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Do you crave fine dining and love to immerse yourself in the beautiful aesthetics practiced by world-famous chefs? Or are you a home cook who also really enjoys baking? Whether you fall into one of these categories or view cooking shows as a window into the wider world, Netflix has some choice delights for your discriminating palate.
The variety of cooking shows available for viewers on any number of networks and streaming sources has become so large that it is sometimes difficult to find a cooking show that suits your preferences. Whether you prefer the hominess of bake-offs, the elegance of fine dining or the informative shows that stimulate further interest in geography, other cultures and travel, there is something for you. The following shows are tailored to viewers with different interests, perspectives and feelings about cooking and how it embodies life, community, and family.
Some Top Cooking Shows
There are many great cooking shows you can look forward to watching on Netflix. Some of the most popular ones include:
The Great British Baking Show
The most well-liked cooking show on right now is The Great British Bake Off, aired in America as The Great British Baking Show. The Great British Baking Show is the polite and proper alternative to the cutthroat atmosphere that pervades so many other competitive cooking shows. The contestants are friendly and even feel sad about the loss of their fellow contestants when they get eliminated. The light tone and positive atmosphere create a cooking show that is both soothing and tempting to your tastes.
The show also highlights a variety of multicultural contestants adapting their own knowledge of British cuisine and creating original dishes by integrating their backgrounds into them. This makes for many delicious sounding items you can attempt to cook at home. They have credited the show with creating a renewed interest in home baking and adding a better understanding of the diverse people and cuisines that inhabit Great Britain. With dialogue like, “I’m not eating like Henry VIII, you know, quail’s eggs and lark’s tongues”, there is no mistaking this show’s British identity. The competitors are charming and good-natured and are allowed to cook at a relatively relaxed pace.
Each episode has a series of three challenges. In the first, the amateur bakers on the show make a familiar recipe they have made for friends and family.
In the second challenge, the baked goods are ranked from worst to best. The bakers are all given very limited instructions and the same recipe right before the challenge.
This last challenge allows the amateur bakers to highlight their skills. The judges are looking for a baked item that is both technically and presentationally exquisite.
The three challenges take place over two days. They eliminate one contestant at the end of each episode. In the final episode of the series, three bakers are left and they choose a winner.
This show is what many expect from a cooking show, replete with softly lit and languid panning shots of beautifully plated dishes choreographed with complementary classical music. Each episode focuses on one famous chef and the exposure to different things that have informed their culinary decisions. In an episode from season 1, chef Massimo Boturra explains how he was inspired to make edible paper from seawater by a painter’s work that he saw in New York. These anecdotes illustrate how the artistic qualities of cooking tie into the other cultural areas of our lives. This is further emphasized by the consistent use of classical music to highlight some of the inviting plates as they are shown.
Is absolutely stunning. The artistic plating for high-end cuisine does not disappoint, and the stories behind the inspiration for some of the dishes are fascinating to hear. This show is fairly ripe for parody, so much so that it was parodied in an episode of Documentary Now!, the American mockumentary television series. There is also a Chef’s Table Pastry spinoff that maintains the tone of the original Chef’s Table.
The Big Family Cooking Showdown
This show is a series that was spun off from The Great British Baking Show. The first season was co-hosted by the winner of the sixth season in 2015 and very popular British chef and personality, Nadiya Hussain, along with British television personality Zoe Ball. Three family teams with three members each compete to make a full meal for judges including Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli and British cooking instructor Rosemary Shrager as well as the hosts of the show. There are multiple heats before each team advances to the semi-finals.
This show is even homier than The Great British Baking Show since the competitors are families and all of the episodes are filmed at a barn built in 1870 in Kent. There will be a second season of The Big Family Cooking Showdown with 14 episodes and new hosts. The BBC announced in 2018 that the new hosts will be Celebrity MasterChef winner Angellica Bell and Michelin star head chef Tommy Banks.
In this show based on his 2013 book, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, Michael Pollan focuses on the human side of cooking and how food gets to the plate. This cooking show is a four-part documentary series that focuses on getting more in touch with our evolutionary relationship to food and uses the four elements of fire, water, air, and earth to do so.
The first episode covers the cooking of meat and how it has helped shape the development of our modern diet as a pit master teaches Pollan about the uses of fire in cooking.
In the second episode, Pollan goes to India to discuss pot cooking. He also details the possible threats the corporatization of food practices proposes to family recipes and cooking knowledge that has been passed down through generations.
The third episode, air, touches on the relationship of human beings to gluten and Michael learns how to transform grain and water into bread.
The fourth episode covers foods that are made using fermentation. He meets ‘fermentors’ that include cheese-makers, brewers, and picklers of a variety of items. They explain to him how the earth plays a role in the formation of the fungi and bacteria that make their products delicious.
Pollan emphasizes the additives that processed foods often contain and suggests that the basics are a lot safer and less likely to lead to health ailments.
Processed foods contain large amounts of fat, sugar, and salt. They also disrupt our link to foods from the natural world. He contrasts the ideas of corporate cooking versus the knowledge passed on to individuals through their families. This show is incredibly informative while it also touches the heart. He is inquisitive about the connections, relationships and the transformative experiences that food preparation gives. The show is directed by Alex Gibney, a documentary filmmaker who has made other documentaries on Enron and the Church of Scientology.
Anthony Bourdain will live forever as nothing short of a legend. The paragon of cooking shows, Parts Unknown, addresses anthropological and sociological perspectives on cooking while integrating the idea of cooking as just one facet of life to be enjoyed along with others. Every trip he took on Parts Unknown was a magnificent sensory experience. Bourdain was an esteemed chef at the French restaurant Les Halles in New York City; he then decided that he was more interested in exploring and writing about the elements that influenced cooking, including those of geography and the history of conflict in whatever area he was in at the time.
He is tremendously respectful of localized tradition and cultural preferences while visiting a variety of countries, territories, cities and even areas far off of the beaten path. Bourdain visited cities we all know well, in addition to areas that we know nothing about at all. His absolute adaptability to any sort of circumstances and surroundings is what made him one of a kind. So many viewers love Bourdain due to his unassuming nature, dry sense of humor and easygoing ways. Eternally respectful to others, his show speaks strongly to the layperson about the significance of food in our lives.
These shows are wonderful contributions to the many lenses through which we can view food and enjoy cooking. Food is the glue that binds together individuals, families, communities, countries and even people throughout the globe. There is no question cooking connects us as human beings. All of the Netflix cooking shows seem to have an understanding of and appreciation for this.
They employ different ways in which they emphasize the important role that cooking and food plays in our lives. Despite differing approaches, each of these cooking shows have the common thread of reminding us that the most important thing about food is that we enjoy the company of others while making and eating it. The nourishment of your soul must go hand in hand with the nourishment of your body. These Netflix cooking shows make it easy to learn how to do both of these things.