The Netflix original docu-series Cooked kicks off on February 19, spearheaded by chef Michael Pollan. Pollan explores the history of food preparation and cooking through the lenses of the four natural elements: fire, water, air and earth.
If you love food and cooking, this guide to Netflix’s food-driven programs may add to your culinary talents in the kitchen. On the other hand, if you love food, but aren’t much of a cook, you may learn a trick or two. Either way, we can live vicariously through the hard work of these chefs, whether Michelin-starred, amateur or somewhere in between.
You probably already know this, but please be warned: Don’t watch the below on an empty stomach:
1. Chef’s Table
Who better to learn from than world-renowned chefs from around the world? In Chef’s Table, each episode features a single chef, and we’re invited into the chef’s world. We’ll go shopping for ingredients, into the kitchen, and learn about the history of each chef. The 2015 series features Massimo Bottura, Dan Barber, Francis Mallmann, Niki Nakayama, Ben Shewry, and Magnus Nilsson.
2. Worst Cooks in America
You may have been flipping TV channels and come across this show and without knowing what it was, thought, “These people aren’t very good at cooking?” Well, that’s the point. Worst Cooks in America, which premiered in 2010, invites amateur cooks, or not cooks at all, to compete by re-creating what they learn in the kitchen that day from top chefs. We may not want to actually eat the food, but it’s fun to watch.
3. Spinning Plates
The 2013 documentary film Spinning Plates focuses on three very different restaurants: Breitbach’s Country Dining, in Balltown, Iowa; La Cocina de Gabby in Tucson, AZ; and Achatz’s Alinea in Chicago, IL. The story goes beyond the food, looking into the communities and why these staffs are so committed (even in tough times).
4. America’s Test Kitchen
America’s Test Kitchen has been a “main dish” on PBS since 2001. Cook’s Illustrated magazine’s editor-in-chief Christopher Kimball hosts the long-running show. Yes, that is him in the screen shot below dressed as a … tomato? He clearly has a sense of humor. He makes cooking fun, and the recipes demonstrated on the show can actually be made in your own kitchen.
5. Throwdown with Bobby Flay
Celebrity chef Bobby Flay takes his show on the road in Throwdown with Bobby Flay. He goes to restaurants known for a specific dish or type of food and challenges the chefs to a cook-off. It’s hard to decide who to cheer for in this situation. The series aired from 2006-2010.
6. Soul Food Junkies
The 2012 film Soul Food Junkies examines the history and modern-day consumption of “soul food.” While tasty, the sometimes fatty, fried food could be deemed harmful to people’s health in the long run. The film talks about the cultural ties the food has with the African-American community, while exploring lighter ways to cook the cuisine and still hold onto tradition.
7. Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
You may know Anthony Bourdain as a guest judge on Top Chef. Or from his travel show Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. Actually, you may just know him because he is easily recognizable. His show, Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, takes him to lesser-known locations with even lesser-known dishes. The show premiered in 2013 and is still airing on CNN.
8. Three Stars
The 2010 documentary Three Stars takes us behind the scenes of a trio of three-star Michelin restaurants. The film follows top chefs Jean-Georges Vongerichten, René Redzepi and Hideki Ishikawa. The film teaches us the difference between two and three-stars and what it takes to stay on top.
9. Kings of Pastry
The 2010 French documentary follows master pastry chefs as they make their way to Lyon to compete for the high-profile award, the Meilleur Ouvrier de France. The President of France bestows the winner the honor of wearing the prestigious blue, white and red striped collar. There are 16 finalists featured in the film, narrowed down from 80 semi-finalists, who compete over three days, with just one winner.
10. Girl Eat World
Kamini Pather won MasterChef South Africa in 2013. She stars in her own show Girl Eat World. A huge food blog reader, she follows bloggers’ suggestions and ends up in the featured locations, tasting the cuisines. The series premiered in 2015.
Did you have any takeaways from the shows?Read More