Other

Great Food + Travel Shows and Documentaries

To feed your wanderlust, hunger, and soul. Pun intended.

 

I haven’t seen all food + travel shows everywhere, but to celebrate World Food Travel Day, I thought I might as well share a roundup of my favorites so far (and why I think you’ll like them):

Keep in mind that not all the shows may be available in your country. A VPN should *usually* do the trick.

The Mind of a Chef

The Mind of a Chef combines travel, cooking, history, science, and humor into an unforgettable journey.

It’s crazy to think this show premiered ten years ago. The first show I ever watched while already having a conscious fondness for all things food and travel, it’s narrated by the late Anthony Bourdain (one more reason to watch), and each season focused on one or two specific chefs, giving you a full look into, well, their mind! Inspiration, personal stories, traveling, and a sprinkle of science for good measure. I like to think of this show as a precursor to Chef’s Table,  albeit a little less artsy and a little more informative. Best of all, it was produced by PBS, and I love public broadcasting and what it stands for. 

Seasons 1 through 5 are available on Amazon Prime via a PBS subscription here, and Season 6 is available on Facebook, of all places.

Chef’s Table (and Chef’s Table: France + Chef’s Table: BBQ)

In this Emmy-nominated series, meet culinary stars around the world who are redefining gourmet food with innovative dishes and tantalizing desserts.

Ah, Chef’s Table. Perhaps Netflix’s best known (and most awarded?) food show, the inspiring instrumentals and detailed 360° shots seen here pair as well as cheese and wine do.

Every episode covers a specific chef, featuring old favorites like Massimo Bottura and Alain Passard. as well as new finds – at least for me – like Musa Dağdeviren and Bo Songvisava. Their life stories, inspiration, projects, and how they run their kitchen are all featured along with their most iconic dishes in a captivating, easily binge-able show.

Chef’s Table is available on Netflix here,  France is available here, and BBQ is available here.

Jack Whitehall: Travels with my Father

Jovial comic Jack Whitehall and his stuffy father, Michael, take unusual and amusing trips to foreign lands in an attempt to strengthen their bond.

I only ever knew Jack Whitehall as “the cute guy who does standup”, and had only seen his name around a couple of times, so suffice to say I was quite surprised to see this show pop up on my Netflix home screen as “Recommended for You”. Bloody algorithms. 

What starts as a father-son bonding trip ended up being a truly funny and often heartwarming (yes, really) journey around some amazing locations, complete with food, out-of-the-ordinary activities, and hilariously bizarre hijinks. 

Best watched with family, you can find it on Netflix here.

Street Food

Embark on a global cultural journey into street food and discover the stories of the people who create the flavorful dishes.

Originally named Street Food, but later renamed Street Food: Asia after the release of Street Food: Latin America, this production from the creators of Chef’s Table is focused on the local stars behind a destination’s cuisine, versus the big-name chefs we’ve seen in other shows. Not only are the location and food shots amazing, but seeing the locals’ unique perspectives and hearing their stories (often hardships and tragedies) is truly inspiring.

Hopefully, there’s more on the way, because there is street food for days on every corner of this planet. How does Street Food: Down Under sound?

You can find Street Food: Asia on Netflix here, and Street Food: Latin America here.

Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted

Chef Gordon Ramsay journeys to some of the most incredible and remote locations on Earth in search of culinary inspiration, epic adventures, and cultural experiences he will never forget.

Not gonna lie, I don’t *love* Gordon Ramsay. I know it’s likely just a tv persona thing, and he’s probably lovely in person, but I just find him a little too rude and I didn’t previously like any of the shows he was on.

Well let me tell you, I loved this show. Seeing him so enthusiastic in his learning of new ingredients and techniques, and genuinely wanting to use them properly, as well as trying out new things that he seems truly unprepared for made me like him a little more. It’s a good bit of fun.

You can watch him on Disney+ here.

