Here at Cool Material, we’re huge fans of the culinary arts, and it definitely shows in the material we cover. We’ve done stories on some of our favorite cookbooks, roundups of the world’s best kitchen tools… Hell, we even put out a whole story about cast-iron skillets.
We love food, we love preparing it, and we love learning about it, which is why we love great cooking and food shows. Problem is, there are a lot of bad ones out there. Here are 8 fantastic food shows we recommend.
Eat the World with Emeril Lagasse
Emeril is one of our favorite chefs to watch because he’s a dude you just listen to and smile. He’s an incredible restaurateur; a world-renowned, award-winning chef; and thanks to his new show on Amazon, Eat the World with Emeril Lagasse, he’s a world traveler. Follow Emeril and his friends (who are coincidentally also some of the best and most famous chefs on the planet), as they tour around—Sweden, Italy, Cuba, Korea, Spain, and China, to be precise—looking for the best food and best experiences the world has to offer. Amazon
This was an unexpected hit for Netflix because for a show about cooking, it attracts all different types of viewers—foodies or not. In fact, it’s the perfect show for someone who’s trying to learn and understand the beauty of culinary mastery because that’s exactly what it is… A narrative. The docuseries follows incredible chefs from all over the world to learn what goes on inside their heads and what influences the plates they create. It explores the art inside the kitchen, as well as the artists and their lives outside the restaurant, and that really is what makes it a show so worth watching. Netflix
The Mind of a Chef
Narrated by the one and only Anthony Bourdain (who we’ll get to later), The Mind of a Chef is another one of those exceptionally brilliant documentary series’ that peeks directly into the minds of some of the world’s most renowned and celebrated chefs—but not in the usual way. Each season is hosted by a different famous chef (with appearances by other famous chefs along the way), and they visit different cities and locations to learn about culture and cuisine. And yes, there’s cooking. This show is fascinating because it’s kind of like cooking inception—you have Bourdain talking about what’s going on in each scene, providing context to the whole, while the chef host also narrates, as well. But it’s great. Netflix Amazon
Cooked is a different kind of cooking show. In fact, Season 1, Episode 1, opens with a monologue from the series’ host, Michael Pollan (the author of the book upon which the series was inspired), talking about how it’s intriguing to him that we are witnessing an explosion in cooking shows, but we’re cooking less. You won’t learn how to make a great beef stroganoff in this show. You won’t learn how to make a roux for that gravy. This show is about linking the history and human genetics we were born with to the foods that we eat every day, and having important conversations about what culture has done to our diets. It takes place in four parts—Fire, Water, Air, and Earth—and in each, we learn more about the basics and history of each type of food and its relationship to those elements. It’s absolutely brilliant. Netflix
Anthony Bourdain, the man, the myth, and absolute legend, hosts this superbly well done and equally legendary (and Emmy Award-winning!) travel/cooking series. First, the series itself has 8 seasons, each packed with incredible stories and adventures. He visits places like Peru, Colombia, parts of South Asia, Libya, India, and even places like New York and New Jersey, all for the sake of exploring the things that make mankind mankind—food, culture, politics, and history—in a way that only Anthony Bourdain knows how. The best part about this series is that it teaches viewers that food is one of the primary things that bridges gaps and serves as a universal commonality among people. Once you start, you won’t stop. We promise. Amazon Netflix
Spain on the Road Again
To this day, Mario Batali is one of our absolute favorite chefs and media personalities. He’s talented and fun, and he’s super knowledgeable about damn near anything food-related. He’s not quite as edgy as Bourdain, so if you’re looking for something a little less “rock and roll” than Parts Unknown, Spain on the Road Again is absolutely wonderful. Also starring Gwyneth Paltrow (no, seriously), Mark Bittman, and Claudia Bassols, Spain on the Road Again is honestly more of a road trip between friends (and foodies) than it is a documentary series. Nevertheless, it’s a lot of fun! Link
Eddie Huang is a dude we’ve been following on VICE for years, and when they finally launched VICELAND this past year, we weren’t surprised he got his own show. Huang’s World is kind of ironically titled. You’d think it’d be a show all about Eddie Huang and his escapades throughout the world, and on the surface, it is. But what you don’t see until you actually watch the program is that Huang just kind of serves as a narrator and an engine for all of the experiences he shares with viewers in the places he visits. He travels to locations like France, Jamaica, China, and Orlando, and while there, he uses regional foods to bond with people and guests over things like politics, history, and culture in a way that is thoughtful and pensive, but also beautiful. Link
Dead Set on Life
Another VICELAND series, Dead Set on Life stars boisterous and lively chef, restaurateur, and loyal Canadian Matty Matheson. Matheson is a former punk rock hoodlum who, after nearly dying of a heart attack at the ripe old age of 29, decided to get his shit together and straighten up. The show is essentially a growing catalogue of Matheson’s experiences as he goes literally everywhere and tries literally everything. He larps with Canadians, kicks it with Inuits, tailgates with Bills fans, falls off dirt bikes, etc. What the hell does this have to do with food? Everything, actually. Food plays as important a role in the series as culture does, so everywhere he goes, Matheson is eating—whether it’s eating a Banh Mi in Hanoi, or catching the world’s best lobsters off the coast of Nova Soctia. It’s a hell of a watch. Link