Snacking on street food, meeting local chefs, and exploring hole-in-the-wall food stalls—those were probably part of your usual travel itineraries in the pre-pandemic days. The world today, however, seems at a strange standstill. With travel restrictions and additional swab requirements, it has become extremely hard to explore the world and cross off food stalls and restaurants on your bucket list.
For now, you can indulge in your favorite restaurant for lunch. Or you can recreate your favorite Asian, South American, or European dishes at home. Another way is to go on Netflix. Satisfy your cravings to try new food and places by watching these food and travel shows in the comfort of your home.
1. Chef’s Table
With cinematic shots and poignant storytelling, Chef’s Table reinvented food documentaries. The leads are some of the Michelin-star and most awarded chefs in the world. Every episode is a visual treat of chefs slicing ingredients, garnishing meals, and taking a morning stroll through local farms and markets. Sometimes, you’ll also see stunning sceneries in Europe, France, and other places chefs typically visit when they have the time to go out of their kitchen. Spend some time watching this show. It can make your wanderlust heart warm and happy.
2. Street Food
The Street Food is another series from the amazing creators of the famous Chef’s Table. You can expect superb storytelling and camera shots. But Street Food has one advantage over its predecessor—its willingness to go to the nitty-gritty details along the busy streets of Argentina, Japan, Colombia, Indonesia, and more countries in Latin America and Asia. Sometimes, the tastiest dishes aren’t in the most luxurious restaurants—they are prepped and cooked right on a street stall. Watching this show can take you back to that time you were backpacking around different countries.
3. Chef’s Table: BBQ
The latest series from the producers of Chef’s Table and Street Food will let you in to the smoky world of barbecue. You’ll learn the stories of some of the most famous pitmasters and other incredible people working behind the smokers. Plus, that communal experience of enjoying a brisket while drinking beers with locals could remind you of a lot of great times on the road. Sometimes, you don’t need to do tons of tourist activities to have a memorable travel experience—you only need to eat a good meal with locals.
4. Taco Chronicles
Is trying all the tacos Mexico can offer part of your bucket list? Get a taste of that experience by watching Taco Chronicles. Each episode highlights a certain taco type like carnitas or pastor. You can expect clever camerawork that will not only leave you craving for mouth-watering tacos but also take you to the day-to-day scenes on the streets of Mexico. You’d want to hop on to the next flight to Mexico after watching this show. But re-watching these six episodes may do for now.
5. The Final Table
The Final Table may be a competitive cooking show, but it features food and chefs around the world. The participants are 12 pairs of chefs fighting to get the most-coveted place at the Final Table. In each episode, these chefs have to make dishes inspired by one country’s national dishes. The show also features famous chefs in each country, such as Enrique Olvera of Mexico and Yoshihiro Narisawa of Japan. With this show, you’ll learn the rich food history of many countries. Plus, you’ll also feel the excitement (and sometimes frustration) of each pair vying for a spot in the next round of the competition.
6. Ugly Delicious
Ugly Delicious is the brainchild of David Chang, the famous chef and owner of the NYC restaurant Momofuku. In each episode, you’ll learn about a single food or cuisine. That’s because the show tackles the rich (and sometimes controversial) history behind that food. And it does that while taking strange but interesting detours into Chang’s life, pop culture, and migrant stories. Sometimes, Chang and other chefs and celebrities gather for a round-table discussion. That is injected between shots of food and scenery.
There’s another reason to like Ugly Delicious: it isn’t afraid to ask hard-hitting questions. The show has even successfully explored controversial social issues related to soul food or immigrant experiences. That, alone, can emulate the cultural learning you typically get when exploring a new town or country.
It’ll still take months or years before you can travel around the world freely again. But for now, all you can do is reminisce or get a taste of what more to experience by watching these amazing shows.