If you think deeply about it, the concept of cooking shows is honestly bizarre: you’re just watching people prepare foods. But whatever the reason, there’s something strangely entertaining about them. With so many options, from competition shows to travel series, whether you’re looking for recipe inspo or just like staring at food, we can recommend some shows you seriously need to binge watch right now.
Beat Bobby Flay
Each 30-minute episode begins with two chefs competing to face off everyone’s favorite Iron Chef, Bobby Flay, in a culinary showdown for the ages. The first round features a mystery ingredient chosen by the host himself, and the two chefs must make it the star of their dish in only 20 minutes. The winner of the first round is determined by two judges, usually one Food Network chef and one random celebrity, and then goes head to head with Bobby Flay himself. In the second round, that chef’s signature dish – a mystery to Bobby – is prepared by both, and then blindly tasted by a panel of food critics. They judge on both taste and presentation.
Although Bobby claims victory most of the time, this is the ideal cooking show to binge watch. Bobby has a huge personality and great sense of humor, so the dialogue is peppered with inside jokes and banter between the judges and chefs. Plus, since the show is centered around the element of surprise, each episode will have you on the edge of your seat!
This is perhaps the most classic as far as binge-able cooking shows go, so if you haven’t seen it, it’s time to come out from that rock you live under. In three rounds – the appetizer, entree, and dessert – four chefs go head to head for a grand prize of $10,000, preparing their dishes using a basket of unconventional mystery ingredients which are then judged by three celebrity chefs. While the competitors have access to a professional kitchen with a full pantry and equipment, their objective is to highlight the basket ingredients and to make them appetizing…no matter how crazy they are. Cod liver and jelly beans? No thanks.
What separates Chopped from other cooking shows is the creativity that each contender must showcase in order to win. The episodes are a full hour long, and the baskets are always shocking. Plus, the chefs all have backstories and it’s easy to get invested and upset when your favorite happens to lose a round. And the memes that have come out of it are fantastic.
The Best Thing I Ever Ate
Although it’s probably one of the lesser known cooking shows, I’m obsessed with The Best Thing I Ever Ate. This show gives you the inside scoop as to what all your favorite TV chefs eat when the cameras stop rolling, featuring their favorite restaurants in different cities and towns. It reeks of nostalgia and will make you want to do some major travelling. And every episode has a different theme, so you can watch based on what you’re craving!
I consider this a cooking show because it’s set in restaurants, but Kitchen Nightmares is about the establishments themselves, not the food they serve. Hosted by British chef Gordon Ramsey – who’s notoriously profane, often engaging in shouting matches with lazy line cooks or restaurateurs – the goal is to make struggling businesses once again profitable due to issues like poorly managed staff and lame working kitchen equipment.
Not every case ends with a successful turnaround, and Ramsey’s temper is absolutely iconic. This show is perfect for binge watching if you want to see people get screamed at in aggressive British slang. It’s truly remarkable.
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
As my actual hero, I would easily consider Anthony Bourdain to be a trailblazer in the world of cooking shows. His series No Reservations takes audiences into obscure and exotic towns all over the world, where the chef samples authentic cuisines and learns about local cultures. His completely noninvasive and spontaneous nature makes every episode feel like a casual hang out between old friends, and is so easy to binge watch for that reason.
Of all the cooking shows out there, No Reservations best combines cultural implications with food itself. Plus, the late chef and writer was one of the most adventurous eaters on the planet, so you get to watch him try some pretty weird stuff.
Chef Ina Garten is another hero of mine. My guinea pig is named after her, for god’s sake. Set in her Hamptons kitchen, you’ll want to live vicariously through the wealth and class this woman exudes – qualities that make Barefoot Contessa the perfect girl’s night binge watch.
Known for bougie ingredients and LOTS of butter, Ina’s pristine recipes for any occasion are worth watching her prepare on their own, but also amazing are the celebrity friends who drop into her kitchen periodically; from Taylor Swift to Michelle Obama, it feels like Ina knows everyone and that everyone knows Ina. Plus, her husband Jeffery’s guest appearances will make your heart flutter. Especially when he brings her flowers after a long week. O.M.G.
The Great British Bake Off
A huge departure from American cooking shows, The Great British Bake Off is what I would consider the definition of “friendly competition.” Set in a tent in the English countryside, a group of bakers gather to prepare various classic desserts over the course of several weeks, and one person is sent home after each episode. The format of this show differs from most because the bakers have an entire week between challenges, giving them time to prepare and perfect their recipes.
Everyone seems like friends on this show, and the judges are more than forgiving, offering emotional support to the contestants in the case of inevitable blunders. Plus, the dynamic between the bakers themselves is so sweet and you’ll feel like you’re watching a group of friends help navigate a culinary challenge. It’s so easy to get invested in this slower-paced series…and VERY easy to lose track of how many episodes you’ve watched!