Restaurants on the Edge

A team of three experts — a restaurateur, a designer, and a chef — tap into a restaurant’s surroundings and community to remodel each business in a way that is uplifting, inspirational, and positive.

Interior design meets jaw-dropping views meets chef show, this is one of my most recent favorites. It has something for everyone and strikes me as a bit more honest than other makeover programs. It emphasizes the importance of showcasing local ingredients on your menus (which is always a great thing in my book), and as with most shows of this nature, seeing the before and after of both the restaurant and the menu is quite stunning. 

The stories that accompany each episode have made me cry more often than I care to admit, as well as the reveals. All in all, a feel-good show that happens to feature my two favorite things.

You can find both seasons on Netflix here

Salt Fat Acid Heat

Chef and food writer Samin Nosrat travels the world to explore four basic keys to wonderful cooking, serving up feasts, and helpful tips along the way.

If you’ve read the book, this one is a no-brainer. And if you haven’t read it, go do that and then come back.

This absolute gem is amazing for several reasons: Firstly, Samin Nosrat and her enthusiasm are precious and must be protected at all costs. To see a brown woman have her own food + travel show meant more to me than I can put into words, especially when the travelogue segment is largely filled with men hosting everything. Secondly, the concept of mastering those four elements as a way to improve your cooking is so simple, but nothing short of genius.

See Samin in all of her unabashed glory here.

Flavorful Origins

Embark on a delightful journey through the culinary traditions of China and uncover the stories of the people who create and cherish its dishes.

Each season of this Netflix original focuses on a specific cuisine, and each bite-sized (lol) video shines the spotlight on an ingredient that is of key importance to that specific cuisine.

Be ready to forget everything you thought you knew about Chinese food, with truly interesting glimpses into many aspects of their culture as well. 

Originally narrated in Mandarin, I highly suggest you watch it the way it was intended and turn on the subtitles for whatever your language preference is.

Watch it on Netflix here.

The Chef Show

Writer, director, and food enthusiast Jon Favreau and chef Roy Choi explore food in and out of the kitchen with accomplished chefs and celebrity friends.

A spin-off of the movie Chef, this show hosted by Jon Favreau (who I adore) and Roy Choi might be, in my opinion, the most chill, unpretentious, laid-back show on this list. So much so that it’s my go-to whenever I want to relax, and have seen it start to end more times than I can count. It’s not particularly structured, but that’s what makes it feel like a conversation you’d have with any friend – if your friends were famous Avengers.

For the recipes featured, there’s a cute animation that breaks down a dish into its ingredients, which is just one of the things I love about The Chef Show.

Stream on Netflix here.

Ugly Delicious

All the flavor. None of the BS. Star chef David Chang leads friends on a mouthwatering, cross-cultural hunt for the world’s most satisfying grub.

Each episode of Ugly Delicious focuses on a dish or idea, and how it’s done in different places around the world, which inevitably leads to interesting conversations surrounding cultural appropriation, heritage, immigration, elitism, and more subjects that, in other hands, might be a heavy topic. However, Chang and his guest stars – often comedians –  provide enough humor to keep these discussions light and offer no judgment, leaving you with food for thought long after the episode has ended. 

As the name might indicate, some of these dishes might not be the best plated, most Instagrammable ones, but that doesn’t mean they won’t leave you hungry for more.

Catch the deliciousness here.

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 

Chef David Chang takes his insatiable curiosity about food, culture, and identity on the road, in the convivial company of fun-loving celebrity guests.

If Ugly Delicious was one dish in many places, Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner is one place and its many dishes. This follow-up of sorts sees Chang travel to four cities with more of his famous friends (seriously, how does one become friends with Kate McKinnon and Aziz Ansari?), and although still very off-the-cuff, does feel slightly more structured than its predecessor. This in turn makes it different enough to warrant its praise, even though at times it can feel very shenanigan-y (Episode 1 sees him smoking a blunt with Seth Rogen, FFS).

Best not taken too seriously, it’s a show you’ll just have to see for yourself.

