The hardest channel to part with when I decided to cut the cord on cable was hands down the Food Network, with honorable mentions for Bravo (Top Chef) and CNN (Parts Unknown). While watching previous episodes of Anthony Bourdain's Emmy-winning series on Netflix whet my appetite for exploring cultures and cuisines for a while, once I'd seen each episode two (or maybe three) times, I knew I needed to add some new titles to my watch list. And luckily Netflix is a foodie's dream.
From an inspiring documentary about a dedicated sushi chef to a fascinating film about the crazy crime that shook the wine world, these flicks streaming on Netflix are so good that you don't have to consider yourself a foodie to enjoy them. Filled with heart, humor, and humanity, these watch list–worthy documentaries are as much about food as they are about the people who make it and enjoy it. Ahead, discover 15 documentaries that will make you want to grab a fork (and a wine glass).
Acclaimed food writer Michael Pollan explores culinary traditions around the world and makes the case that "when we learned to cook was when we became truly human" in this four-part Netflix documentary series.
This riveting six-part series investigates what is now infamously known as "Big Food" – the corruption and fraud of the food production industry that causes dangerous consequences for consumers. Farmers, scientists, and chefs are interviewed as the series digs deep into subjects like the big Honeygate scam, the increase in food allergies, and chicken harvesting, among others.
If you're a fan of Anthony Bourdain's Part's Unknown, you're going to want to binge-watch Chef's Table, a Netflix documentary series that offers viewers a peek into the lives and restaurants of some of the world's most celebrated chefs.
The Game Changers
The Game Changers became the biggest selling documentary of all-time on iTunes in one week with big-name producers behind it, such as James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Fortunately, it lives up to the hype. James Wilks, an elite Special Forces trainer and The Ultimate Fighter winner, sets out on a journey to discover the truth about the link between meat, protein, and strength, debunking many longstanding myths along the way. Between Olympic athletes, special ops soldiers, and gorgeous footage of their awe-inspiring achievements, even die-hard carnivores may be inspired to go vegan.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
This film appears on just about every list of must-watch Netflix documentaries on the internet, and for good reason. Jiro Dreams of Sushi tells the story of a chef who's on an inspiring and humbling quest to perfect his craft despite his restaurant already having a three Michelin–star rating.
Meet Rudy Kurniawan, a man serving a 10-year prison sentence for "wine fraud," in this fascinating crime documentary about the case that shook the wine world.
Chronicling Chicago chef Curtis Duffy's journey to open his three Michelin–starred restaurant Grace, this documentary is as much about the restaurant industry as it is about the chef's life. Trust us—you need to add this poignant, powerful documentary to your watch list.
Chef's Table France
This spinoff of Netflix's popular Chef's Table series focuses on the rich culinary traditions of France, highlighting some of the country's most renowned chefs, such as Alain Passard, Adeline Grattard, and Alexandre Couillon. Francophiles, you won't want to miss this one.
Theater of Life
Theater of Life is a heartwarming tale about humanity featuring food as the thread that connects us all. The film follows famous Italian chef, Massimo Bottura, during the 2015 Expo in Milan as he opens up his soup kitchen to make gourmet meals for the needy using food waste. We also get a peek inside the lives and hearts of the chefs as well as the needy in this compelling story of kindness.
Forks Over Knives
Forks Over Knives is an informative watch that really drives home its point: eating animals and processed foods has negative consequences on our economy, healthcare system, and ultimately, ourselves. Filmmaker Lee Fulkerson follows two researchers in exploring the various advantages of this diet, while also documenting a group of patients suffering from chronic health issues as they participate in an experiment in which wholesome, plant-based food is essentially used as medicine.
The tradition of barbecue has been passed down for generations around the world with every culture enjoying their own version of it. This captivating documentary travels to 12 countries, exploring the meat-grilling ritual across continents through glorious cinematic footage. Journey along from South Africa and Sweden to Australia, Syria, and beyond.
By now it's no secret that America is facing a food crisis driven by greed for profit. This documentary provides a bit of hope as it follows Marty Travis, a seventh-generation farmer, as he transforms his profitless land and pioneers a sustainable food movement in Chicago. Get a peek into the future of agriculture that could save humanity through this fascinating film that taps industry pioneers to reveal secrets behind environmental protection and human health.
You probably haven't seen a culinary adventure quite like this. A chef and food-science researcher from the Nordic Food Lab set out across the globe to investigate cultures that serve meals containing insects and explore the possibility of these dishes becoming more popular as a means to feed the growing world population. This eye-opening feature will leave you thoroughly entertained.
42 Grams tells the unlikely tale of a passionate chef, Jake Bickelhaupt, and his wife Alexa. Together, they decide to turn their apartment into an illegal underground restaurant that becomes the foodie hot spot. One year later, the couple opens a real restaurant, called 42 Grams, that earns the chef not one, but two Michelin stars in its first year. Prepare to be totally engrossed in this fascinating portrait of the trials and triumphs of a celebrity chef.
Salt Fat Acid Heat
Based on chef and food writer Samin Nosrat's James Beard Award-winning book of the same name, Salt Fat Acid Heat sets itself apart from the standard food shows through its approachable, down-to-earth style. That's not to say you won't get your fix of droolworthy imagery and epic travel sagas as Nosrat visits the southern islands of Japan and home kitchens of Italy exploring exotic ingredients. Yet you'll walk away feeling like you could actually make any of the dishes in your own kitchen on a Tuesday night.