Not all the best shows are on Netflix when it comes to food, Hulu has put forth some prime contenders.
We know Food Network is likely not the first place you go to when it's time to watch something. In fact, for many chefs, most cooking shows are the equivalent of horror movies. It cannot be semi-homemade, Sandra Lee, it's either is homemade or it isn't! Without further digression, here are a few shows worth their commercials on Hulu.
1. The Bear
Frank Ockenfels / FX
The Bear is a new show streaming on Hulu with a very real back-of-house staff at a crusty sandwich shop in Chicago. "Bear" is the name of the shop, but also the main character, Carmy, who moved back home from a career as a chef in some high-end restaurants, to try and make the sandwich shop into something of a real business.
We live foodservice, it's in our name: Food Service Direct – and this show reveals the real highs, and the very real lows of working in a kitchen, depending on the kitchen of course.
Why We Like It:
A few reasons. First, the acting: Carmen 'Carmy' Berzatto is played by Jeremy Allen White, who you may recognize from HBO's Shameless, where he played Lip Gallagher. Second, the honesty. It's a bit brutal, and yet it makes it feel more real. There are moments of levity and emotional reflection that feel very true to the experience of attempting a career in culinary.
2. Taste the Nation
This show actually teaches viewers so much about food in America and its cultural origins. Hosted by Padma Lakshmi, this show premiered in 2020 and got a second season locked in for 2021. What makes this different than your average celebrity chef food series? Well, it's a far cry from Diner's Drive-Ins and Dives, for sure. Instead of Padma traveling to tell you that your fried peanut butter and jelly is "DELICIOUS!" - you get a live look into American history through food. "The Gullah Way" is a favorite episode of ours, where Padma explores the heavy influence of Gullah Geechee culture and food in American, and especially Southern cooking.
Why We Like It:
It surprised us. Not necessarily talking to restaurant owners, but to people closest to the food, this series revealed small items that many of us don't think about when it comes to food. What was the first type of food eaten in America? When did the K-towns of America, become K-towns, and how did food fit into that? In its own way, this show demonstrates how diverse, how complex, American food is, and it really traces it back to our history.
3. The Next Thing You Eat
With only 6 episodes in the first season, this one is not too much of a commitment to seeing the full series. Famous, but also, famous for being good at what he does, David Chang walks us through, not recipes but important topics in food that anyone in the industry may be curious about. The series looks at the future of service in a few ways. Vending machines and robots working in food service, for example. We already place orders on tablets, even when we go to restaurants in person, so what's next? Chang also dives into the ugly stuff, the stuff we don't even want to talk about in food, like the lies in sushi. (We won't spoil it for you, but seriously, watch this episode, and perhaps get very sad and very invigorated about sushi).
Why We Like It:
Well, it's David Chang. He's funny, honest, and authentic, and it comes through. Often hosts of series like this can seem nearly pretentious, borderline arrogant, but Chang, it feels like he's just telling you things about the industry you ought to know. Like a friend with an inside scoop. It tells the truth, but in a way that makes you somehow feel hopeful about the future of food. It's for when you may want to think a bit deeper about food.
4. Bob's Burgers
This one is good if you're watching with your family, and even better if you happen to work with yours at a family business. This no frills burger spot located near a pier and competing with a "fancier" Italian place across the street has just enough restaurant relatability, but also, enough other content to not make you feel like you're right back at work. Bob and Linda are two restauranteurs who opened a burger spot and live upstairs from it. They have very little money, and a whole lot of heart, and they make their children into staff.
Why We Like It
We'll be honest. We LOVE this show. It's a low stress cartoon comedy that has just enough raunchy humor to make you laugh, but just enough feel-good moments, and there is always a character to remind you of someone you know. Imagine if The Simpsons ran a restaurant, but the kids were all extremely awkward and none of them a straight A student.
5. Cooks vs. Cons
This show is only for fun. Think Chopped meets The Masked Singer. Many of the judges on this show are the same ones seen on Chopped. The catch is that four contestants compete to create the same dish (no crazy ingredient challenge like you see on Chopped). While the contestants compete, the judges, AND the audience, try to guess who is a cook and who is con. Now, they're not literal con artists, that we know of, but the fun is in seeing if you can guess who is real cook, vs. who is an architect who happens to cook very well.
Why We Like It
The guessing is fun. It's a low pressure show where contestants are in fairly light spirits. This is an easy show to play while you cook or watch with non-foodies as well.