delicious David Chang Netflix sandwich, if you will. ‘The Mind of a Chef’ is a series that follows the creative processes of various celebrity chefs to exact what fuels their culinary artistry. The first season is dedicated to Chang, though each consequent season provides a different renowned chef, including April Bloomfield and Ludo Lefebvre, as subject. Every episode is only around 20 minutes long, making The Mind of a Chef an easy programme to binge over the weekend and one of the best food shows to watch when you’re crippled by a hangover.

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10 Netflix Shows And Movies Every Restaurant Professional Should Watch Right Now

Gone are the days when you had to wait for days (or even months) to watch your favorite movie if you missed going to the theatres. Or, the days when you would have to spend hours in order to Torrent your favorite TV shows. Today, there is no dearth of content. You can browse and watch everything that was on your list of “Things to watch this Summer”. It’s easily accessible on platforms like Netflix.

According to an article by Forbes, Netflix spent more than $10 billion developing content over a course of 12 months! Its success has been phenomenal, globally. And everyone has been hit by this new trend of streaming shows that they resonate the most with, without any bias.

If you’re a restaurateur who is wondering what to watch on Netflix, we have curated a list for you. From documentaries to comedies to palatable dramas, we have it all.

1. Chef’s Table

A brilliant documentary of six volumes, Chef’s table is a skillfully cooked series that features thirty chefs from around the globe. Each episode beautifully shows their (sometimes) farfetched journeys of becoming successful chefs and restaurateurs. Hailing from different parts of the world, these award-winning stars share the common affinity towards gastronomy.

Gaggan Anand, Dominique Crenn, Alex Atala, Asma Khan are few of the many revolutionists of the food industry shown here. The documentary talks about the incredible adventures they’ve experienced and the relentless contributions they’ve made in preserving their respective indigenous food cultures.

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2. The Mind Of A Chef

Produced and narrated by one of the most celebrated chefs, late Anthony Bourdain, this show delves into the minds of international celebrity chefs. 3-4 episodes in each of the five seasons are dedicated to one chef where they travel and explore the various veins of the gastronomic body. This series is also for all those who couldn’t catch Bourdain’s Parts Unknown while it was on Netflix.

3. Sugar Rush Christmas

A gripping Netflix Original, this series is a baking competition between four teams where each time has two members. The bakers are supposed to prepare sugary delights over a course of three rounds and each dish will be judged by a guest host for that episode. Given that Christmas is just around the corner, we thought this might prove to be beneficial for all those bakeries who want to try and sell something different this winter season.

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4. Eat Pray Love

A slight shift from the flow of this article’s scope, this movie adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir of the same name, is soulfully very engaging. Whilst Eat Pray Love showcases those of regions of feminine experience that were earlier inadmissible, “I’m having a relationship with my pizza” instantly became relatable to all. What may seem like different segments of the movie, the three monosyllables are interconnected. After watching this masterpiece, one is sure to fall in love with Italian, Indian and Balinese delicacies.

5. Street Food

Be it soy-marinated crabs from South Korea or the spicy chaats from the streets of Delhi, street food has gained humongous popularity in the last couple of years. Watch how the new culture has existed in countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Japan and more.

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6. Sustainable

As the name suggests, this documentary carefully analyses the connect between food, mankind, and nature. It elaborates on how the environment is affected eventually. This light production highlights diligent farmers and other people involved in the sustainable food movement. This is applicable to all restaurateurs since it educates people on the history that led to this movement.

7. Ugly Delicious

Going against the first word of this series, Momofuku’s famous chef David Chang travels across the globe and unravels the most unusual combination of food. On this hunt, he meets foodies, writers, and other chefs who talk about the myths and common misconceptions when it comes to food. If you’re someone who loves to experiment and is looking for some kind of inspiration when it comes to creating fusion dishes at your restaurant, this show is meant for you!

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8. Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories

This is an adaptation of a best-selling and award-winning Manga, “Midnight Diner”, this short series has ten independent stories that are connected by a restaurant owner who goes by the name of, “Master”. He cooks any dish that his customers ask for as long as they bring their own ingredients. Each story shows how different people come into a 12 seater restaurant and order dishes. Each episode is named after a dish. Pretty relatable for those chefs and restaurateurs who closely interact with/observe each diner who enters their restaurant. Maybe you could create a series of your own. Marketing hack? Definitely.

