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Netflix’s best food TV shows ahead of Michelle Obama’s Waffles + Mochi

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From First Lady to… grocery store owner? It was perhaps obvious that one of the first projects from the woman who initiated the Let’s Move! programme to reduce childhood obesity, would be one that promotes the wonders of fresh food to very small kids. Waffles + Mochi, Michelle Obama’s new Netflix show which starts on Sunday, stars Mrs O as the kindly owner of a store where Waffles (a kid whose father is a potato waffle and whose mother is a yeti) and Mochi (a squishy pink Japanese rice cake) end up after escaping the Land of Frozen Food. Their new employee status depends on them learning about fresh produce via the medium of enthusiastic chefs and random celebs (Tan France! The kid from Stranger Things!). It’s cherry tomato-sweet – but once you’ve got the little ones hooked on spice and mushrooms (stop it) there are plenty of other delectable foodie shows to move onto. Here are our favourites.

Ugly Delicious

Woah!

Korean-American chef David Chang, founder of the Momofuku restaurant chain, takes viewers on a tour of “deliciousness” around the US and beyond. The first season sees Chang sample everything from American barbecue styles to LA taco trucks and Nashville hot fried chicken – in one episode, he takes a deep dive into Chinese food and how it’s perceived in the West, tackling misconceptions around MSG and discovering secret dishes. Season two finds a vulnerable Chang, emotional about becoming a father, taking trips to Mumbai, Sydney and Istanbul, with an ode to steak thrown in. The series explores the link between cooking, community, people and politics – just don’t watch hungry. RF

Somebody Feed Phil

Food’s a serious business

Unbridled enthusiasm is the order of the day in this genial travelogue led by the writer Phil Rosenthal (creator of the long-running US sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond). Occasionally joined in his travels across the globe (Saigon, Mexico City, Bangkok, Tel Aviv, London, the Mississippi Delta, Chicago, you name it) by family and friends, he meets local food experts and fills his face with the good stuff. That’s it. Effortlessly amiable and a true lover of food rather than a ‘foodie’, he’s a joy to hang with. ND

The Chef Show

Don’t miss the grilled cheese recipe

/ Netflix

Fans of 2014’s Chef will already know about its spin-off cooking show, imaginatively titled The Chef Show. Presented by Jon Favreau and Roy Choi (one of the founders of the gourmet food truck movement and culinary advisor to Favreau during the filming of Chef), the duo embark on a journey around the US, visiting culinary big names and a fair few celebrities in the process. Highlights include jazzy graphics, an unforgettable grilled cheese recipe and an Avengers get-together featuring a veritable seafood feast. JB

Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown

Pleeease take us there

/ Netflix

Anthony Bourdain plunged a sharpened chef’s knife through the heart of traditional cookery shows with this series, trimming off the fat and getting immediately to what matters in food: where it comes from, the people behind it, and how the simple pleasures of eating can influence entire cultures. We watch him snack under neon ferris wheels in Myanmar and dance with a stomach full of burning chilli oil on the streets of Bahia, Brazil. Parts Unknown isn’t about kitchen tips, it’s about how food can make you feel.DE

Street Food

God that looks delicious

/ Netflix

Yes, every episode in the two series of this show, Street Food Asia and Street Food Latin America, will have you salivating, but you quickly find that the food, though clearly delectable, is secondary to the stories of the people who make it. From Jay Fai, a septuagenarian former seamstress in Bangkok, who risked everything on a kilo of prawns and got a Michelin star for her troubles, to Suzana Sapucaia, a stammering laundress in Salvador whose moqueca brings all the boys and girls to her yard, they will capture your heart and your stomach. ND

Chef’s Table

OK we’re getting hungry now

/ Netflix

Netflix’s beautifully filmed Chef’s Table – which was the streaming platform’s first original documentary series back in 2015 and is made by the team behind Waffles + Mochi – is a must-watch for anyone looking for a more philosophical take on the culinary world. Each episode focuses on a specific, ground-breaking chef from around the world, exploring their personal story as well as their approach to food. Created by David Gelb, the man behind the popular Jiro Dreams of Sushi documentary, it has now been running for six series and had various spin-offs. In 2019, London chef Asma Khan became the first British chef to be featured. JT

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

Cheeeeeeese

/ Netflix

It might seem a peculiar thing to say about a professional chef and food writer, but Samin Nosrat absolutely loves eating. The unbridled glee with which she gobbles up the culinary delights presented to her during the course of this four-part Netflix series is endlessly enjoyable, and that passion for good cooking flows through the show. Based on Nosrat’s book of the same name, each episode is dedicated to either salt, fat, acid or heat — the fundamental elements of great food, she convincingly explains — and how they are used in cuisines around the world. It’s a travelogue, hunting out masters of their craft, but there are plenty of home-cooking moments to inspire you into the kitchen, too. JE

Taco Chronicles

Enough now, seriously this is too much

/ Netflix

Considering the ‘correct’ way to eat a taco is in no fewer than two and no more than four bites (what tiny-mouthed ascetic can make a taco last four bites?) there’s an awful lot to be said about them, as this lovely series devoted to the many possible iterations of the Mexican joy-pocket shows. As is often the case with the best food series, it’s as much about the people behind the dish as the food itself, though there are still plenty of mouth-watering close-ups of huge machetes dicing glistening, still-sizzling meat to get your stomach grumbling. ND

Nailed It!

Oh. Be careful what you wish for, eh?

/ Netflix

What would happen if the contestants on the Great British Bake Off weren’t actually all that good at baking? Chaos, right? Indeed — and a particularly heart-warming type of chaos, as it turns out. The proof is in the precarious pudding with this show, which tasks three budding cake-makers (all of whom have suffered baking balls-ups in the past) with recreating exquisitely constructed confectionery. The results range from “unmitigated disaster” to “actually half-decent”, and it’s all done in exceptionally good spirits, making it a very pleasant watch. Also, the “winner” gets a $10,000 prize, which is more than enough to make you forget about any soggy bottoms. JE

Masterchef: The Professionals

Right, that’s it. What’s in the fridge

/ BBC/Shine TV

This long-running and ruthlessly difficult cooking competition, in which Marcus Wearing and Monica Galetti preside over the search for the next superstar chef, is addictive viewing for foodies. It offers an insight into fine dining trends (sweet bread and celeriac puree crop up at least once an episode) as well as the incredibly high stress threshold required to run a prestigious kitchen. Also, if you watch it enough, you can make a drinking game out of how many times Marcus says, “That’s a great plate of food.” Oui, chef! JT

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