Cooking shows are popular around the world. It connects viewers with talented chefs and home cooks. Some shows stand head and shoulders above the rest.

Image of a man chopping vegetables.
Must-watch cooking shows from around the world.
Image by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash.

The Food Network channel is the TV world’s home for cooking shows. It features celebrities, such as Trisha Yearwood, who want to showcase their cooking skills to professional chefs. Although the channel offers a variety of shows that make cooking fun, it does gear these shows towards American audiences.

During this pandemic, lessons from Chopped would have served us well as we ran out of ingredients at home. Guy’s Grocery Games is a cooking competition that, while fun to watch, offers very little learning in the way of cooking. If you watch multiple episodes of this popular show, you’ll realize that innovative cooking is not a feature of the show.

There are, however, a few cooking shows that go beyond the mundane and prove their worth time and time again. You might not find it on the Food Network, but you can stream it from BBC or YouTube. I mention three such shows below.

Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals ­hosted by Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver is a world-famous British chef. He has written multiple best-selling cookbooks, owned several restaurants, and hosted popular cooking shows. His restaurant business might have taken a beating in the last two years, but his cooking shows are well worth watching.

Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals is a show based on the concept that you can cook a variety of nutritious and delicious meals in 15 minutes. Great food doesn’t always take forever to arrive at the table. This show offers recipes for quick-to-make meals ideal for the times we’re living in, without compromising flavor or nutrition.

The show also highlights the use of fresh ingredients coupled with pre-prepared ingredients. For example, Oliver could pair a fish dish with pre-cooked rice that you can find in the frozen food section of your local supermarket. Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals removes the snobbery from the cooking process and showcases the best of both worlds.

One of the primary reasons I enjoy this cooking show, and quite a few of Jamie Oliver’s cooking shows, is that he is not a one-note chef. He bases his meals on recipes from various countries: India, Thailand, Mexico, Italy, and Britain. I value cultural diversity in food as much as I value Oliver’s shows on meat-free/vegetarian dishes, which we seldom see on TV.

The Free Range Cook hosted by Annabel Langbein

Annabel Langbein is a New Zealand cook and best-selling cookbook author. She hosts her cooking show from the shores of stunning Lake Wanaka in New Zealand. She showcases the local produce, takes on a journey to source it, and incorporates it into her dishes on each show.

Langbein includes international dishes on her show, with a clever New Zealand twist. She has a no-fuss cooking style, which is comforting to inexperienced cooks. I’ve learned how to make a great orange cake and tried my hand at beetroot hummus after watching her shows.

The Free Range Cook highlights how we can live off the land. Annabel Langbein has her own impressive garden and orchard, from which she regularly sources her ingredients for the show. The best part of her show is her visits to the local farms and farmers’ markets, where they also offer organic produce.

I enjoy this show for a variety of reasons; the scenery is visually stunning, such that Lake Wanaka features on my list of places to visit; the dishes on the show all highlight local produce used in a variety of ways and Langbein’s meals are healthy and nutritious.

Rick Stein’s Long Weekends hosted by Rick Stein

Rick Stein is an English chef famous for his seafood specialties.  I remember first seeing him on a cooking show hosted by the acclaimed chef, Keith Floyd. For those of you who haven’t heard of Keith Floyd, he’s probably one of the first celebrity chefs and one who wasn’t afraid to drink on the job!

Rick Stein’s Long Weekends takes the viewer from Bordeaux in France to Thessaloniki in Greece. In this show, Rick Stein visits the culinary capitals of Europe in each episode. He explores their food markets, the restaurants, their produce, and samples their traditional dishes.

This show provides an insight into the culinary delights and fresh produce of various European countries that we rarely get to see on TV. We learn the origins of each traditional recipe featured, from tafelspitz in Vienna, Austria to smørrebrød in Copenhagen, Denmark. After each visit, Rick Stein showcases the country’s recipe with a twist, while paying homage to its traditions.

One of the major reasons I enjoy this show is that the viewer can learn about the culinary traditions of the countries visited. The show highlights original recipes that you can attempt at home. It also expands your knowledge of food history.

There is great value in learning about food, and how it reflects a country’s culture. If you’re interested in a different culinary experience, I would highly recommend these cooking shows. You will definitely broaden your recipe notebooks!