Keep up with the mischief here.

Taco Chronicles

Many of the most popular taco styles have long, rich, little-known histories. Explore some of them in this eye-opening, mouth-watering food adventure.

Someone very wise once said, “Mexican culture is knowing that barbacoa and carnitas tacos are eaten in the morning, carne asada and guisado tacos in the afternoon, and pastor tacos at night.” Expand on that, and this show is what you get. A deep dive into what is likely Mexico’s most iconic, well-known dish, the show intertwines culinary history with the stories of those who make them. 

A reminder that there’s always more to things than we imagine, and there’s no right way to do things. Also, gatekeeping is bad and no one ever wins. 

Watch here.

Somebody Feed Phil

“Everybody Loves Raymond” creator Phil Rosenthal travels the globe to take in the local cuisine and culture of Bangkok, Lisbon, Mexico City, and more.

A show I could watch forever, I couldn’t help but wonder how the guy behind Everybody Love Raymond landed his own food travelogue. But from Episode 1, Phil will get to you with his infectious enthusiasm, infinite optimism, humor, and down-to-earth-ness. And even from the comfort of my couch, it’s hard not to feel welcomed and included in his world.

Once in an interview, he mentioned how he was “exactly like Anthony Bourdain if he was afraid of everything”, which is spot on and very self-aware. It’s what makes him so relatable; he knows he’s afraid and uncomfortable at times, but he really, really wants you to push ahead and try new things, because if he could, so can you.

Watch on, you guessed it, Netflix, here.

Heavenly Bites Mexico

Welcome to a food extravaganza, a visual poem to Mexico’s foodie ingenuity and the quirky and delicious flavors that are worth the stomach aches. 

Snacks and comfort foods are a world of their own, transcending tablecloth-laden restaurants and street food carts, and Mexican antojitos are no exception. May or may not feature a recurring theme of various forms of chile being added to just about everything.

Hopefully, they’ll do other countries because I would love to learn more about the food people keep coming back to; there’s something deeply personal and cultural about it.

Find it here.

Down to Earth with Zac Efron

Actor Zac Efron journeys around the world with wellness expert Darin Olien in a travel show that explores healthy, sustainable ways to live.

Part wellness, part food show, part travelogue, Zac Efron might have been the last person on earth I would have imagined doing something like this, but his genuine curiosity and frankly, good looks, make it very watchable. 

Fair warning though, lots of the facts given out are pseudoscience at best, so take them with a grain of salt and maybe consider reading this article after bingeing all 8 episodes.

Watch on Netflix here.

stay here

Designer Genevieve Gorder and real estate expert Peter Lorimer show property owners how to turn their short-term rentals into moneymaking showstoppers.

At the end of the day, this is a makeover show, so consider yourself warned. Nonetheless, the properties are certainly unique and the surroundings gorgeous. And as someone who occasionally deals with short-term rentals, it’s fun to a) give an informed opinion and b) learn a few new things here and there.

See the transformations on Netflix here.

Carmen Sandiego

A master thief who uses her skills for good, Carmen Sandiego travels the world foiling V.I.L.E.’s evil plans — with help from her savvy sidekicks.

Ok, I know what you’re thinking, isn’t that a kid’s show? Strictly speaking, yes, yes it is. But hear me out.

Each episode takes place in a different city, and as part of her brief, Carmen receives interesting facts that resemble a geography lesson more than they do a spy intelligence report. The animation is fantastic, and the storyline is entertaining enough that if this weren’t a cartoon, no one would bat an eyelash.

Nostalgia is also a factor here, as I grew up playing Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? so make of that what you will.

Indulge your inner curious child here.

Alice in Paris

An energetic young woman’s adventures through the streets of Paris to find the best food and places in a city she knows like the back of her hand, but can still easily get lost in.