9. Rotten

A real “eye-opener” as many like to call it, Rotten exposes and discusses the underlying fraud that exists in the food business. It rightfully talks about the shady tactics used by many to cover illegal activities when it comes to food production and the sources. This show talks about how people are coming up with unlawful methods in order to meet growing demands.

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10. Cooked

A rather compelling documentary, Cooked is based on a novel, “Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation” by food writer – Michael Pollan. Each episode focuses on one of the four major elements that constitute nature and how they have helped shape the art of cooking.

Turning off the knob

There are many other Restaurant TV shows, movies, and documentaries that you can watch and get inspired by. Julie & Julia, Cooking on High (inserts a 420 reference), Sugar Rush and many more. We hope that this list has helped you chalk out the hour-long tedious process of choosing what to watch.

Happy (binge) watching!

10 Netflix Shows And Movies Every Restaurant Professional Should Watch Right Now 5 (100%) 1 vote

7 fantastic food docs and TV shows to watch with the kids right now on Netflix, Hulu, or the Food Network.

I’m a mom who loves food: I love to eat, cook, and watch anything food related. Having one kid who is a very picky eater and one who is more adventurous, I find that watching family-friendly food docs and TV shows together encourages them to try new things. Even better, it often encourages them to want to cook themselves.

From educational and inspiring food documentaries to fun cooking competition shows, these 7 docs and food TV shows for kids — that are fun for us to watch too — are sure to educate and entertain. Or at the very least, make everyone hungry.

Related: Netflix’s “Nailed It” is a baking show for the rest of us. And our kids, too.

Fed Up

Fed Up is a documentary available on Netflix narrated by Katie Couric that uses statistics, research, and interviews about the effects of sugar on our bodies. It follows several families struggling with childhood obesity and their efforts to cut back on their sugar intake. It’s a bit sensationalized and may have you reading every nutrition label like a hawk, but it’s a really good reminder — or maybe a wake up call — about the impact that too much sugar has on our bodies.

My family saw this film at a film festival screening a couple of years back and I loved that it encouraged us to started reading labels and inspired healthier eating. For awhile at least. After all of the ice cream we’ve eaten this summer, I think we may watch Fed UP again for family movie night soon.

The Kids Menu

Like Fed Up, The Kids Menu is a documentary available on Netflix about how healthy eating, especially in childhood, is very important. Unlike Fed Up, The Kids Menu uses a more upbeat approach: It shows kids and schools making positive changes with food and nutrition as part of their education. Whether it’s a school-garden-to-table program or kids working to get healthier lunch choices in their school cafeteria, this is such a great documentary for families with younger kids that will help foster an appreciation for real food and maybe some activism too.

The Great British Baking Show

If your family loves food competition shows then you should check out The Great British Baking Show on Netflix. It’s an absolutely fab baking contest that my girls and I are obsessed with. You get the competition, big personality judges, and tons of drool-worthy shots of sweets, all with a British twist. Besides great accents and different baking terms for an American audience — biscuits are cookies, not buttery rolls of bread — we love how the contestants and judges are all so nice and supportive of each other. Well done!

Related: The best culinary summer camps for kids around the country. You both reap the rewards!

Kids Baking Championship

My 10-year-old loves every season of Kids Baking Championship on Food Network and I love watching with her. It’s hard not to love the 12 kids who compete for the best baker title in a 10 week competition. Their skills are seriously amazing and all of the kids are really likable. You’ll root for them all, and also love the judges. Ace of Cakes’ Duff Goldman and actress/cook Valerie Bertinelli are sweet and so supportive.

A Place at the Table

Perhaps a more powerful way than lecturing to get your kids to keep from wasting their food is to watch A Place at the Table. This powerful doc available on Hulu takes a good look at hunger right here in the United States. By showing real communities dealing with poverty and food insecurity, this film will help kids become more aware of the issue. It’s a fantastic opportunity to open their eyes to the fact that even some of their classmates might get their meals from government assistance programs or food pantries. And it may inspire you and your family to donate to your local food pantry.

Good Eats

My teen can’t get enough of Good Eats, the show that made Alton Brown famous. Netflix offered all 252 episodes, but sadly that run ended. However, you can still watch videos on FoodNetwork.com, Hulu, and The Cooking Channel. If you haven’t watched before, the show breaks down the science of cooking with humor, fun and quirky props, and weird characters and skits. It’s like a cooking show mixed with The Pee Wee Herman Show, if you can imagine that. Brown has hinted that the popular show may return next year and I can’t wait!

