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The 10 Best Food Documentaries to Watch on Netflix

James Hirtz Updated 21-04-2020

Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once said, “There is no sincerer love than the love of food.” For any keen foodie, it’s easy to get on board with that sentiment. To help nurture that culinary appreciation, there are a range of Netflix food documentaries for foodies.

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These are shows that tell the stories of the best chefs and restaurants in the world. They showcase the craftsmanship that goes into each meal cooked. And they illuminate the sheer passion that people can have for food (and drink) in all its forms.

Here are the best food documentaries that all foodies should watch on Netflix.

1. Chef’s Table

When director David Gelb takes on a project, you know it’s going to be a story well-told. And that’s exactly what we get with Chef’s Table (and Chef’s Table: France). Each episode follows the life and work of a single, immensely talented and ambitious, chef.

These range from three-Michelin-star Massimo Bottura reengineering Italian classics, to Francis Mallmann celebrating cooking with open fires on isolated islands. This is a stunning look into the lives of people who live for the food they cook.

2. Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Another David Gelb documentary, the critically acclaimed Jiro Dreams of Sushi arguably sets the benchmark for all other food documentaries made in the future.

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This show tells the story of 91-year-old Jiro Ono, chef and owner of a 10-seater, three-Michelin-star Sushi restaurant in Tokyo. This is a chef whose perfectionism borders on insanity, and whose life’s work consists solely of creating the best sushi on the planet.

3. Flavorful Origins

Flavorful Origins provides an intriguing look into the ingredients and cooking techniques of China’s Chaoshan and Yunnan cuisine. With 30 episodes across two seasons, you’ll experience a wide variety of dishes, ingredients, and culture together.

As an added bonus, the series is incredibly easy to binge. With each episode’s running time being below 15 minutes, it’s an easy series to watch across a weekend. If you’re looking for documentaries to take you somewhere else after you finish, check out the best travel documentaries on Netflix The 10 Best Travel Documentaries on Netflix Here are the best travel documentaries on Netflix, allowing you to see the world from the comfort of your own couch. Read More .

4. Ugly Delicious

On a lighter journey, chef David Chang investigates many popular cuisine types and differing personal interpretations of it. More than the art of cooking alone, this docuseries focuses on the culture and memories associated with eating. With Chang’s very down to earth demeanor, there’s both an educational and relaxed atmosphere to every discussion.

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Watching Ugly Delicious is a great way to hear unfiltered opinions on food which are instantly relatable.

5. Street Food Asia

Street Food Asia takes you across the whole of Asia’s street food scene. Each episode tackles a specific country and section of it to share an interesting take on how street food has developed.

While there are plenty of beautiful shots of the food, this Netflix documentary also goes beyond the food. It masterfully intermingles the stories and pasts of those preparing the dishes.

6. Salt Fat Acid Heat

In Samin Nosrat’s Salt Fat Acid Heat, the documentary’s title tells you all you need to know about the four elements of good food. Across four episodes, each of the elements receives individual focus. As with Ugly Delicious, there’s a more down-to-earth style to this documentary that even the most amateur cook will be able to appreciate.

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It’s a great weekend watch if you don’t have the time to commit to a full series. If you’re not ready to tackle Nosrat’s book of the same title, try one of the best online cooking guides for beginners The 7 Best Online Cooking Guides for the Beginner Cook You can learn how to be a great cook. These cooking guides for the beginner cook are few of the best places to start. Read More .

7. Theater of Life

When you think about food documentaries, you don’t anticipate hearing the tale of a soup kitchen. However, in this masterful-yet-uplifting documentary, Massimo Bottura creates a soup kitchen (Refettorio Ambrosiano) in which he makes gourmet dishes from food waste of Expo Milano 2015.

While there’s a distinct ethical element, there are also plenty of tasty food shots to enjoy throughout.

8. Cooked

Another beautifully directed documentary, Cooked examines cooking from four different perspectives: fire, water, air, and earth. The show looks at food not just as a meal to be savored, but as an anthropologic force that can help us better understand society.

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OK, Cooked can be a little preachy at times, but there are also some fantastic nuggets of information about the history and chemistry of food that will keep you hooked throughout.

9. A Tale of Two Kitchens

A Tale of Two Kitchens offers a quick 30-minute exploration of two different restaurants with two different menus. However, this short documentary doesn’t focus on that alone. As much as it is about food, it’s also a tale of how food can bring people together.

You’ll still get delicious shots of food and intriguing looks into the kitchen. However, you’ll also leave with a positive vibe about how the service industry can function as a family.

10. Barbecue

Barbecue offers a vibrant investigation into cooking meat with fire. In its exploration across 12 countries, you’ll see many immersive images of the roasting process. Plus, you’ll also hear people’s unique beliefs about the entire process of barbecuing across the world.

The Best Documentaries for Foodies Everywhere

These documentaries represent a real shift away from the mainstream cooking shows. While those offerings set out to entertain, these documentaries offer a behind-the-scenes look at the people so passionate about their food and drink that it takes over their lives.

Still, food documentaries represent one of Netflix’s smaller genres. So if you want to continue learning about cooking in novel ways, check out these unique YouTube cooking channels worth watching 5 Unique YouTube Cooking Channels Worth Watching YouTube is awash with cooking channels, but we've handpicked some unique cooking YouTube channels to spice up your life. Read More .

Related topics: Cooking, Documentaries, Food, Media Streaming, Movie Recommendations, Netflix, TV Recommendations.

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