Yes, Alice in Paris. Not Emily. This show centers around Alice, who has “absolute taste”, an ability that allows her to identify all the ingredients in a dish, and her day-to-day life in the French capital. The restaurants and shops featured are all real places that you will most certainly want to visit, and include a lot of true hidden gems.

The show has so much personality, heart, and charm, and although still a caricature of Parisian culture, it’s approached with a lot more sensibility and accuracy.

The series was originally made up of tiny, bite-size videos in French that you could watch on YouTube (here), before being blended and (I think) rearranged into longer episodes with a more cohesive narrative – in English – which you can find on Hulu here

Emily in Paris

After landing her dream job in Paris, Chicago marketing exec Emily Cooper embraces her adventurous new life while juggling work, friends, and romance.

Despite its ridiculous, ignorant, and often rude stereotypes of French (and sometimes American) people, Emily in Paris is a colorful, messy trainwreck that I can’t keep my eyes off of.

Unsurprisingly, the locations (which in addition to the titular Paris also include Champagne – in reality, filmed in Indre-et-Loire – and St. Tropez) are stunning, and with a chef as one of the main character’s love interests, there’s a good dose of delicious food and drink, making it a necessary – albeit reluctant – addition to this list.

You can find it on Netflix here.

The World According to Jeff Goldblum

Jeff pulls the thread on deceptively familiar objects, unraveling a world of astonishing connections, fascinating science and history, amazing people, and a lot of surprising big ideas and insights.

To see everyday objects through Jeff’s eyes is captivating, what with his childlike curiosity and wonder and not taking a single thing for granted. You can almost see how his internal gears turn with every new bit of information he receives, and he’s not afraid to keep asking questions until he’s satisfied with the answers.

It’s also quite endearing to see how much attention and respect he pays to the people he interacts with, something I think we should all aspire to do.

Learn something new on Disney+ here.

Our Great National Parks

Narrated by former President Barack Obama, this stunning docuseries shines the spotlight on some of the planet’s most spectacular national parks.

Whoever thought of getting Obama to narrate this docuseries is a genius. His deep, soothing voice is perfect for narrating, especially during the more exciting moments where his voice is full of enthusiasm.

Similar to Our Planet, with the more dramatic moments resembling scenes out of Meerkat Manor, it is a generally chill but wonderful look into the conservation efforts of National Parks all around the world.

Watch here.

An Idiot Abroad

Ricky Gervais and longtime friend Stephen Merchant are sending their uncultured colleague, Karl Pilkington on various quests overseas. Not a man known for his taste or wisdom, Pilkington’s journeys are the stuff of legend and have to be seen to be believed. Join the adventure and discover what happens when they send An Idiot Abroad.

A bit unsurprisingly, this is probably the funniest show on here. Pilkington’s discomfort is palpable, and he often says things that most of us wouldn’t even dare to think about. Still, he pushes through the situations his friends keep putting him in.

It’s oddly inspiring at best, and something of a wake-up call for the likes of him at worst.

Watch on YouTube for free here or if you want to give your money over to Amazon for some reason, you can do so here.

Rick Steves’ Europe

Rick Steves, America’s leading authority on European travel, returns to transport viewers to the continent’s bustling cities, quaint villages and picturesque countryside.

Arguably the most comprehensive travel show on public television, Rick Steves’ Europe has been on tv since 2000. His gentle nature and push towards being a “temporary local” reminds me a little of an uncle or a grandpa who shares his insider secrets from years of travel. 

Although he does visit major cities, he also focuses on lesser-known towns and hidden gems, and I personally often refer to his work (he also has a multitude of podcasts and books) whenever I’m properly planning a trip in Europe (not something I’m especially known for).

You can watch all seasons on his website (with the exception of most of Season 1 and Season 2, which have been retired) for free (just scroll to the bottom and pick a season or special), or pay for them (again, why would you?) on Amazon Prime here.

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown (+ No Reservations + The Layover + A Cook’s Tour)

Join world-renowned chef, bestselling author and multiple Emmy-winning television personality Anthony Bourdain as he travels across the globe to uncover little-known destinations and diverse cultures.

