7 Best Cooking Shows According to Professional Chefs

In the past, there were only a few food and cooking shows on television. Legendary chefs such as Julia Child, Martin Yan, and Jacques Pepin were the driving force behind these shows, laying the foundation for the multitude of culinary programs that have graced our screens in the past three decades.

Don’t feel ashamed to admit that many food enthusiasts and skilled culinarians discovered their passion for cooking through television. Nevertheless, with the sheer number of cooking shows available today, it can be quite challenging to decide which ones to watch. We had to turn to chefs to find those from popular TV shows that were close to reality.

Best Cooking Show According to Chefs

#1 Hell’s Kitchen

“The best cooking show ever is definitely Hell’s Kitchen. You’ll absolutely love that show. Besides witnessing the talented chef Gordan Ramsay grace your screen every week, you’ll enjoy watching chefs perform under high-pressure situations. If you can successfully run a station with Ramsay yelling at you, you can pretty much accomplish anything.” —Kristen Ashley, chef-owner of Cleo’s Southern Cuisine in Chicago

“For me, it’s Hell’s Kitchen with Gordon Ramsay on the Food Network. Why? I have to say that his show offers a look into the daily work of a genuine chef in the kitchen and how to handle a busy service under pressure.” —Dadrian Coke, chef de cuisine at Chubby’s Jamaican Kitchen in Toronto

#2 Chef’s Table

When you watch Chef’s Table on Netflix, you’ll get a unique glimpse into the lives and kitchens of world-renowned chefs. The show takes you behind the scenes, showcasing their stories and creative work. Each episode focuses on a different chef, including renowned names like Grant Achatz from Alinea and Christina Tosi from Milk Bar, as well as other talented chefs from around the globe. According to Denise Spooner, an instructor at Escoffier Pastry Arts, Chef’s Table is an exceptional series because it zooms in on one restaurant, baker, or chef per episode.

#3 Cake Boss

Cake Boss follows Buddy Valastro, a master baker from Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey. He belongs to an Italian-American family, where many of his family members, including his mother, four older sisters, and three brothers-in-law, work in the bakery. This show operates in a fairly narrow niche – cakes, with the only notable competitor being Food Network’s Ace of Cakes. And yet, you will like to watch Cake Boss, because it is a realistic chef show and practically the only one in its niche. In each episode, Buddy takes on exciting cake projects like a Leaning Tower of Pisa wedding cake, a large roulette table cake, or even a cake with a moving robot.

#4 Top Chef

After 19 seasons, Top Chef remains a wildly popular cooking competition on television. It has spawned eight spin-offs and propelled the careers of talented competitors like Kristen Kish and Sam Talbot. Each season showcases a different city as the backdrop, typically in the U.S. The challenges and cuisines in the show often draw inspiration from the filming location—think deep dish pizza in Chicago or a picnic for Capitol Hill interns in Washington, DC.

Episodes feature two challenges: the Quickfire Challenge and the Elimination Challenge. The Quickfire demands swift and efficient culinary skills, usually completed within an hour. The Elimination Challenge, on the other hand, is more intricate, often involving multiple courses. The judging panel tastes and critiques the meals, ultimately crowning one or more chefs as challenge winners and eliminating others from the show. The last chef standing at the end of the season earns the coveted title of Top Chef.

#5 Good Eats

Alton Brown’s Good Eats takes the lead as the most informative and entertaining cooking show. Emeril Live captivates the audience with engaging charm, exceptional recipes, and a mastery of culinary delight. And of course, we can’t forget Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, a show that needs no introduction. Luciana Giangrandi and Alex Meyer, chefs and co-owners of Boia De in Miami consider this show one of their three favorites.

#6 Yan Can Cook

During the 1990s, you would have loved Yan Can Cook, an American cooking show that provided fun and entertainment. Another incredible and inspiring show is Chef’s Table. It highlights the passion, hard work, and stories of iconic chefs and restaurants worldwide. My favorite parts are the stories of people who have dedicated years to making others happy through their food and staying true to their origins. Avinash Shashidhara, the head chef of Pali Hill in London, shares his enthusiasm for this show.

#7 Ugly Delicious

Join host David Chang, an award-winning chef, on an exhilarating global culinary journey. Explore diverse local cuisines, regardless of how they are presented. Ugly Delicious stands apart from other shows like Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown due to Chang’s distinctive hosting style. Adding to the show’s charm are comedic guest stars.

Final Thoughts

The listed shows can be considered not only a source of entertainment but also some kind of chest of ideas for inspiration. With some minor caveats, they can even be used as virtual mentors for aspiring chefs or just those who like to cook something new and tasty at home.

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