The 10 best food TV shows to watch on lockdown

Isolation draws us into a closer relationship with the telly but food TV offers more than just a chance to catch up on recipes and techniques. Over recent years, programmes have moved away from “stand and stir” and are now an excellent excuse for all manner of science, cultural history, humour, escapism and pure entertainment.

Anthony Bourdain

Amazon Prime, 2002-2018

I love a tight 27 minutes on thrifty ways with mince as much as the next food nerd but, with everyone else gone to bed and everything else going to hell, it’s always going to be me and Anthony Bourdain. I love the early stuff such as A Cook’s Tour (2002-3, Food Network/Amazon Prime) which see him reeling around Ho Chi Minh City, dressed like Joe Strummer and jabbering into a lo-fi, hand-held video camera. But there is so much more to choose from. No Reservations (2005-12,Travel Channel/Amazon Prime) allowed Bourdain nine seasons to develop his compelling combination of chill and total engagement with his subject. By around season four, any idea of “celebrity chef” is subsumed in a search for challenging locations, fascinating and underrepresented people and increasingly honest examinations of his own flawed past. Parts Unknown (2013-18, CNN/Amazon Prime) contains my two favourite episodes. New Jersey (season 5, episode 6) is an elegiac film that sees him visiting his childhood home with his brother, and in Rome (season 8, episode 9) he is guided around the city by Asia Argento, with whom he later formed a relationship.

Chef’s Table

Netflix, 2015-present

Did you enjoy This Is Spinal Tap or the The Life of Rock with Brian Pern? The comedy of spoof “rockumentary” lies in the uncalibrated self-regard of the subjects and the breathless complicity of the film-maker, so you’re going to love Chef’s Table. From the bombastic Vivaldi over the titles to the shots of Dan Barber, running while philosophising, or Francis Mallmann on his private island, hewing logs and talking about the creative power of sex, it’s difficult to imagine that the first series wasn’t all an expensively executed troll. But that was back in 2015, when we wanted our chefs to be artist/gods/rockstars of their generation and American documentary-makers still had little enough irony to support the idea.

As the series progressed they began to profile more female chefs and some of the resulting shows are outstanding. Jeong Kwan, cooking at the Chunjinam Hermitage in South Korea is therapeutic to watch, Cristina Martinez at the South Philly Barbacoa and Mashama Bailey at The Grey in Savannah, Georgia are inspiring, and our own Asma Khan is given space to properly expand on Indian food in the UK. Someone, somewhere turned down the ego dial.

The Taco Chronicles

Netflix, 2019

Carlos Perez Osorio’s show will make you believe that there might actually be a future for intelligent food programmes on TV. Each of the six half-hour episodes covers a different type of taco in obsessive depth. The show is in Spanish and subtitled, a serious deep dive into the subject, but delivered with a brilliant tone – fantastically, poetically hyperbolic about street food, enthusiastic but self-aware.

The Chef Show

Netflix, 2019 to present

Jon Favreau is a producer and actor who starred in the movie Chef, with his chef mate Roy Choi, and quite fancies himself as a chef. In The Chef Show (see what he did there?), they hang out in the borrowed kitchens of their Hollywood buddies. It has about as much script or editorial control as a podcast, but with full quality video. What is most noticeable is that there’s no attempt to give recipes … in fact, all the ingredients seem to arrive pre-prepped and measured in tiny plastic pots. I want to hate the OG bro-fest format, but it’s actually compelling if you relax into it.

Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent

Netflix, 2016

A feature-length documentary about the man who managed to arrive in San Francisco just in time to be a driving force in California cuisine. His rise from untrained kitchen boy at Chez Panisse to the very peak of his industry, his acclaimed restaurant, Stars, and his catastrophic crash-and-burn makes for a brilliant, unflinching profile.

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

Netflix, 2018

Samin Nosrat is another graduate of Chez Panisse whose highly successful 2017 book Salt, Fat, Acid Heat was quickly turned into a four-part docuseries. The book’s simple idea of breaking cooking down into four conceptual basics enables her to travel the world in search of examples. Like our own Nadiya Hussain, she’s a natural presenter whose integrity and enthusiasm draws you in.

Ugly Delicious

(Netflix, 2018-present)

Presented by culinary wunderkind David Chang of the celebrated Momofuku restaurant group. There are parts of the early shows that are big on chest-beating, high-fiving, alpha-malery, but in the most recent he turns to important cultural issues around global cooking. He also discovers he’s going to become a dad, sheds an actual tear, and then teaches us all how to make baby food. OK, it’s a kind of predictable conversion but, if you start watching them in reverse order, they’re very enjoyable.

The Mind of a Chef

PBS, 2012-2017 – season 6 on Facebook

Takes a similarly hagiographic approach as Chef’s Table but allows each featured chef more space to cook. Gabrielle Hamilton – troubled, driven, phenomenally talented – comes across particularly well. It’s probably to her credit that our own April Bloomfield actually looks uncomfortable throughout her episodes, awkwardly attempting Delia-esque presentation while the directors try to extract some sort of life philosophy or grandiose soundbite out of her. It’s actually charming and should make us proud.

Source: The Guardian

Filed Under: TrendsWine and Food

About the Author

Passion and love for my work has helped me to explore and travel to many places all over the planet. There is an amazing amount of food variety, quality and flavor combinations out there. Here, we would like to present you with some ideas; some maybe new, some old, some healthy, some sweet, some spicy, but mostly; just simply delicious and for you to enjoy! Best Wishes and Great Dishes

Comments are closed.