There is nothing I can say about Anthony Bourdain and his shows that hasn’t been said a million times already, so I won’t attempt much. He truly was a pioneer in the industry, and I personally adored his brand of diplomacy, humor, and straightforwardness.

Each one of his shows can be found on different platforms, which have unfortunately become less easily accessible since his passing. A Cook’s Tour can be found on GoTraveler and YouTube. The Layover is available on for purchase on Amazon Prime, streaming on Discovery+, or Discovery+ through Prime. All seasons of No Reservations can be purchased on Prime, streamed on Discovery+, and seasons 5-8 are available on Plex for free. Parts Unknown was going to be available on CNN+ (an absolute dumpster fire), but for now are up for purchase or rent on Prime, and supposedly on Netflix UK, although I haven’t been able to confirm that.

Haven’t watched but on my list

Taste the Nation with Padma LakshmiIn Taste the Nation, award winning cookbook author, host and executive producer Padma Lakshmi, takes audiences on a journey across America, exploring the rich and diverse food culture of various immigrant groups, seeking out the people who have so heavily shaped what American food is today. From indigenous communities to recent immigrant arrivals, Padma breaks bread with Americans across the nation to uncover the roots and relationship between our food, our humanity and our history – ultimately revealing stories that challenge notions of identity, belonging, and what it means to be American.

Conan without Borders – Conan Without Borders takes late night host Conan O’Brien to different parts of the globe, proving O’Brien is television’s perfect traveling everyman, with an uncanny knack for diving into a local culture and infusing it with his trademark humor. 

James May: Our Man in JapanJames May embarks on a remarkable journey across Japan, from its icy north to its balmy south. He’ll see the sights, meet the locals, and eat the noodles in a bid to truly understand the Land of the Rising Sun. Season 2, Our Man in Italy coming 2023.

Gordon’s Great EscapeIn this three-part series, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay embarks on a gastronomic quest, traveling to India for the first time to experience the stunning diversity of its culinary traditions and immersing himself in all aspects of Indian culture – no matter how challenging, unfamiliar or extreme.

High on the HogFood, community, culture, resiliency. Based on Jessica B. Harris’ award-winning book, High On The Hog traces the moving story of a people’s survival and triumph via the food that has knit generations together and helped define the American kitchen. From Gumbo to fried chicken, our culinary journey stretches from Africa to enslavement, to the Harlem Renaissance, up to our present-day; we celebrate the courage, artistry, and resourcefulness of the African American people. This is not just an African American story; it’s an American story. A feast for all the senses.

Eater’s Guide to the WorldDiscover the most surprising culinary destinations in Eater’s Guide to the World. Join narrator Maya Rudolph on a quest to find the most unexpected places to score an epic meal, while drinking and dining with the locals along the way.

Fresh, Fried, and CrispyPassionate about food and ready for fun, critic Daym Drops drops in on America’s smokin’ hot spots for the best, freshest takes on fried food.

CookedExplored through the lenses of the four natural elements – fire, water, air and earth – COOKED is an enlightening and compelling look at the evolution of what food means to us through the history of food preparation and its universal ability to connect us. Highlighting our primal human need to cook, the series urges a return to the kitchen to reclaim our lost traditions and to forge a deeper, more meaningful connection to the ingredients and cooking techniques that we use to nourish ourselves.

Midnight AsiaNight brings out the most playful side of Asia’s metropolises. This docuseries captures the food, drink, music — and night owls who shine in the dark.

Amazing InteriorsMeet eccentric homeowners whose seemingly ordinary spaces are full of surprises, from a backyard roller coaster to an indoor aquarium.

HOMEDiscover the groundbreaking ideas and inspiring stories behind the world’s most imaginative dwellings. In this globe-spanning docuseries, meet the visionaries who are challenging conventional concepts of “home” and rethinking how we live.

