Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
For those days when you fancy something a little more creative from the kitchen, these TV shows offer creativity, inspiration, and entertainment in abundance.
Once you’ve conquered your kitchen fears and can confidently cook basic meals, you’ll naturally feel the urge to rustle something up that’s a little more creative — something that holds more of that wow factor, both on the plate and in your mouth.
Sometimes these meals may require fancy kitchen appliances, but most won’t. The majority simply require a willingness to play around with flavors and hone the basic kitchen skills that you already possess.
To help push you in the right direction, these six TV shows will have you creatively inspired in no time — with celebrity chefs, talented culinary masters, and delectable cooks showing the best of their repertoire in each and every episode.
Currently in its sixth Season, MasterChef is an incredibly popular competitive cooking show that searches for the best home chef in America.
Presented by star chefs Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot, and Christina Tosi, the show requires contestants to cook classic meals to a very high standard, as well as being able to create their own dishes that impress the judges, all for the ultimate goal of winning the show’s grand prize: $250,000, the MasterChef trophy, and their very own published cookbook.
In all, the show does try to be harsh on the contestants, but mixed in with all the drama is some truly great food. Not to mention that this show is an international phenomenon with regional variants like MasterChef Australia and MasterChef India.
Watch on Amazonnow.
Each episode sees four chefs competing to turn a mystery basket of three to five unrelated ingredients into something deliciously extraordinary. The end meal must contain all of the ingredients, with the results usually being utterly mouth-watering, though occasionally disastrous.
Compared to other shows, this can be seen as much more real. How often do we turn to the fridge only to find a random selection of ingredients that we have no idea what to do with? This show is pretty much a replica of that situation, only we get to see what professional cooks would rustle up.
While this may shame some of us for our lack of creativity, it also offers a hearty dose of excitement when we see what can actually be made with even the most basic of ingredients if we just open up our minds a bit.
Stretching 12 seasons, Top Chef has been hitting the screen since 2006, pitting professional chefs against each other in a series of cooking challenges, with the final dishes being judged by a selection of food and wine experts.
This is a show where budding chefs can really flex their culinary muscles in a bid to become “Top Chef“. In each episode there’s a “Cook Off” where the weakest chef is sent home and the winner lands a dream job (a la America’s Next Top Model). In between all of this are arguments, in-fighting, and drama.
As with MasterChef, feel free to ignore the reality TV editing. Behind all of that silliness are some incredible plates of food that would be a worth trying to replicate in your own kitchen. Plus, you get to learn some fantastic kitchen secrets from very talented chefs.
Beginning with blind auditions that involve nothing but spoonfuls of food — to help the judges focus solely on taste — The Taste offers a refreshing alternative to many of the other cooking shows out there.
By paying less attention to fine-dining style presentation and more on what happens in your mouth after you’ve taken a bite, this is a show that can inspire the masses to get out there and play around with flavors instead of wasting too much time presenting otherwise mediocre food.
Although the competition aspect of The Taste isn’t particularly gripping (similar to The Voice) and the bitchiness between the judges (Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre, and Marcus Samuelsson) can eventually grate, the food itself is nothing short of tantalizing and delicious.
This beautifully filmed documentary series doesn’t quite class as a “cooking show” in the traditional sense, but showcases how some of the best chefs in the world approach their work.
Watching Massimo Bottura turn the most basic of ingredients into a work of art or Francis Mallman cooking on open-fires in Patagonia may not leave you with a selection of step-by-step recipes, but it’ll light a fire inside of you to push your cooking way outside of your comfort zone.
Watch on Netflix now.
Iron Chef America
Since 2005, Iron Chef America has been Americanizing this original Japanese TV series where chefs go head-to-head in a fast-paced battle to produce the best looking and best tasting dishes. Packed with humor and energy, the show will leave you entertained and more knowledgeable about food and cooking techniques. Perfect wind-down TV!
If you’ve watched all 12 seasons, the formulaic approach to the show may become a tad boring, but continue watching and you’ll be treated to plenty of new ways to think about food and tons of ideas for meals you never would have thought about otherwise.
There’s a Food Revolution Happening
Throughout the U.S. and Europe, there’s a revolution happening in the food industry. People are becoming more and more inventive and experimental, not just while eating out but also while preparing food in their own kitchens.
Rather than sticking to the same old dishes, people are looking for new ways of thinking about food, to offer new experiences and “taste sensations”. People now want to be able to cook like award-winning chefs without spending a fortune, all while treating guests to something entirely unique.
Between them, these TV shows offer a mass of ideas, techniques, flavor combinations, and inspiration to give us a fresh foundation for approaching our own cooking.
Where else do you find creative culinary inspiration? Share with us in the comments below!
Image Credits: cooking with magic via Shutterstock