Last Updated: April 24th
People, I think this concept is pretty self-explanatory. We like good food shows. Netflix has some. They keep swapping them in and out which makes it hard to keep this list current, but we’ll do our best. Here are the best cooking shows on Netflix streaming, available right now.
9. Testing The Menu
1 season, 6 episodes | IMDb: 5.5/10
Testing the Menu is a show shot in New Zealand starring chef Nic Watt, in which he tests out recipes for his Japanese restaurants on the New Zealand public. It’s not the most fast-paced show (New Zealanders have long attention spans, I think they only got electricity a few years ago), and Watt, who’s kind of a dork, cooks a brand of Asian fusion cuisine that may have limited utility in your home kitchen. But the show is pretty great as a slice of New Zealand life. Watt tends to test his recipes on the street in Auckland, and most of the accidental cast of characters is worthy of a Christopher Guest movie. Or at least, a Taika Waititi movie.
8. Avec Eric
1 season, 12 episodes | IMDb: 7.3/10
Avec Eric is a lot like a Bourdain show, only starring Bourdain’s French buddy who wears beaded bracelets, Eric Ripert. Ripert’s thick French accent doesn’t have quite the same charm as, say, Jacques Pepin, but then, whose does. Ripert doesn’t exactly jump off the screen at you, but he knows his food, so you know he’s not going to eat a lot of bullsh*t or feed us any. Avec Eric doesn’t have quite the flourish of other shows, and Ripert isn’t the most charismatic host alive, but it has a strong mix of exotic food/authoritative host/and pandering-free production. Ripert tends to goes to far-flung places to eat non-snobby food, which is exactly what I want from a food show.
7. Chef’s Table
6 seasons, 30 episodes | IMDb: 8.6/10
Chef’s Table is a show produced in-house by Netflix focusing on one famous chef per show. This is really the show for you if you’re obsessed with chefs and fine dining and the sort of mystique of the restaurant industry. For my tastes, it’s a little elite and snobby (I’m the kind of foodie who will take you to a taco truck and refuses to wait in line more than a half hour for anything), and it has way too many talking heads you’ve never heard of whose entire job seems to be looking like an intellectual. It desperately needs an Anthony Bourdain character who despises snobby bullsh*t to cut through some of the fluff. On the plus side, it’s gorgeously shot and features some of the best chefs in the world with cinematography that almost redefines food porn.
1 season, 4 episodes | IMDb: 8.1/10
Cooked is Netflix’s other in-house food show flagship, executive produced by author Michael Pollan and human documentary machine Alex Gibney. I wasn’t sure what to think about this one since I read Botany of Desire in grad school and find Pollan to be at times… a little too fascinated with things, let’s say. But Cooked actually feels like it was made specifically for someone like me, who finds Chef’s Table kind of snobby, and who’s more about home cooking. Cooked and Chef’s Table are sort of a deconstructed No Reservations, with Chef’s Table handling the fancy restaurant stuff and Cooked much more concerned with history, culture, and the everyday cook. In the “Fire” episode they go to the outback and learn about the history of flame-cooking meats. They go to India and talk about “pot cooking,” as a window into the different attitudes toward food preparation in different cultures. I worried it’d be bloviating or over-intellectualized, but it’s mostly just well constructed and incredibly informative. Really good show.
5. A Cook Abroad
1 season, 6 episodes | IMDb: 7.4/10
A Cook Abroad is sort of like Parts Unknown, but with a rotating host. At its best, it’s totally unique, like the episode where Glasgow-born (and thickly accented) Sikh chef Tony Singh visits his parents’ homeland, which was at least as touching as it was delicious-looking. It’s also very BBC, like when biker/Mediterranean chef Dave Meyer is traveling Egypt, and at one point just starts shouting words at a street food vendor and patrons, none of whom speak English. There are a good five minutes of that, people saying words neither side can understand. It makes you wonder, “Really? You guys couldn’t even spring for an interpreter?” But that’s part of the fun of the BBC, that an otherwise professional-looking show will retain some its public television wars, where they just go somewhere and start shooting with no apparent plan whatsoever. I haven’t seen the entire season, and it clearly varies based on the charisma of the host (Tony Singh, in particular, was a delight) but so far I’m sold.
4. The Great British Baking Show
5 seasons, 50 episodes | IMDb: 8.6/10
The Great British Bake Off (and this slightly retitled American version) is guilty pleasure binge material for so many that it’s no wonder it shows up here. If I watch other cooking shows to travel to exotic places and vicariously experience strange foods, GBBS is kind of the opposite of that. Its strength is that it’s goofily charming. And we’ve become so accustomed to camera-hogging reality villains and performative not-here-to-make-friendsing that a show featuring charming grandmas and shy Brits is really a breath of fresh air. It almost works more like a mockumentary than a cooking show.
3. I’ll Have What Phil’s Having
1 season, 6 episodes | IMDb: 8.5/10
I’m a little biased on account of I’ve been to Phil Rosenthal’s house, but let the record show that I was a big fan of both Phil and his show long before I took any bribes. Thing about Phil is, part of the reason I liked him in the first place is that he always seemed like the kind of guy who’d invite you over to his house way before I knew first-hand that he really is. Phil, who created Everybody Loves Raymond and must be worth unimaginable sums of money, is a kind of everyman Anthony Bourdain, and I think there’s a tremendous value in that. He doesn’t seem like an adventurous guy, and then he gets put into these situations where he’s eating a pond loach or some crazy thing and he turns into a pretty adventurous guy. I won’t restate what I’ve already written here, but the scene where Phil makes egg creams for his Japanese hosts goes right to the heart of what I find “meaningful” about the act of cooking, eating, writing and talking about food and travel with family and friends.
2. The Mind Of A Chef
5 seasons, 85 episodes | IMDb: 8/10
Mind of a Chef is a food show Anthony Bourdain produces for PBS, which is already a walk-off home run in my mind, combining as it does the Michael Jordan of food shows and my favorite network for food programming that’s neither elitist fluff nor populist bullsh*t. Basically, Anthony Bourdain finds a moderately-known chef to play Anthony Bourdain for a whole or a half season (the first season’s host is David Chang). Food porn, travelogues, historical stuff, interesting characters — it’s Parts Unknown/No Reservations with some new blood. And the best part? The episodes are about 20 minutes long, which in my opinion is about optimal for Netflix food-show binging.
1. Parts Unknown
5 seasons, 36 episodes | IMDb: 8.7/10
Once upon a ti,me I was resistant to Bourdain, with his pretentious voiceovers and cool-guy cowboy boots — tell me about New York back when it was still dangerous, Mr. Bourdain! — but I’ve long since warmed up to him, and there’s a reason I’ve compared virtually every show on this list to Bourdain’s. He’s the gold standard. You get food porn, aspirational travel stuff, famous chefs, and of course Bourdain himself. He’s idiosyncratic, but the more you watch him, the more you like him. Netflix has five seasons to choose from.