Chopped Junior

The kid version of the popular Chopped on Food Network is great for families with younger kids. Even older kids who love the grownup series will want to see other tweens and teens compete. Each episode of Chopped Junior features three different contestants who have to cook three meals for various judges. The least favorite gets eliminate, aka chopped, and the winner gets $10,000. It’s a fun, fast-paced show that will inspire all ages to work on their cooking skills.

Tags: cooking with kids, fun finds, healthy eating, tips and tricks

Tags: cooking with kids, fun finds, healthy eating, tips and tricks

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I stand by my belief that one of the best ways to teach kids math and science skills is through cooking. When I was in grade school, I remember asking my teacher about a difficult problem that didn’t make sense to me. I asked her to tell me how this would help me in life when I became an adult. I was all about things that were practical, so you can imagine algebra was a nightmare for me, and science wasn’t that close behind. I mean x + y = 12? What IS that? Cooking, though, I get that. You add things up in the right way, combine the correct ingredients, and bam, you have something delicious to eat. Cooking makes sense.

Ayva is really good with abstract theories so I don’t think she’ll have the same problems that I had with math and science. I don’t want to be left out of her learning experiences, though, so I discovered a way that I could be a part of it in a way that’s both practical and fun. Yup. Cooking. We are always in the kitchen testing out recipes. It’s one of our favorite things to do together.

Outside of the kitchen, we love to watch shows that are focused on food and cooking on Netflix. From Good Eats to Diners, Dine-Ins, and Dives, to the Netflix original series, “The Chef’s Table” there’s plenty for us to watch and learn from. Here are some of our favorite shows that we’ve been streaming this summer:

  1. Good Eats
  2. Cooked
  3. The Chef’s Table
  4. Worst Cooks in America
  5. Kids Baking Championship
  6. Cupcake Wars
  7. America’s Test Kitchen
  8. Rev Run’s Sunday Suppers
  9. Street Food Around the World
  10. I’ll Have What Phil’s Having

What’s your best tip for teaching your child something you’re not good at? Make sure to use Netflix as a resource. There are documentaries, whole seasons of television shows, and movies that will make sure you keep learning!

I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam and receive promotional items for my participation!

Some of the most-hyped cooking-show hosts don’t give a Swedish meatball if their recipes are loaded with fat or nearly impossible to duplicate (that’s right, Paula Deen, we’re talking about your 16-ingredient, 2-hour cinnamon rolls). And that’s fine if you’re watching purely for entertainment. But if you’re hungry for tips on better, fast, healthy food, you need to tune in to a WH-approved food guru.

To find TV chef role models who won’t make you fat or drive you crazy, we sat through countless hours of recipe-centric shows and rated each show based on how nutritious the ingredients were (we looked for lean meats, healthy fats, and lots of fresh produce), how easy the recipes were to make (no weird tools or advanced techniques), and how much fun the show was to watch (it is TV, after all). The following shows stood out in every category, but the better a show was, the more stars we gave it (four being tops). Whether you’re a dedicated foodie or a culinary virgin, here’s what to TiVo.

A Lyon in the Kitchen – Discovery Health

Nathan Lyon, a Los Angeles-based chef, farmers’ market fanatic, and 2006 finalist on The Next Food Network Star, is on a mission to get viewers to use seasonal, organic, locally grown ingredients (don’t worry, his recipes will taste just as good if you shop at a normal grocery store). We love his high-energy vibe — those muscular arms and pretty eyes don’t hurt, either.
Catchphrase “Great food starts fresh.”
Why it’s worthy Lyon starts each show at a California farmers’ market or specialty shop, giving tips on how to find the freshest herbs and produce. His ingredients of choice can leave your wallet a little lighter, but Lyon’s other motto is “Get the good stuff. You’re worth it.” Afterward, he takes it all home and guides viewers through recipes that, though easy, often have one too many steps. Counting calories isn’t his thing, but his all-natural meals are free of chemicals and additives. And he’s too in love with fresh food to drown it in fattening sauces.
Typical recipes Spice-rubbed turkey breast with maple-root vegetables; warm tri-beet salad with hand-torn croutons
Takeaway tip Examine the bottoms of cauliflower and broccoli for dry cracks or brown spots — two signs that the veggies are going bad.
RATINGS
**** good-for-you factor
** yes, you can make it
*** spills & thrills

Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger – Food Network

Krieger, a no-nonsense nutritionist, will remind you of your ninth-grade health teacher: perky and eager to share her passion for vitamins and fiber.
Catchphrase “Eating healthy can be hard when you’re juggling everyday life.”
Why it’s worthy Krieger’s dishes taste so rich (think peach French toast and warm spinach-and-artichoke dip), you’ll forget you ever lusted for a Big Mac. She keeps it simple (one recent show focused on five-ingredient recipes) but doesn’t rely on stuff from jars and bags to save steps. Some of her advice is a bit too basic (“Fish is not only good for you, it’s delicious”), but she’ll usually follow up a clunker with a totally surprising tip that will help you save calories and boost nutrients (one good example: steam veggies whole or in large pieces to retain the most vitamins and minerals).
Typical recipes Saffron chicken; boiled lemon and green bean salad; snow pea, scallion, and radish salad
Takeaway tip Use soft goat cheese in place of standard cow’s-milk cheeses — it has one third less fat.
RATINGS
*** good-for-you factor
*** yes, you can make it
** spills & thrills

Healthy Flavors – PBS

Down-to-earth, practical chef Jim Coleman is a poster boy for the belly-flattening perks of healthy eating: He lost an impressive 45 pounds after learning to lighten up his cooking style. For this popular PBS show, he teams up with the American Dietetic Association to put together low-cal, low-fat, nutrient-dense meals that will still satisfy sophisticated foodies. (He also has a weekly radio show called A Chef’s Table that’s downloadable at audible.com.)
Catchphrase “The best way to fight heart disease and diabetes is to go on the offensive.”
Why it’s worthy Now this is a healthy-cooking show. But, like so many other PBS endeavors, it can get weighed down by too much information — Coleman loves to explain why every single ingredient and technique he uses will help keep you out of the doctor’s office. Thank God he shakes things up from time to time with a few random food factoids (like explaining the etymology of shiitake, describing it as a “tree mushroom”). As you’d expect, Coleman’s dietician-sanctioned dishes are packed with whole grains, lean protein, and high-fiber veggies, so they definitely won’t leave you hungry. They’re also easy to make, and the subtle, natural flavors taste far richer than you’d expect.
Typical recipes Chicken breasts stuffed with apples and bulgur; whole-wheat linguine with walnut-spinach pesto; grilled tuna and cannellini-bean salad
Takeaway tip When making pie filling (like chocolate mousse), replace eggs with pre-whipped silken tofu to save on saturated fat and cholesterol.
RATINGS
**** good-for-you factor
*** yes, you can make it
* spills & thrills

Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller – Food Network

The Energizer Bunny-esque Miller is someone who could train for a marathon, manage a mutual fund, volunteer at a soup kitchen, and cook for her kids.
Catchphrase “I’ve got strategies for getting weeknight meals to the table–fast.”
Why it’s worthy Aiming her show at superwomen everywhere, Miller strives for healthy eating and efficiency, using carefully chosen packaged ingredients–sliced beets from a jar, frozen peas, dried mushrooms–to save time and money. Though she can seem high-strung, her cooking confidence is contagious. Watch her make a mouthwatering reduced-fat spaghetti carbonara in minutes, and you’ll want to scurry to the kitchen.
Typical recipes Curried butternut squash soup; wild mushrooms with sage; vegetarian fricassee
Takeaway tip After you cook meat, let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing or the juices will rush out and you’ll lose flavor.
RATINGS
*** good-for-you factor
**** yes, you can make it
** spills & thrills

Simply Delicioso – Food Network

Colombian-born Ingrid Hoffmann combines South American cuisine with a large helping of party-girl attitude.
Catchphrase “If I can do it, you can do it!”
Why it’s worthy Some call this domestic goddess the Latin American Martha Stewart, but we think otherwise: Can you imagine Martha serving rum Jell-O shots in place of dessert? Hoffmann wears retro prints, uses baby as an all-purpose noun (on salad dressing: “Let’s shake this baby up”), and gives nearly as much airtime to mixing drinks as to prepping food. Many of the simple dishes she prepares combine healthy ingredients (arugula, avocado, and fennel salad; fish tacos with salsa), and she usually kicks up the flavor with fruit and spices instead of fat.
Typical recipes Spicy scallop ceviche; mango, jicama, and radish salad with peanut dressing
Takeaway tip Use ground turkey instead of ground beef to save calories — just add extra seasoning.
RATINGS
* good-for-you factor
*** yes, you can make it
**** spills & thrills

