Order In Before Watching These Shows
Since being quarantined we’ve had lots of time to catch up on popular shows and movies, and maybe even rewatch some old favorites. Some of my favorite series right now happen to be about food, so while we can’t travel the world eating at various street markets, top-rated restaurants, or sidewalk cafes, we can watch other people do it! There’s something so inspiring about food-travel TV and these shows get me excited to eventually travel and eat out again. This list of course includes the classic required viewings, but also some series you never would’ve watched if it weren’t for an adventure-deprived pandemic! Here are some binge-worthy shows that showcase the best chefs, restaurants, and markets around the world:
1. Chef’s Table
If you haven’t seen at LEAST one episode of Chef’s Table yet, you’re missing out. This beautifully shot series combines the art of travel, cinematography, journalism, and of course food! With 30 episodes, there’s one for everyone. Whether you want to escape to Tuscany and meet a traditional butcher, visit a famous female chef in Slovenia, or stay right here in LA with Nancy Silverton from Mozza and La Brea you’re sure to be entertained… and hungry.
Photo courtesy of Netflix
David Chang's show Ugly Delicious has quite a laid back, almost vlog-like feel as he travels around visiting foodie friends in their homes and restaurants, and he even documents important moments in his own life. There’s more to it than just cooking of course, each episode seems to tackle a broader issue that reaches beyond cooking and dining. Whether it’s brutal kitchen culture, juggling parenting and being a top chef, powerful childhood memories of food, or the racial history of “soul food”, David Chang’s show will touch your heart, mind, and stomach! My favorite episode is “Stuffed” (Season 1, Episode 8) where Asian dumplings face off against the Italian tortellini, and the chefs explore the history behind stuffed dough traditions across all nations. All twelve episodes are available on Netflix.
If you’re not addicted to Samin Nosrat’s infectious laugh and perfect focaccia yet, you will be after this series. In just four episodes, Samin explores the four elements that can “make or break a dish”. Each episode is incredibly warm and inviting as she travels from Northern Italy, to Japan, to Yucatán, and back to California. Not to mention it is oddly satisfying to watch her unpack ingredients from taste and texture to social impact and history. I felt smarter and much happier after watching this series on Netflix!
Photo Courtesy of Netflix
I’m sure by now you’ve watched Jon Favreau’s Chef movie with Sofia Vergara and Scarlett Johanssen (if not, do that now), and now there’s a show featuring chefs and friends getting together across the US for the love of food. When making the movie Jon enlisted the help of Roy Choi, a famous LA chef known for the Koji food truck (aka the mother of korean-mexican fusion we all know and love). They became fast friends and a passion for food was ignited in Favreau. The show follows the two of them meeting with chefs all across the US, cooking together and chatting about food. They visit Pizzana in Brentwood, meet with Gweneth Paltrow, and cook with David Chang of Momofuku Noodle Bar.
Maybe you’re somewhat new to the world that is food-travel television, and you want an easy introduction to get you hooked– then this is the show for you! It’s hosted by Phil Rosenthal (creator of “Everybody Loves Raymond), and his only real qualifications is that he loves to travel and eat– and don’t we all! In three short seasons he travels to 17 different cities to try their best dishes and interact with local cuisine. It’s perfectly palatable and offers some good basic insight into the culinary wonders of the world without feeling too pretentious.
Photo Courtesy of Netflix
If you REALLY want to immerse yourself in a culinary masterpiece, watch Taco Chronicles on Netflix. It’s in spanish and delves into the intricate and beautiful world of tacos in ways I didn’t think was possible. Each episode– there’s only six – explores a different style of taco so pick your favorite or binge them all! Be warned that you will want to have some real tacos on deck while watching.
David Chang is back again with another show that really hits the spot. This lighthearted travel series sees David visit four different cities with four different celebrities, eating the three meals of the day together. They’re both mouthwatering and hilarious, which is only expected seeing that his guests include Seth Rogen, Chrissy Teigan, Lena Waithe, and Kate McKinnon. Lena Waithe’s episode is set in LA if you’re looking to discover something new here! Available on Netflix.
8. Street Food
Photo Courtesy of Netflix
Right now you can binge all of Street Food Asia, and on July 21st you can watch Street Food Latin America on Netflix. Made by the same geniuses behind Chef’s Table, Street Food Asia’s nine episodes explores nine different cities from Indonesia to Vietnam, to South Korea, and finishes up in the Philippines. The show highlights the incredible craftsmanship and rich history behind the popular street foods of each city.
These shows barely scratch the surface of the wonderful world of food-tv, don’t forget about classic competition shows like Top Chef and my favorite Chopped on Hulu, or if you need something wholesome in your life check out Great British Baking Show (one of the kindest competition shows out there). Or, maybe you need something in smaller doses, in which case I recommend Bon Appetit’s youtube channel, specifically Brad Leone’s It’s Alive series where he travels to different parts of the world trying different fermentation, curing, and general eating practices. It’s honestly hilarious and unlike anything you’ve seen before. Either way, there’s plenty of ways to satisfy your travel cravings during the quarantine, just be sure to order your favorite takeout before you start bingeing!