Whether you’re a stressed student and you just need a break from the real world or a broke foodie who’s beyond exhausted of eating dining hall food and dollar ramen, you probably deserve to treat yourself to a binge of Netflix food shows. One of my favorite ways to destress from a hard week of papers and exams is a few hours of eating vicariously through a good cooking show. So in no particular order, here are the best (in my hours of binging experience) cooking shows on Netflix right now.
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
Big Family Cooking Showdown
Great British Baking Show
Every time I sit down to watch Great British Baking Show, I end up losing hours of my day to binge-watching on the couch with intense sugar cravings. What could be more relaxing than watching sweet British grandmas pour their heart into baking delicious family recipes? With its quaint English charm and sugar-coated food porn, GBBS is my ideal way to destress from a long day of work or school.
If I had to choose one word for this show, it would be quirky. The host, Nicole Byers, takes goofy TV banter to a whole new level, and the contestants are amateur bakers with huge personalities. This show is like watching a train crash in slow motion but with a lot of laughs and sugar and bright colors. If you’ve ever tried (and utterly failed, like me) to recreate that perfect cake you saw on Instagram, then you’ll feel a lot better about your baking skills and life in general after watching Nailed It! And if you just can’t get enough of it, make sure you watch all the various versions, including Nailed It! Holiday and Nailed It! France.
Based on the name, you can probably guess what kind of food this Netflix show focuses on: the tastiest, cheapest food from the streets of the most vibrant cities in the world. Season 1 centers around the street food of Asia, from steaming bowls of tom yum sold on dirty corners in Bangkok to plush kimchi dumplings in the Gwangjong street market of Seoul. If you want to watch classically trained chefs cook pristine meals, then this is not the show for you. Whenever I need to satisfy my cravings for bowls of sloppy noodles or piles of crispy, greasy samosas, Street Food is my go-to show for messy, drool-worthy food porn.
The Final Table
In a heated race against the clock, 24 of the most successful chefs from around the world compete to make the most original and delicious dishes from a given country. In each episode, three chefs or celebrities from that country choose their favorite traditional food, judge the flavor of the competitors’ dishes, and decide which chef did not make the cut. Even though all the contestants are professional chefs, The Final Table is still loaded with the unbelievable “oops!” moments that every good cooking competition has, like a Japanese Michelin-star chef who has to make a taco before he’s ever even tasted one or a highly-trained Scottish chef who cannot figure out how to make Indian food spicy enough. Complete with cheap banter and dramatic suspense music, The Final Table is the epitome of a traditional cooking competition but with a twist of global influence.
Each episode of Ugly Delicious explores the best and weirdest versions of our favorite comfort foods, from pizza to dumplings to tacos to traditional Thanksgiving dinner. It follows world-renowned chef David Chang around the world as he cooks with other celebrity chefs, considering the cross-cultural influences that makes handmade food so delicious. A personal favorite of mine, Ugly Delicious just makes me desperate for love-infused food in the best way possible.
Zumbo’s Just Desserts
Like the Great British Baking Show, Zumbo’s Just Desserts pits amateur bakers against each other in a competition to make the most beautiful, delicious cakes and pastries. Adriano Zumbo, who’s basically the Australian Cake Boss, is a total fanatic when it comes to desserts and he really puts the heat on his competitors, pushing them to spicy trash talk and messy breakdowns. I was initially fooled by the funky designs and jars of candy that decorate the Dessert Factory, but the competition is anything but light-hearted and fun. It kind of reminds me of watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as a kid; at first it seemed like my sweet-tooth fantasy come alive, then it started to get a little weird and I just wished the old white guy would stop smiling like that, but I could not stop watching until the very end.
Hopefully one of these shows connects with your soul, or if you’re like me, then you can’t wait to waste hours trying them all out. If you find yourself in the dangerous cycle of binge-watching and intense food cravings when you really should be working, just know that I’m right there with you.