13 top series for foodies on Netflix Middle East: from 'Ugly Delicious' to 'Nadiya's Time to Eat'
Tuck into this veritable smorgasbord of great TV
Who doesn't love a food show? It doesn't matter how subpar your kitchen skills are, there's simply something about a cooking programme that's inspiring to all, whether you're watching a cut-throat competition or a chef whipping up a simple tart.
There are plenty of food-related series on Netflix, but here are some of the best the Middle East platform has to offer.
'Salt Fat Acid Heat'
American chef, TV host and food writer Samin Nosrat, whose parents are Iranian, bases this four-part series on what she considers to be the four elements of successful cooking: salt, fat, acid and heat. It’s part travelogue, part cooking show, as Nosrat journeys to different locations in order to demonstrate how each of these aspects are used in local cuisines.
She takes us to Italy for some fat, finds salt in Japan and heads to Mexico for a spot of acid. The last episode takes place in Berkeley, California, where Nosrat visits the first restaurant she ever worked at to discuss why heat is so important.
This Netflix original documentary series has been nominated for Emmys, because it’s simply that good. Throughout its six seasons, we meet culinary whizzes from around the world, who are redefining the concept of fine-dining and gourmet food.
We go back-of-house with some of the planet’s most renowned chefs, who, throughout each episode, open up on camera about their personal history, inspiration and generation-defining cooking styles. This includes the likes of Massimo Bottura, Grant Achatz and Asma Khan.
David Chang is an American restaurateur and founder of the Momofuku restaurant group, which includes the two-Michelin-starred Momofuku Ko in New York.
He also stars in, produced and created this fascinating and fun Netflix Original series, which explores the cultural, sociological and culinary history of various popular foods. He often does this with some rather famous guest appearances, including from Aziz Ansari, Padma Lakshmi and Sean Brock, to name a few.
Foods under the spotlight include pizza, tacos and barbecue. He also travels to countries such as Japan, India and Lebanon in a bid to learn more about these nations' cuisines.
The American Netflix Original series has had people across the world hooked, thanks to its addictive format. It’s basically a bake-off competition, where three amateur cooks attempt to replicate pretty complicated cakes and other desserts in order to win the jackpot: $10,000 (Dh36,725) and a “Nailed it” trophy.
It’s been so successful, there are now numerous offshoots of the show available on Netflix, too, including French, Spanish and Christmas-themed seasons.
'The Final Table'
If you’re a fan of MasterChef, then you’ll love The Final Table, an American cooking competition hosted by food writer and critic Andrew Knowlton.
The idea is that two chefs, who already know each other personally or professionally, team up to form 12 international teams. The challenge is for them to create restaurant-quality dishes based on classic recipes from a specific country, with a new cuisine in focus during each episode.
There are three rounds in each episode, with different judges. This includes food critics and celebrities from the nation in question, followed by one of the country’s most well-known chefs. There’s been one season so far, featuring 10 episodes, and you’ll soon be wanting more.
'Restaurants on the Edge'
This show is less about the food and more about the restaurants, as a restaurateur, designer and chef travel across the world remodelling businesses in order to make them more successful.
Think of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares if you will, except the experts are a little less aggressive and the restaurants are in far more exotic destinations. This includes Slovenia, Costa Rica and Malta – to name just a few.
'Million Pound Menu'
French maitre d’hotel Fred Sirieix presents this 12-part British show, which ran for two seasons. The premise is that participants have to try and convince a jury to invest in their restaurant ideas.
In the first season, two teams per episode get to host their own pop-up in Manchester, to prove their concept could work. Once they're done, the potential investors have to decide whether or not to put any money in – and how much.
For the second season, the format changed slightly, with three teams preparing a signature dish for four investors and then only one goes on to host a two-day pop-up restaurant. Either way, the show works and you’ll be rooting for your favourite ideas in no time.
'Somebody Feed Phil'
You might not know the name Philip Rosenthal, but most people will have heard of the long-running US sitcom he created, Everybody Loves Raymond. Well, he’s moved from behind-the-scenes to appear in front of the camera for this food-inspired travel documentary that explores cuisines in a new city during each episode.
There are three seasons, the latest of which appeared on Netflix Middle East within the last couple of weeks. Destinations he explores range from Bangkok to Buenos Aires and Marrakesh to Montreal.
'The Chef Show'
If you enjoyed the 2014 film Chef, starring Jon Favreau, chances are you’ll like this spin-off TV show, too. Favreau teams up with Korean-American chef Roy Choi to experiment with their favourite recipes, while roping in some high-profile celebrities to cook up a storm in the kitchen with them.
As part of the show they share a meal with the cast of The Avengers in Atlanta and smoke brisket in Texas. And stars who make an appearance include Gwyneth Paltrow, Seth Rogen and the Russo brothers.
Author, actress and model Padma Lakshmi is one of the hosts of this wildly popular cooking competition from America, by the same company that created Project Runway. In it, 12 aspiring chefs battle it out to win the coveted title of Top Chef.
They are judged by a panel of pro chefs and other notable names from the food industry, and one or more contestants are voted off in each episode.
It’s done so well that a number of spin-off series have come out of it, including Top Chef Masters and Top Chef Junior, as well as numerous international adaptions, including an Arabic-language version. Two seasons of the American show are available on Netflix Middle East.
'Nadiya’s Time to Eat'
British chef and The Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain presents this TV show. It’s pretty simple and straightforward, as Hussain shares a selection of stress-free recipes with nifty hacks that aim to help us all save time in the kitchen.
Of course, there’s a lot of baking involved, but she also takes us through plenty of savoury dishes, too, including salmon poke bowls, peanut chicken traybake and baked bean falafel, for example.
In each episode she also meets up with people in the UK food industry, to see where our ingredients originate, from the team at the Heinz factory in Wigan to the people over at Yeo Valley Farm in Somerset.
'The Big Family Cooking Showdown'
If this show were a food, it would be apple pie, because it’s nostalgic, comforting and basically like a warm hug. It features 16 British families compete against one another in a cooking competition in each season (there are two).
The first instalment is presented by chef Nadiya Hussain and presenter Zoe Ball, while in the second, presenter Angellica Bell and chef Tommy Banks take the helm.
They have to complete challenges, such as cooking a meal for under £10 (Dh45), making a meal for their neighbours and impressing high-profile judges such as Giorgio Locatelli and Rosemary Shrager. Cue some rather hilarious domestics, as well as heartfelt and tender moments among family members.
This is a show, based on food writer Michael Pollan’s book of the same name, for people who are interested in the fundamentals of cookery.
We’re not talking flavours and seasonings here, but unpicking the very foundations on which our need to cook is based – and how it all connects us as human beings.
Each episode examines a different natural element – fire, water, air and earth – and explores its relationship to ancient and modern cooking methods.
Updated: June 24, 2020 04:01 PM