The world is slowly getting back to normal, albeit the new normal, after the lockdowns are lifted globally. While some countries and Indian states have opened their doors for tourism, only time will tell when you actually step outside for a long trip to the destination on your travel list. But till you get to travel again, you can certainly watch a few travel and food shows to widen your scopes of travel, add new places to your list as well as get to know a bit more about the places, people and their culture before you visit.
Here, I am listing five travel and food shows that I not only thoroughly enjoyed binge watching, but they also gave me much more than I had expected – touching, hilarious, informative stories about places and people, food and culture.
Somebody Feed Phil
I stumbled upon Somebody Feed Phil while having dinner one night and surfing through Netflix. Took me a while to get used to the host Phil Rosenthal (creator of Everybody Loves Raymond) and his jolly good fellow persona. But once I connected with him, I absolutely binge watched all three seasons till I tired my eyes.
Phil is an affable person, considerate, foodie, and has a childlike enthusiasm towards people and food. Being the creator of a world famous sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, the humor quotient on the show is top notch. During his world trip to eat food, Phil visits all the possible food places from street food stalls to fine dine restaurants, meeting people as peculiar as him with their unique stories and food.
The most lovable part of the show comes when Phil interacts with his equally funny parents over Skype. Their conversation is like a cherry on top in every episode. Season 4 of Somebody Feed Phil starts streaming on Netflix from October 30. This is my favorite show of the lot.
Jack Whitehall: Travels with my father
Loved the family angle used in a travel show (Somebody Feed Phil) and I could not resist watching this show soon. Jack Whitehall: Travels with my father is one of its kind travel and food show where comedian and actor Jack Whitehall takes his 70-something father Michael Whitehall on a trip during his gap year. In the first season, the lads and dads trip takes place in South East Asia. Jack does antiques of taking his father to places he’d hate the most without telling him – cheap hostels for stay, yoga classes, drag shows, camel rides, a Magic Mike night and more.
Michael is a grumpy yet curious man and often his eccentric and unpopular opinions on culture, foreign lands, foreign people, foreign food and of course his son are what make this show fun to watch. The banter between father and son is often hilarious. At times, I doubted whether it’s all scripted or the polar opposite personalities of father and son genuinely bring in the friction and fun. Whatever maybe the case, this lads and dads trip is worth a watch. The duo goes from South East Asia in the first season, Europe in the second, Los Angeles in the third and Australia in the fourth season.
Street Food Latin America
I absolutely loved Street Food Asia that landed on Netflix in 2019. Most humane and inspiring stories were the highlight of the show. Later I found out about creator David Gelb’s other fine works like Chef’s Table. I am fascinated by Latin America from whatever I have seen on television shows and films. I think there’s a cultural resonance between us Indians and South Americans. Both of us are eccentric yet emotional people, developing countries, history of colonialism, and both cultures have fascinating foods for all occasions.
Street Food Latin America keeps the moving stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things at its core. The street food is humble yet delicious. The stories are often women centric and are inspiring. What’s great to see is that in spite of all the adversities in life, the smiles on people’s faces are heart-warming. After all, there’s nothing more democratic in this world than street food. Do watch it.
Restaurants on the Edge
This is a typical TV broadcast show and has over-enthusiastic hosts talking animatedly. A trio of a designer (Karin Bohn), chef (Dennis Prescott) and an entrepreneur (Nick Liberato), give a complete makeover to a restaurant which is in a complete mess. Over two seasons, the trio travels to Malta, St. Lucia, Slovenia, Austria, USA, and Canada to name a few.
Moving stories of the restaurateurs/owners and the awe inspiring makeovers given by the expert trio, especially designer Bohn, is (as it should be) the highlight of the show. The episodes are 45 minutes to one hour long. I’d often watch an episode over lunch and another over dinner. With only six episodes per season, the show ended with I wanting more.
Paul Hollywood’s Big Continental Road Trip
This is more of a travel and cars show. In spite of having world renowned baker Paul Hollywood as host, the show hardly features food. Hollywood is a racing enthusiast. He travels to Italy, Germany and France to drive a variety of cars – modern supercars to vintage cars to delivery vans. If you like history and culture, this show will be a fun ride for you. It was amusing, at times baffling to see some of the cars and cultural connection with them.
Like an Italian on the show says, Germans want to make cars that are classy and powerful like them. We Italians make cars that make a lot of noise, just like the Italian people. Then you wonder and see that all Italian models – the Lamborghinis, the Ferraris, the Maserati’s all indeed make a lot of noise. Paris, the most romantic city in the world, sees some of the worst traffic jams. Also, the fashion capital of the world (Paris) has a really poor sense when it comes to designing their cars. It’s paradoxical, it’s historical, it’s phenomenal, it’s everything packed into one hour episode of each country and some of its famous cars. Take this ride for sure.
Bonus: You can also check out The Chef’s Table, Taco Chronicles, Ugly Delicious, The Truth about Alcohol, and Coffee for All on Netflix.