For humans, eating is more than fulfilling a nutritional need that will give enough energy to live in the world. There is an emotional connection, going beyond mere instincts. Food has become an art and science, with people experimenting with their own recipes that will elevate the experience into greater heights. It is also a part of the culture, highlighting social values, beliefs, and meanings of specific demographics and countries.
That is why cooking shows and food-related series are entertaining. They explore the human psyche and condition through food — how it is prepared, tweaked, and created. There is something heartwarming with watching professional chefs and amateur home cooks work hard to prepare dishes that will make people happy and satisfied. But also, the kitchen is rife with drama and chaos, especially if the cooks must deal with Gordon Ramsay’s tough mentorship. His words are like laser cutting into metal, going through the toughest barriers to mold cooks into better chefs and people.
Thankfully, we don’t have to live through the same difficult training to learn about life and cooking. For the rest of us, Netflix is helping us live vicariously through the experiences of others. Here are four food-related shows you should watch:
Salt Fat Acid Heat
Based on her New York Times Bestseller book of the same name, Salt Fat Acid Heat is SaminNosrat’s love letter to beginner cooks. She believes that great cooking lies in the understanding and mastery of the four essential elements. Nosrat brings viewers to different countries and showcases how each component is being highlighted in local cuisine. For salt, she goes to Japan and speaks with soy sauce and miso makers, exploring how the ingredient became the foundation of its traditional cuisine. The show inspires viewers to do their experiments with the four elements in their own kitchen.
The popularity of Instagram paved the way for thousands of posts of beautifully arranged and colorful food. Korean American chef David Chang, though, has a different idea with Ugly Delicious, exploring the history of food that is often overlooked. The show came from his realization that he was ashamed at a lot of the food he grew up eating because kimchi, noodles, and other Korean dishes weren’t the norm in America. Every episode tries to tackle misconceptions about food, especially in terms of culture and aesthetics.
Considered as Netflix’s first original documentary, Chef’s Table puts the spotlight on the methods of renowned chefs like Magnus Nilsson, Jeong Kwan, and Christina Tosi. Viewers can take a glimpse of what happens inside the chefs’ kitchen, recipe books, and soul-searching efforts. The show has also been lauded for its beautiful cinematography, suspenseful soundtrack, and honest look on the culinary world. The International Documentary Association awarded Chef’s Table as the best episodic series in 2015.
Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories
Veering away from the usual nonfiction tone, Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories was a manga, TV Drama, and a movie before it found its way on Netflix. The show follows the story of the owner and customers of a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Tokyo. Each episode presents a classic Japanese meal, but the food plays second fiddle to the problems experienced by the clients. Some notable issues include the slow acceptance of international marriages in Japan, pressure to remain pious to parents, and regrets of wasted lives. Food remains deeply connected to human life and culture. Exploring its significance and impact through stories make for a thought-provoking experience