The Orion

Netflix food documentaries worth the binging

Anisha Brady

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Gastronomy is not something that usually comes to mind when one thinks of art. Cuisine has always been an indication of culture, however, within recent years, the culinary scene has revolutionized and become an artistic form of self-expression. Netflix features some of the most intriguing cooking shows that explore cuisine from every corner of the planet and the condition of mankind.

Chef’s Table

This documentary-style Netflix series is easily the best of its kind. The show was created by David Gelb and visits the personal lives and passions of world-renowned chefs. Each episode takes the viewer to a different and often unvisited part of the globe. The places are exotic and picturesque, which is one of the reasons this show is so alluring. Gelb recently released the new season, which follows chefs from all the different regions of France. Throughout the episode, the audience discovers how these chefs have altered traditional food and made it into an artistic reflection of themselves. What makes “Chef’s Table” especially unique is the authentic and relatable portrayal of each famous chef. Their hardships, successes and flaws are brought to light, which contributes to the documentary’s emotional and humanistic theme.

Cooked

Cooked is a more anthropological-style documentary that focuses on the four natural elements: fire, earth, air and water, incorporated in cooking. This series was originally a book written by Michael Pollan who also wrote the popular Omnivore’s Dilemma. Pollan denounces the corporate fast food culture and emphasizes the importance in maintaining a less processed food and cooking system. In each episode, through the guidance of talented chefs, Pollan learns how to sustainably master traditional dishes utilizing the featured element. He follows cooking methods from unparalleled cultures from the Aborigines to ancient French fermentation processes to express the ecological values of investing in the relationships between natural resources and human culture.

The Layover

For those unfamiliar with Anthony Bourdain, he is a rebellious character gone famous chef that created a series about the best cuisine found in typical layover cities around the world. In each city, he is given one to two days to map out and dine at the restaurants he deems most authentic and delicious. Unlike Chef’s Table, which features solely Michelin-rated chefs, Bourdain promotes a lesser known food scene, accessible to people of all classes. Part of what makes “The Layover” and his other television series “Parts Unknown” so popular is his charisma and innate ability to befriend local people. While introducing the food, he often talks about the history and culture of each city, which gives audiences a glimpse into lifestyles they may have never experienced. Every episode feels like a fast-paced yet educational adventure about the exotic foods belonging to these layover cities.

These series go far beyond the standard Rachael Ray or Top Chef corniness. While all three are unique in their own ways, they all successfully manage to document the artistry and importance of authentic cooking all over the world, and advocate for the consumption and appreciation of good food.

Anisha Brady can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.

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Netflix food documentaries worth the binging