- Food & Booze
Delicious Netflix Originals to inspire your next meal
We’ve put together the list of essential originals on Netflix for those who need some tasty shows to accompany their tasty snacks.
In recent years, we’ve seen Netflix grow from a convenient aggregator of our favourite movies and TV shows into a fully realised production studio bursting with original content, including these amazing foodie documentaries and cooking shows.
And we thought we loved food. Netflix’s flagship of foodie entertainment, (and the show that started their love affair with docuseries), Chef’s Table takes the idea of food porn to a whole new level. Each episode follows a different renowned chef as they reveal the history of their love of cooking and food culture, played against a slow-paced but nonstop barrage of incredibly serene images and sounds. Everything about Chef’s Table is romantic (honestly, too romantic for a doco) but it’s hard to complain about a show that makes looking at food almost as satisfying as eating it.
Ever wanted to experience the best pizza in the world? (The correct answer is “yes,” by the way.) You’d have to buy a ticket to Naples or New York, right? According to James Beard Award-winning chef, David Chang, the world’s best pizza is in Tokyo. I know, right? Chang has made it his mission to challenge the notion that authenticity equals superiority with the travel-documentary style show, Ugly Delicious. Every episode takes on the origins of a different food and explores how it’s been interpreted at different times and in different cultures. It’s a very refreshing approach to food culture, even if the show itself has no clear structure. Also, we get to see some amazingly creative food, and isn’t that what’s really important?
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat
If David Chang wants to show how food can be different around the world, fellow James Beard Award-winner Samin Nosrat is more interested in what great tasting food has in common, specifically, the elements salt, fat, acid and heat for this thusly named travel show/cooking show hybrid. We’ve seen plenty of cooking shows before but this isn’t just a simple step-by-step instructional with a budget. Nosrat is extremely likable and relatable on camera; she’s always excited, she makes mistakes, she laughs, she cries. Watching a world-class chef strip away the artifice and frame her profession through an understanding of these four elements reminds us that cooking is supposed to be fun. Samin Nosrat has a lot of fun on this show, and watching is a pretty great time too.
Enough with the travel shows, we all know that the key to great culinary entertainment is high energy competition, and Sugar Rush packs more chaos-causing sweetness than a bottle of red cordial. Building on a foundation laid by mainstream TV cooking competitions and adding a self-aware sense of humour inspired by its online counterparts, Sugar Rush sees four professional teams of two compete in a bake-off against each other and the daunting spectre of the clock across three rounds, with the last team standing winning $10,000. Sure, it doesn’t overcome the limitations of the format (and the host is more than a little bit obnoxious) but the twist of carrying over remaining time between rounds and the colourful, quick cutting, quick paced atmosphere gives Sugar Rush a unique energy. Plus, it boasts some of the most unbelievably beautiful baked goods on TV. We know why we’re watching.
Sure, Sugar Rush packs plenty of humour and fun but what if we took it to the extreme? What if, instead of professionals, the competitors were a group of total amateurs attempting (and failing) to recreate intricate deserts for your amusement? Netflix answered these questions with the release of Nailed It, a bake-off pitting three untrained, inexperienced but undeniably determined cooks against each other in a competition to see who can create the best (least bad?) duplicate of a guest-chef’s creation. This show really turns up the self-awareness and leans into the cooking show tropes to the point of parody. It’s a little bit mean-spirited and the $10,000 prize seems to be the entire budget, but it’s a welcome break from the types of cooking shows we’re used to. Just don’t expect the inspiring, mouth-watering results we’ve seen from other shows so far.
There’s a lot of passion on display here. The four-part documentary, Cooked, is a heady, existential deep-dive into the entire history and context of food within our culture. Sounds like a big job! Writer and host Michael Pollan goes into incredible detail as he explores basically any question you could ask about the evolution of eating, from ancient times to modern farming. It doesn’t shy away from the complexity of the subject and really takes its time looking for answers… like, really takes its time. This isn’t the passive viewing you might be looking for while making dinner but you’ll definitely learn a lot about what falls on your plate every day. We certainly did.
There you have it. Every year, Netflix adds more and more delicious, original content to its library and we can’t wait to see what they’re serving up next.