The Best Cooking Shows Professional Chefs Actually Like

Chris Rumpf

Founder and CEO, 15+ Years of Restaurant Technology Innovation

The Best Cooking Shows Professional Chefs Actually Like

We all know the competitive cooking shows, like the ones where the chefs are up against crazy time limits, absurd ingredients, a red-faced competitor, or line of smug critics. To most, these shows are exactly that; a show viewed for entertainment purposes. But what do professional chefs like to watch on their time off? Do they enjoy watching the heated, stressful kitchen environment when they’re sitting at home, or do they prefer to leave that tension at work?

We’ve asked a handful of professional chefs which shows they enjoy watching, and which they don’t. Read on for some interesting (and surprising!) recommendations of the best cooking shows from the pros. So you can connect with your cooks, spark connections, and keep up-to-date on what truly inspires your team.

1. Anything Anthony Bourdain

That’s right. Professional chefs love the late Anthony Bourdain. From his first book, Kitchen Confidential, to his last show, Parts Unknown, professional chefs are attracted to his real and raw telling of the food world. To many, his take on the restaurant industry is a refreshing and honest one. He peels away the glitz and glamour from linen-clad dining rooms and high-priced entrees and shines light on the heroes and their challenges behind the scenes.

Although his shows may not be deemed “cooking shows” per se, professional chefs are inspired by the unique cuisine and styles that Anthony highlighted in his travels. For most chefs, inspiration is what they crave to refine their craft. Techniques and recipes – not so much.

With his down-to-earth unpretentious attitude and fearlessness in showing the industry’s underbelly, Anthony will forever have the respect of professional chefs around the world.

2. Chef’s Table

If you haven’t seen this show, it comes highly recommended by the professionals as one of the best cooking shows on Netflix. Each show features a world-renowned chef and walks you through their kitchen, their inspiration, and their life’s mission. Whether a professional chef or not, this show is inspiring and will make you want to cook! It portrays food and cooking as an art, and chefs as artists, expressing in their purest form.

Professional chefs say this show helps them to see how the realm of possibility can be expanded in the kitchen and even educates on unique processes and ingredients that one wouldn’t normally use or combine. This show is perfect for chefs wanting to recreate their menu or get ideas for fun plating. It also reminds them to consider why they are doing what they do. The show reignites a passion for food, service, and ultimate creativity.

3. The French Chef

Considering that this show aired from 1963 to 1973 and that there have been so many other top cooking shows since this entry may surprise you. But the reason is simple: Julia Child inspired many to believe they could cook in the first place.

Whether professional chefs today or their parents, many have been impacted by Julia Child. Her first show introduced French cooking to the everyday American who had previously associated French cooking with snails, croissants, and upscale restaurants. The impact this show made on the food industry is undeniable.

4. Top Chef

Although professional chefs tend to leave the kitchen stress out of their living room, they do seem to enjoy some of the exciting and suspenseful cooking competition shows. However, we get an eye roll when it comes to the time limits. Most professional chefs know that it takes hours – if not days – to cook an excellent meal. When they hear the contestants have one hour, they know that this is more for the viewer’s entertainment and less for a meal that will come out tasting halfway decent.

That being said, seeing chefs create inventive dishes and inspire with their personal stories is enough to draw in the professional cooking community and create a watching experience that is relatable and fun.

Tune in to one of these shows to see for yourself why professional chefs named these 4 the best cooking shows on television. Chances are, you will enjoy them too, and you’ll get an inside look into what motivates, inspires, and drives your team of cooks to do what they do.