Just Cook This – Discovery Health

With his frat-boy-turned-suburban-dad persona, Sam Zien can help any kitchen newbie learn how to cook.
Catchphrase “I don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen making really complicated stuff — that’s not how I roll.”
Why it’s worthy Zien’s guy-next-door shtick is charming, not phony. He’s low-key and spontaneous (he’ll ask the cameraman to test the food), yet his meals plate up pretty enough to serve at a holiday party. Though he doesn’t make “diet food,” he does address the issue of calories and cholesterol, offering healthier versions of fattening faves (he slims down his beloved “fat-boy spicy-sausage pasta” by using nonfat evaporated milk and whole-wheat pasta).
Typical recipes Gazpacho; vanilla-pudding crème brûlée
Takeaway tip Rely on garlic and red-pepper flakes to pump up the taste when cutting out fat.
RATINGS
*** good-for-you factor
**** yes, you can make it
**** spills & thrills

Take Home Chef – TLC

Towering, bleached-blond Aussie Curtis Stone ambushes strangers in the supermarket and convinces them to take him home. Between his accent, his blinding smile, and his promise to “chef up” a delicious meal, they can’t resist.
Catchphrase “We’ll come up with a menu, I’ll pay for the food, then we’ll cook a beautiful dinner together.”
Why it’s worthy Yes, the gimmick factor is through the roof, but Stone’s passion for impromptu dinner parties is inspiring (you’ll be planning a get-?together within minutes). His special-?occasion meals use seasonal ingredients, and they’re relatively low-fat and surprisingly easy, considering they look and taste so high-end — marinated skirt steak and ginger-poached striped bass are faves. (Note: His ingredients can be pricey — and Stone’s not picking up the tab for you.) He whips up a multicourse meal in limited time, so he usually has a few dishes going at once, but things never feel too frantic to keep up.
Typical recipes Spinach-and-ricotta ravioli with porcini; grilled pineapple skewers with coconut caramel sauce
Takeaway tip Instead of slaving over a gooey dessert, serve artisanal cheese and fruit after dinner.
RATINGS
** good-for-you factor
*** yes, you can make it
**** spills & thrills

Simply Ming – American Public Television

Ming Tsai is an Asian-American chef from Dayton, Ohio, who grew up helping his parents cook in their Chinese restaurant. He later got an engineering degree from Yale University, spent a summer at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school, and worked in restaurants in Paris and Osaka. His specialty: sauces that work with everything.
Catchphrase “Successful East-West cooking needs to harmoniously combine two distinct culinary approaches.”
Why it’s worthy Easygoing Tsai is all about flexibility. In each show, he often highlights a typically low-fat, low-cal sauce, rub, or vinaigrette (recent examples: spicy almond sauce, garlic-ginger-soy syrup, and cranberry-lemongrass sauce) that will add exotic flavor to anything you have in your fridge, from chicken breasts to salmon fillets. For added fun, celebrity chefs like Ted Allen and Todd English stop by to combine their favorite ingredients with Tsai’s fusion cooking techniques. For beginners, Tsai shares techniques the pros use to mince garlic, julienne leeks, slice onions…
Typical recipes Seared scallops with maitake-ginger-garlic cream; Kaffir lime-avocado pur?
Takeaway tip For perfect seared scallops, make sure they’re dry (blot with paper towels) and the oil is super-hot.
RATINGS
*** good-for-you factor
** yes, you can make it
*** spills & thrills

Cooking and Food Shows to Inspire Healthy Eating

New Yorkers prove to be a fairly healthy group when compared to Americans on the national scale. However, we are growing more obese, unfortunately. According to the NYC Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in the Journal of Urban Health (July 2018), the number of obese New Yorkers increased from 27 to 32 percent between 2004 and 2014. The gains were mostly found in men. The head of the study, Pasquale Rummo of the NYU School of Medicine, said that the weight gain coincided with a city-wide decrease in eating meals at home, according to The Daily News. We assume consuming take-out on your couch is the equivalent of eating out.

Are you eating out and taking in more calories than you bargained for? Look for inspiration to stay home and eat healthy with some new and classic cooking and food-related shows, many of which are available to stream with THIRTEEN Passport.