Midnight Diner A scarred man operates a midnight diner in the backstreets of Shinjuku. No one knows his name or his story, but his customers each bring him theirs.

Midnight Diner: Tokyo StoriesPatrons of an otherwise mundane Japanese diner find simple yet profound connections with one another based on the shared love of a particular dish.

TwouristThis entertaining original production comes to the TNT screen from the hand of content creator, author and actress Victoria Volkova, who will live interesting and exciting experiences in the unpredictable Mexico City. One destination, two trips. Thanks for the suggestion, Luza!

The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes Award-winning architect Piers Taylor and actress/property enthusiast Caroline Quentin travel the world to tour unconventional homes in extreme places.

Food on the GoEpicureans and experts trace the migration of Italian cuisine and its evolution in the Americas, delving into the ideas of origin, diaspora and heritage.

Paul Hollywood’s Big Continental Road TripGear up for a fast-paced journey as celebrity chef and avid auto enthusiast Paul Hollywood takes in the cars and culture of France, Italy and Germany.

F*ck, That’s Delicious Rapper Action Bronson returns to his culinary roots to explore great food in the cities he has performed in while touring.

The Food That Built AmericaFor generations of Americans, food titans like Henry Heinz, Milton Hershey, John and Will Kellogg, C.W. Post and the McDonald brothers have literally been household names, but you don’t know their stories.

Worth ItFood lovers Steven Lim and Andrew, along with their cameraman Adam, embark on the ultimate food adventure in BuzzFeed’s hit series, Worth It, trying delicious foods at three price points: affordable, middle tier, and luxury. At the end of the episode, the gang decides which item is the most “worth it” at its given price.

Big Food Bucket ListIn Big Food Bucket List, host and comedian John Catucci (You Gotta Eat Here!) eats his way across North America, checking the most mouth-watering dishes of his bucket list. From hamburgers to high end plates, he’s setting out to try them all – and you’re invited!

Bizarre Foods With Andrew ZimmernAndrew Zimmern is on a quest to find the world’s most unique tastes on Bizarre Foods. As a chef and foodie, Andrew knows that one man’s poison is another man’s delicacy, but he isn’t afraid to poke a little fun at the local fare or himself.

SourcedFrom foraging in the wild to putting on dinner parties in exotic locales, experience life through Tastemade’s resident renaissance man, Guy Turland. Also on Hulu.

The Final TableTeams of elite chefs vie to impress the world’s toughest palates as they whip up iconic dishes from nine nations in this star-packed competition. Thanks to Jorge for the suggestion.

Other great recommendations 

  • Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street
  • Mexico: One Plate at a Time with Rick Bayless
  • Rick Stein’s Entire Collection
  • No Passport Required
  • Chef Driven
  • Great Ingredients
  • Chuck’s World
  • Eat the World with Emeril Lagasse 
  • Fluffy’s Food Adventures
  • Tales by Light
  • Night on Earth

 

  • Magical Andes
  • Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby
  • Travel Man
  • Metropolis
  • DEPARTURES
  • Lost Cities With Albert Lin
  • Christiane Amanpour: Sex & Love Around The World
  • Places to Love
  • Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent
  • Waffles + Mochi
  • Ainsley Eats the Streets

If you want to take a look at everything that’s available on Netflix, these genres do a good job of rounding up most of these recommendations:

Another gem that I discovered while writing this is GoTraveler, a streaming platform with tons of full (and free!) episodes, all related to food and travel. They also have an app and a YouTube channel that are worth keeping in your favorites.

 

What’s your favorite food + travel show? Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments!

 

Based mainly in Colorado. Loves cheese, rain, and starry nights. Can usually be spotted in the wild wearing a Spirit Jersey and balancing two cameras. Often laughs and cries at the same time. Barely survived a Master's program in Food Tourism.

2 Comments

  • Jorge

    Great selection, most I’ve watched and the rest already added to my list. Maybe, as an addition, I would suggest “The final table”, some episodes are worth watching.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

%d bloggers like this: