The Best Food Shows to Binge Watch
If you’re a foodie looking to expand your cooking knowledge through TV food shows, here are a couple of food show staples for your playlist.
I’ll Bring the Wine with Nederburg
Nederburg’s I’ll Bring the Wine, takes viewers on a journey of ‘South Africa’s cultures, people and tastes’ while reimagining local favourite dishes. Legendary South African chef, food writer and restaurateur, Karen Dudley, hosts the show. Her spellbinding voice and effortless charm immediately draw you in; the ease of conversation and diverse range of topics explored by featured experts make this a riveting watch.
A journey of ‘South Africa’s cultures, people and tastes’ while reimagining local favourite dishes.
The five-part YouTube series features some of the nation’s culinary pioneers, including acclaimed chef of Emazulwini Restaurant, Mmabatho Molefe, and molecular biologist/Afro ice cream extraordinaire, Tapiwa Guzha.
Takeaway: get to know local culinary pioneers.
Make one of these Nederburg wine-paired recipes before tucking into this show.
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown will always remain a gem. The documentary food and travel series provides a lens into diverse communities that are worlds apart. Bourdain’s love for travel and natural ability to connect with people over a couple of beers and candid conversations at hole-in-the-wall restaurants gives rare human insight.
Each episode makes you fall in love with Bourdain’s wide-eyed curiosity and authenticity.
With his crass humour, curiosity and empathy, this series makes us challenge preconceived notions about cultures, people and food.
Takeaway: the late chef taught us many invaluable lessons about food and politics, and for that, we are ever grateful!
Cooked delves deep into the world of food and culture. Based on the book ‘Cooked’ by Michael Pollan, the show explores the four elements involved in cooking: fire, water, air, and earth. The four-part series provides unique human insight into how different cultures and communities utilise these elements to create cuisines, while touching on culinary gender roles and how our relationship with food has evolved from our origins until today.
From the tradition of barbecue in the American South to the importance of fire in Australian Aboriginal communities, the thought-provoking series reminds us that food is at the heart of communion.
Takeaway: great insight into the history of food and the core elements involved.
Home cooks and food show fans who have ever wondered ‘what would I have made’ will love Pressure Cooker. The cooking competition involves a series of challenges among eleven private and restaurant chefs placed under one roof – the plot twist is that there are no judges and the chefs have to eliminate contestants among themselves.
Chefs are naturally competitive and with rules thrown out the window, power dynamics and strategy come into play.
Think ‘Come Dine With Me’ meshed with ‘My Kitchen Rules’ but at pro-level.
Takeaway: as creative as food can be, you’ve gotta taste the love too.
SALT FAT ACID HEAT
For those who prefer series over books, Salt Fat Acid Heat should be at the top of your list. Cook, teacher and author, Samin Nosrat, explores the four basic elements required in cooking: salt, fat, acid and heat. She explains how each element uniquely transforms the composition/texture and enhances the flavour of various foods. This docuseries has four episodes dedicated to each element and is explored in four different countries – Japan, Italy, Mexico and the United States (California).
Nosrat steps into homes, villages, restaurants and factories to discover the best-kept secrets of each element.
Apart from the sheer brilliance of this docuseries, her gentle, yet conversational approach to teaching, learning and cooking makes this food show captivating and wholesome.
Takeaway: super informative for budding chefs.
The concept of Asian cuisine has become over-westernised – for many, Chinese cuisine is limited to chow mein and fried rice, when it’s actually incredibly diverse and differs provincially. Flavourful Origins is a beautiful docuseries that focuses on regional produce and traditional Chinese methods of cooking in the Yunnan and Guangdong provinces.
This docuseries may not be on your radar but it’s definitely worth watching if you’re fascinated by Chinese and Asian cuisine – not to mention the cinematography is stunning!
It’s highly informative and the perfect choice if you’re not into lengthy series (each episode is less than 14 minutes). To better grasp the authenticity of this docuseries, we suggest you watch it in the original audio, Mandarin, with English subtitles.
Takeaway: food is prepared for sustenance, not convenience.
Let’s face it, as foodies, we have a bit of a tendency to be snobs. In this docuseries, author and Founder of Momofuku restaurant, David Chang, tucks into what he calls ‘Ugly Delicious’ food. He visits restaurants and countries, and redefines the food we love and know.
The beauty of food is that there are no boundaries to what’s considered delicious.
This food show also explores the political side of food in a conversational way, as the host invites celebrities from the entertainment industry to talk and explore all things ‘Ugly Delicious’ in modest settings.
Takeaway: the best spots are always hidden gems.
Chef’s Table is everything you want out of a cooking show – it’s educational, personal and touching. You get to find out what goes through the minds of some of the most famed chefs across the world. The up-close-and-personal nature of Chef’s Table oftentimes makes you believe you’re having a private conversation with the chefs at the very same table.
The chefs talk about their personal journeys in their respective careers, their relationship with food and what inspires them to cook.
The directing and videography is artistic and beautifully captures the humble intentions of each chef’s repertoire. Simply a must-see.
Takeaway: visually, an absolute feast. Plus, you get to know the best in the biz.
HIGH ON THE HOG: HOW AFRICAN AMERICAN CUISINE TRANSFORMED AMERICA
The title of this food show is the perfect synopsis. High on the Hog takes an in-depth look at the backbone of American food culture – African American cuisine. Food writer, Stephen Satterfield, traces the roots of some of the most popularised American dishes to African countries. He unearths the origins of fresh produce like yams, rice and okra brought from Benin to North America during the transatlantic slave trade.
Based on the award-winning book, High on the Hog by Dr Jessica B. Harris, this show is a Netflix must-watch!
Apart from the educational aspect, it’s more than just a food show. High on the hog examines the relationship between food and people in the African diaspora.
Takeaway: makes you think about the gentrification of food, the cultural impacts and the ingenuity of African people.
If you’re curious and suspicious about the source of fresh produce and ingredients we consume, this show is worth indulging. Rotten is a highly educational, true crime docuseries that exposes the rotten apples in the global food trade industry.
It investigates and magnifies the corruption, illegal trade and inhumanity involved in farming and food production.
Warning, this food show is likely to induce some mild ethical overwhelm! While it’s not meant to scare you, it is meant to educate you and being armed with information can help you make better decisions. Thinking about what and how you consume and who is affected by it is sobering.
Takeaway: will make you question what you eat and where it came from.
In this riveting food show, famed local Michelin-starred chef, Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen, invites you into his culinary world. He secrets viewers behind the scenes at his favourite spots, often set in the ridiculously picturesque countryside of the south of France, along the coast of Italy and beyond. With captivating videography, this series meshes a bit of travel with some of Jan’s favourite places and people that he draws inspiration from.
Jan’s authenticity is his gift; his very approachable and natural charm makes it feel as though you are right there, travelling along with him, just two buddies discovering a culinary landscape together.
Exquisitely shot and edited, this local Showmax production is well worth the watch. Season 3 brings things back to home soil and you learn more about his local projects.
Takeaway: besides Jan being completely dreamy to watch? It’s super inspirational and will encourage you to aspire big!
Check out our favourite food scenes in cinema.
Hungry for more? Subscribe to our Newsletter