The French Chef with Julia Child

Julia Child, circa 1978. Credit: ©James Scherer for WGBH, Boston.

This classic program that premiered in 1963 on public television paved the way for cooking shows and is now available online for the first time with THIRTEEN Passport. In this rotating, special collection from its 300 episodes, chefs of all ages and abilities can share Julia Child’s love of authentic French food and learn to cook some of her most loved dishes. Who better to guiding you in roasting a turkey or chopping a three-course meal in less than 30 minutes? Her lessons are full of basic tips and explanations of the ingredients themselves. Watch The French Chef with Julia Child and learn some fun facts about Child, here.

Food – Delicious Science

This is the scientific story of your next meal. Over the course of three episodes, Michael Mosley and James Wong celebrate the physics, chemistry and biology hidden inside every bite. Watch Food – Delicious Science now.

James Wong is a botanist, science writer and broadcaster based in London, England. Holding a Master of Science degree in Ethnobotany, he has pursued his key research interests of underutilized crop species, ethnopharmacology and traditional food systems through field work in rural Ecuador, Java and China.

Michael Mosley studied medicine in London and qualified as a doctor but for the last 25 years he’s been working as a documentary maker and an award-winning science journalist.

In Defense of Food

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” With that seven-word maxim, journalist Michael Pollan distills a career’s worth of reporting into a prescription for reversing the damage being done to people’s health by today’s industrially driven Western diet.

In Defense of Food debunks the daily media barrage of conflicting claims about nutrition. Traveling the globe and the supermarket aisles to illustrate the principles of his bestselling “eater’s manifesto,” Pollan offers a clear answer to one of the most confounding and urgent questions of our time: What should I eat to be healthy? Watch In Defense of Food now.

America Revealed: The Food Machine

Host Yul Kwon explores the systems that feed 300 million Americans every day. He discovers engineering marvels we’ve created by putting nature to work and takes a look at the costs of our insatiable appetite on our health and environment. See the supply chain that leads to your pizza delivery, including the the delivery man’s routes in a single night. And find out the way corn makes its way into a third of products sold in the average grocery store. Watch America Revealed: The Food Machine now.

A carnival of meat, sugar, and celebrity roils on a wide cement pier jutting off the edge of Manhattan into the Hudson River. Bobby Flay is brushing pork ribs with rust-red Korean barbecue sauce and handing them to a group of Instagramming fans. One hundred and fifty paces along the tented pier, past heaving chefs spit-roasting venison with mole and plums, past apple pie–spiced pulled pork sliders with chipotle and bacon mac ’n’ cheese, and just before a serving station offering “housemade Spam” on buttered rolls, is a tray of rapidly vanishing desserts.

Here, deep into the “Coca-Cola Backyard BBQ,” a $175-a-ticket, all-you-can-eat event that is part of the annual Food Network and Cooking Channel New York City Wine and Food Festival, aggressive ticketholders are still holding Chef Michael Symon’s kielbasa-spiced beef ribs on paper plates as they elbow forward to get at s’mores cake pops. These, produced oxymoronically by a company called Just Cupcakes, are rounds of fudgy chocolate cake, rifled with caramel, cloaked in marshmallow, and impaled on a stick.

As a young woman with a blowtorch puts the finishing scorch on the last dozen of the erect treats, a live band rips into an appropriate song, “Ophelia,” by the Band: The old neighborhood just ain’t the same / Nobody knows just what became of Ophelia / Tell me, what went wrong?

What, indeed? When did Food Network start encouraging us to get fat?

Back in 1993 when Food Network debuted on cable, trained chefs like Sara Moulton taught viewers the difference between kale and chard. Brainiacs like David Rosengarten used a daily program called Food News and Views to debate federal nutrition guidelines. One of Flay’s first recipes on his first show, Grillin’ and Chillin’, was rosemary-marinated chicken thighs. It sounds as healthy as steel-cut oatmeal compared to what the channel’s stars are slinging these days.

Paula Deen is gone from Food Network, but her buttery, frosted spirit lives on, y’all. We’ve gone beyond chefs being rock stars — now they’re hawking pans on QVC and leasing their names in Vegas and Dubai. A hedge fund titan paid Guy Fieri $100,000 to pal around Connecticut dives for a day. Meanwhile, ABC’s The Chew attracts as many viewers as The View, and The Pioneer Woman is considered an embodiment of American family values. Maybe it’s time to stop chewing for a minute, take a restorative breath, and consider what we’re being fed.

Somewhere along the line, mainstream food TV changed its diet — and maybe yours. A recent spate of research strongly indicates that food TV can rewire the brain. When you see Fieri pounding pork belly po’boys with maple mayonnaise, you may subconsciously feel permitted to eat more yourself.

Who among us has not fallen victim to what befell Duncan Shields, a video game animator in Vancouver, Canada? Shields was on a treadmill in the gym when he saw a Food Network show touting a local diner, Deacon’s Corner, and its Big Mountie breakfast special. Resistance was futile: “It was like watching a nice fantasyland,” he told me. Within days he found himself at Deacon’s digging into a slice of brioche French toast topped with pulled pork topped by more French toast topped by Swiss cheese and fried chicken topped with more French toast topped with two sunny-side up eggs.

Credit to Shields: He didn’t finish it.

The question Food Network and its competitors face as evidence mounts that they are contributing to the nation’s obesity is whether it is even possible for them to add enough fiber back into their programming to make it a little less deadly, while keeping their viewers entertained. That might not even be possible: Food entertainment may have not merely jumped the shark, but processed the shark’s meat into nuggets, coated them with brown sugar habanero beer batter, and deep-fried them beyond healthy redemption. If food media can’t or won’t change, how do we fight back against its influence?

When Food Network started, there were very few TV food celebrities, and most of them, like Julia Child and Jeff Smith, the Frugal Gourmet, were relegated to weekend shows on PBS. Flay says that the main requirement to be on New York–based Food Network in the early days was the ability to get there by subway. The “talent,” like Tyler Florence, Mario Batali, and Emeril Lagasse, were chefs first, not performers. They soberly taught the network’s very few viewers what they had learned in culinary school and restaurant kitchens.

The modern incarnation of food TV as spectacle first stirred at the Big Feast on the Beach in Miami in 1994, a food festival organized by a chef-obsessed rock ’n’ roll promoter, Shep Gordon. By bringing his clients — rockers Alice Cooper and Sammy Hagar and actor Michael Douglas — along to cook with Food Network talent, he aimed to sell fans on the idea that chefs were rock stars and celebrities, too. When Lagasse, a Gordon client, kicked things up a notch in 1997 with his catchphrases — Bam! — and a live band, Food Network ratings improved. Alton Brown’s food nerd bonanza Good Eats added a creative twist, and then the successful debut of the original Japanese Iron Chef in 1993 showed campy food competition as a primetime main course.

But the network didn’t start to earn big profits until Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals debuted after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Here was a chipper, neighborly young woman and cookbook author showing a frazzled nation how to find its way back to the simplicity of home cooking. It was a welcome salve, but the resulting drive to deliver more comfort food got twisted.

Throughout the early 2000s, internal Food Network research reports urged it to show fewer chefs, more relatable personalities, and more desserts — to be more “stimulating.” The network had begun to understand, explains Susie Fogelson, who rose to be the head of marketing at Food Network during her 15 years there starting in 2001, that viewers didn’t want to watch it while standing in their own kitchens chopping.

“They wanted to lean back and be entertained” by the spectacle of food, she told me. “The more indulgent and spectacular — that could be pizza tossing, it could be mixology – the better. It could be oversized food. It’s about the entertainment value of cooking.”

It worked. A generation of eminently watchable household names was minted: Ina Garten, Giada De Laurentiis, Sandra Lee, Paula Deen, and more. Sometimes they cooked healthy, sometimes not; the business of the Food Network and its then–parent company Scripps Network Interactive, was clear to its stockholders if not its fans: They wanted more viewers to whom they could market toothpaste, cars, and whatever else advertisers were selling. It wasn’t that the network instructed certain chefs to up the calorie count. It was that they canceled those who didn’t.

“Towards the end,” said Sara Moulton, a classically trained chef whose Cooking Live ran from 1996 until 2005, “they didn’t want me to do a vegetarian show. They didn’t want me to use the V-word and they didn’t want me to talk about healthy cooking.” By the time Fieri won Next Food Network Star in 2005 and, in 2007, launched Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, the pattern was set. Newer stars, like Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, perform TV tricks like adding extra cheese to regular pizza and pasta, transforming them, the Food Network website promises, “into especially decadent dishes.”

