Some things are elemental to the human experience and eating is definitely at the top of it, but nowadays, there is much more to learn about food than whats on your plate. From learning about its origin, the concept and art behind it, what goes inside it and how it impacts your overall mental and physical wellbeing—they all matter.
If you ever felt a tad lost whenever your foodie friends start rambling on about food and the inner workings of it, then perhaps you might need some brushing up in your food knowledge. There are loads to choose from dry, factual-based documentaries to compelling, fun-filled food tours around the world, but when it comes to separating the cream from the crap on Netflix, we think we’ve watched enough to know whats what.
If you want to up your food knowledge game and gain a broader perspective on the food you eat, then here is our list of 9 worth-it-to-watch food documentaries on Netflix for you to binge on.
Contrary to its title, Barbecue is more than just a programme about a guy throwing things on the grill. In fact, it goes deeper into the actual practice itself and how it has transcended from a caveman-era means of survival to differing cultural practices and the ways they apply it.
Every culture has a form of barbecue and an intimate story to tell with regards to it. From South Africa to Sweden and all the way to an outback town in Australia, Barbecue takes us to 12 different countries, exploring and learning more about the different ways the concept of barbecuing food is practised around the world. Presented using glorious cinematic shots and a captivating musical score, the show is truly one epic worth indulging in.
Original Netflix show, Chef’s Table revolves around some of the world’s most iconic chefs and on fine dining in general. But besides actual cooking, the show focuses heavily on the movements that many of the featured chefs inspired as well as reveals certain mysteries of the restaurant industry.
Every episode focuses on one famous chef, and with 4 episodes per season and now on its 4th season, Chef’s table really is a show worth binging. Not only are the food shots beyond sexy, but you also get to learn quite a fair bit about the industry that you probably never knew before.
FORKS OVER KNIVES
The feature film Forks Over Knives examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes can be controlled, or even prevented, by rejecting animal-based and processed foods.
A tad dry at the start but the film does give some valuable insight into the difference between Eastern and Western diets and how it inevitably does more good than harm for the body to opt for plant-based foods. The film is centred around advocacy and not so much actual food, which for some might be a turn-off but take it from us, it’s good knowledge to have.
JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI
For those of you still living under a rock, this iconic documentary profiles legendary sushi chef Jiro Ono, an 85-year-old master whose 10-seat, $300-a-plate restaurant (Sukiyabashi Jiro) is legendary among Tokyo foodies. Despite its humble appearance, the restaurant was also the first of its kind to be awarded three Michelin stars and sushi lovers from all over the globe have made repeated pilgrimages to the establishment, paying top dollar and even booking months in advance for a seat at Jiro’s sushi bar.
An elegant meditation on work, family, and the art of perfection, Jiro Dreams Of Sushi stunningly chronicles Jiro’s life as both a success in the culinary world and as a loving yet complicated father.
SOMEBODY FEED PHIL
When the elements of culture, food, travel and humour intertwine, you know you’re bound to be hooked. ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ creator Phil Rosenthal travels the globe from Bangkok to Lisbon and even the dusty streets of Mexico City, exploring local cuisine and culture.
Along for the ride, Phil has with his family and friends as well as his trademark sense of humour. Overall, an enjoyable series worth fixating your eyes on for hours on end.
Steak Revolution takes us on a global pursuit of the world’s best steak with interviews with chefs, farmers, butchers and other experts from all over the world. But this informative foodie film is more than just footage of assorted chefs cooking delicious-looking cuts of meat—as much as we wouldn’t mind that either.
The tour encompasses breeders, butchers, grazing practices and genetics and strives to educate viewers more specifically about the meat we eat and the animals that it comes from. For the religious meat eaters, this one’s for you.
THE MIND OF A CHEF
Produced by the late Anthony Bourdain, The Mind Of A Chef in a way encapsulates some of the man’s most popular food tour programmes such as ‘Parts Unknown’ or ‘No Reservations’—only, he consults the help of some moderately-known chefs to play his role instead.
The first season kicks off with celebrity chef David Chang. Armed with the man’s sense of humour and ballsy attitude, he takes us on a culinary trip to examine his food-centric world from ramen to rotting bananas, and pork buns to other highly-esteemed oddities from as far as from Japan to New York. Season 1 combines travel, cooking, history and humour to form one heck of an unforgettable journey. Each episode is about 20-minutes, making it the ideal show to binge on.
The feature documentary takes a look behind the scenes at top-class restaurants all around the globe and offers exclusive interviews with celebrity chefs from France, Spain, Germany, Japan and more.
Around a dozen chefs discuss their varying philosophies, but more telling is the time spent observing the day-to-day functions of their businesses and how restaurants of such high stature actually keep their quality consistent. A documentary is driven on facts, we probably wouldn’t blame you for dozing off mid-film, but it does give us some fascinating insight into the restaurant world.
Chef David Chang of Momofuku takes viewers on a mouthwatering, cross-cultural hunt for the world’s most satisfying grub. Joining him along the way are writers, chefs and activists as well who use food as a tool to eradicate cultural and somewhat racial taboos—from having Korean barbecue on an American grill to using MSG in cooking.
One thing’s for sure though, the man’s no-holds-barred attitude is contagious and his humour is truly next level but for what it’s worth, the food still comes up top and with 8 drool-inducing episodes, you’d probably be better off not watching it on an empty stomach.
All photos are credited to Netflix.