Right now I'm in the Bay Area, spending some good quality time with my family. Whenever I visit, my dad has a stockpile of random cooking shows for me to watch that he's recorded over the last few months.
My dad's handpicked show list usually includes random PBS or local independent cooking shows that have some kind of reference to food and travel. If the title mentions food, it's getting recorded!
Our show list is usually so long that 2 minutes into the episode, we'll decide to delete or continue watching. As you can imagine we get through shows pretty quickly and have discovered some true food and travel gems along the way. I can confidently say I would have never found these shows if it wasn't for my dad and our food and travel roulette!
Maybe you've heard of the shows listed below but they certainly are not considered mainstream. Some of the shows on my list are new, others have been secret favorites for years but all of them I think you will enjoy.
🙋♂️ I'll Have What Phil's Having - PBS & Netflix
One of my all-time favorite food and travel shows! I'll Have What Phil's Having is a feel good, comedic take on a sheltered, American palate discovering foreign cuisine. Phil is the creator and producer of the tv show Everybody Loves Raymond and his unscripted humor is exactly like the sitcom.
This is not a snobby food and travel show. Phil travels around the world trying new cuisines, sometimes for the very first time, pushing himself outside his comfort zone with plenty of comedy along the way.
His Skype calls back home recapping the trip to his elderly parents is one of my highlights. The show started on PBS but has since been picked up and continued on Netflix.
Season 1 Series Preview: I'll Have What Phil's Having
🇬🇷 My Greek Table with Diane Kochilas - PBS
If you've ever daydreamed about living in the rural European countryside, shopping at the local markets, and creating simple recipes in your open air kitchen, this show is for you!
Diane is a New Yorker who's been living in Greece for about 25 years. My Greek Table features traditional Greek recipes prepared in Diane's kitchen as she talks about Greek traditions and cuisine. I actually want to make her recipes, which she creates with the American home cook in mind.
Diane also takes you along as she visits a local farmer or village baker. Sometimes she'll also show you how an ingredient is made, from the soil to your table, and every step in between.
Good Starter Episode: Olive Oil Everything
💋 Food Flirts - PBS
My most recent show obsession! We discovered this show just last week and I can't get enough. Food Flirts features the Brass Sisters who are elderly home cooks that prepare mostly Jewish cuisine.
The Brass Sisters travel around the US trying new foods, like ramen, for the first time! They take pride in 'flirting' their way into the back of every restaurant so they can see how each dish is made.
At the end of the show, they make their own version of the dishes they tried, always adding some kind of recipe twist. This new show is feel-good and very light-hearted!
Quick 30 second preview of Season 1
🧾 Check, Please! - Local PBS Stations
Most major cities have their own version (like Check, Please Seattle or Check, Please Bay Area) but every show is set up the same way.
Three strangers each recommend their favorite local restaurant to the group and everyone, on their own, tries each of the recommendations. After everyone has gone to each of the restaurants, they all come together on the show and recap what they ordered and if they liked the food.
Depending on the city, sometimes it gets a little heated between the diners! Our local Check, Please Arizona is pretty tame and everyone in the group usually likes everyone else's recommendation but on Check, Please Bay Area not everyone agrees that the food was good - drama!
No matter what city is being featured, watching this show helps me find great restaurant recommendations and discover some local hidden gems. Do a little research for your local Check, Please stations or use their website to find a local recommendations if you are traveling to a new city!
Recent Episode from Check, Please Bay Area
🌎 The Final Table - Netflix
This is an international cooking competition like no other! Some of the best fine dining chefs from around the world pair up into teams of two and cook complex, sophisticated dishes in 60 minutes.
Each episode is themed with one regional dish that every team has to make, like tacos or Spanish paella. Every dish the teams create is layered with unbelievable technique and looks like edible art. Because the competing chefs are from around the world, some of the dishes they have to create, they themselves have never had before!
The other exciting element to this show is the star guest judges who are some of the most famous chefs in the world.
The Final Table Trailer can be found here!
Do you have a must-see show recommendation? Leave a comment below, I'd love to add it to my show list!