The problem is that some people eat what they see on Food Network. Defenders claim that viewers of shows like “Triple D” crave cheeseburger porn because they are engaging in “vicarious gluttony.” By watching, “you fulfill the drive to eat those gluttonous foods so you don’t have to actually eat them,” explained Lizzy Pope, a professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont, who tested the argument in a study called “Viewers vs. Doers.”

The results were more disturbing than she and her coauthor expected, and were similar to those of a University of Michigan study. Viewers of any food TV shows who reported cooking at home frequently had higher body mass indexes (BMIs) than those viewers who did not cook as frequently. In plain pounds, the food TV watchers who cooked were about 12 pounds heavier on average than those not inspired to make smashed potatoes by food TV chefs. The widely believed idea that cooking at home is nearly always better for you than eating in a restaurant may not be true if what is inspiring you to cook at home are Food Network shows.

In the Michigan study, conducted with undergraduate students, researcher Adam Kern concluded that those who watched either educational cooking shows or “edutainment” (competition-type) shows were far more likely to be binge eaters than those who watched little food TV. Combine this with a 2012 study showing that increased exposure to fast-food advertising causes increases in body fat in adolescents, especially males, and 2011 academic research concluding that children who see enough ads for soft drinks and fast food will eat and drink more of those items, and there are strong indications that the more junk one sees on TV, the more likely one will eat junk.

It’s easy to blame carb-slingers like Fieri for the unhealthiness of what’s served on Food Network. But changes in the business of cable television have forced the network to become more reliant on the few shows that still deliver viewers. Pressures to preserve profits in a shrinking industry are why Scripps agreed in 2017 to be acquired by Discovery Networks (which got Food Network, HGTV, and the rest of the Scripps portfolio in the deal), and why on any given night Food Network runs hours of Fieri shows back to back. Nothing else beats the ratings.

Efforts over the years to establish vegan and healthy cooking shows failed, said former Food Network executive Bruce Seidel, who helped develop Iron Chef America. Not enough viewers wanted to watch shows about cooking kale, “unless it was kale mac and cheese,” he told me.

To give Food Network its due, you can find your spirulina on its website. “The ‘healthy’ topic has a somewhat more significant presence within our digital assets,” network spokeswoman Irika Slavin told me, “where we can offer audiences more specific packages of content without having to be mindful of whatever a specific series has going on within its narrative.”

In other words, trying to force healthier recipes onto a season of Trisha Yearwood’s show Trisha’s Southern Kitchen in which she is primarily discussing Mama’s Fried Chicken With Gravy, could take away the escapist pleasure of spending time in the star’s orbit.

At least one Food Network show offers to lead novices into the kitchen. Worst Cooks in America promises that pretty much anyone can be taught to cook. If a newbie’s first successful home-cooked meal is fried chicken with honey mustard dipping sauce, their fifth or 50th might be spaghetti squash with roasted tomato sauce and chard. The kitchen path has many forks.

But if you’re not a new cook, and if you’ve already watched enough food TV to be able to tell crème brûlée from flan, maybe it’s time to take the food TV path less traveled. If you’re going to improve the way you eat, you ought to consider improving what you watch. You don’t go to mass market fast-food restaurants expecting to be served something healthy, dietitian Valerie Berkowitz told me. So why would you expect mass-market food TV to do so? To eat better stuff, watch better stuff. Start a diet with your eyes and your waist may follow.

Blocking social media feeds (“Feeds.” Interesting word, right?) from relentless brownie posters, as Pope suggests, is one way to start. But the next step is more fiber in your TV intake. Shows like the classy Chef’s Table on Netflix and even Action Bronson’s Fuck, That’s Delicious on Vice have found a new formula that does not rely on the stunt cooking of shows like Alton Brown’s latest Food Network competition show Cutthroat Kitchen. Netflix, Vice, and narrowly focused YouTube channels for vegans, gluten-free eaters, whole grain bakers, sugar-free dessertists, and explorers of every world cuisine are delivering content that can be healthy and respect the artistry and cultural heritage of great cooks.

Or, at least try to do as Shields, the animator, does, and use Food Network’s stacks of French toast as inspiration to intensify your workouts, telling your sweating self, ‘I can have that one day.’ That s’mores pop? “It’s what you’re working towards,” Shields said. Not every day; maybe only rarely. But sometimes.