I doubt there’s a chef (person?) out there who hasn’t sampled at least some of the groundbreaking, provocative, highly watchable series that is Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. Renowned as much for its food coverage as for its eye-opening approach to exploring and celebrating the uniqueness of different cultures, Parts Unknown is food and travel tv at its absolute best. Vale Anthony Bourdain.
If you can only watch one episode: season 2, episode 1: “Jerusalem”
David Chang brings his sharp, honest, and, let’s face it, slightly abrasive approach to food to his 2018 hit Netflix show, Ugly Delicious. Featuring eight themed episodes, Chang, along with a host of esteemed companions from the food and culture world, travels far and wide in search of food at its most delicious.
If you can only watch one episode: season 1, episode 2: “Tacos”
In many ways representing the opposite end of the spectrum to Parts Unknown, Chef’s Table’s refined, stylised approach to cooking and restaurants spares no expense in creating a glamorous, aspirational story around food that turned the genre on its head. Featuring Michelin-starred restaurants from across the globe, this is one to watch if you love escaping into the intricacies of different kitchens and the chefs who run them.
If you only watch one episode: season 5, episode 1: “Cristina Martinez”
If you’re looking for a more provocative watch, Rotten, the documentary about corruption in the food world, should be on your watchlist. Featuring experts who detail the often appalling ways food makes its way onto the market, Rotten is a no-holds-barred behind the scenes look inside the world of food production that really packs a punch.
If you can only watch one episode: season 1, episode 4: “Big Bird”
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat
Samin Nosrat shot to cookbook notoriety with the publication of her excellent food bible, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat in 2017, and now her legion of fans has another way to get their fix, with her show of the same name. In it, Nosrat explores the four core food ingredients (er, salt, fat, acid, and heat, funnily enough) through the lens of a number of different cultures.
If you can only watch one episode: season 1, episode 1: “Fat”
The Mind of a Chef
Another show where Anthony Bourdain’s signature gritty sensibilities are apparent, Mind of a Chef is a show dedicated to exploring the creative, scientific, emotional and often humorous parts of the cooking process. The first season is hosted by Dave Chang (followed by equally impressive culinary figures in the five seasons that follow) and narrated by Bourdain, so if you’re expecting a sweet, glossy food show, this ain’t it.
If you can only watch one episode: season 1, episode 3: “Memory”
Master of None
Not a cooking show by any means, but anyone who’s had even a small taste of Aziz Ansari’s excellent fictional half hour, will know that it’s nothing if not completely food obsessed. From his insatiable eating and restaurant-hopping throughout NYC, to the beautiful Italian cooking and eating sequences featured in season two, food-lovers will be hard-pressed not to find something they enjoy in this one. Oh, and you can find lists for all of the restaurants and dishes featured in hundreds of blogs!
If you can only watch one episode: season 2, episode 2: “Le Nozze”