12 Under The Radar Shows For Every Type Of Foodie

The world of television has turned into a haven for culinary shows and docuseries. It's safe to say there's pretty much everything and anything when it comes to food shows — depicting things like classic cooking and travel, production and manufacturing, pastry illusions, and so much more. The limited days of cable have given way to endless streaming options from around the world, and when it comes to food series, that's been huge.

Although there's something wonderful about having a plethora of food shows from which to choose, the format of reality competition in particular has become a bit repetitive. While there's nothing wrong with this style of show, every foodie has their own favorite flavor— so, while some viewers want a highly competitive atmosphere, others want something more cinematic or laid back.

For those foodies who think they've seen it all in a favorite niche, think again. There are plenty of new shows and docuseries out there, often flying under the radar. Sometimes they're overlooked on major streaming platforms, while other times they're little-known web-series. 

Below is a curated a list of some of the best little-seen shows for every type of foodie. In most cases, they are free, and every bit as wonderful as mainstream ones — if not more.

The all-around foodie: The Migrant Kitchen

"The Migrant Kitchen" is a stunning, heartwarming, and of course mouthwatering food series. Fans of "Chef's Table" are likely to enjoy "Migrant," since the two have a similar pace, cinematic feel, and focus on chefs evolving today's culinary landscape. The difference? "The Migrant Kitchen" turns its attention towards first-generation chefs in the U.S., whose food and culinary choices pay homage to their cultural identity.

The first three seasons of this Emmy-winning docuseries center around chefs celebrating the diverse food culture of California. The fourth and most recent season expands its geographic scope. Chefs from Portland, Brooklyn, Houston, and Puerto Rico are featured, as well as Los Angeles. So far, the expansion of the show's scope has been wonderfully received.

Overall, "Migrant" is a must-watch. It wraps the culinary and immigrant experience together like julienned vegetables in a spring roll — tightly and perfectly. By combining new flavors and cooking techniques with ethnic cuisines, the chefs highlighted have created an unparalleled combination of nostalgia and innovation in their vibrant kitchens. Even a non-foodie should appreciate this brilliantly put together food series. Produced by KCET in association with Life & Thyme, "The Migrant Kitchen" is available to stream for free on YouTube.

The chef at heart: The Mind of a Chef

Another award-winning food series garnering low-key yet recognition in the culinary space is "The Mind of a Chef," a docuseries primarily produced and narrated by the late Anthony Bourdain. It follows some of the best and brightest chefs today, illuminating recipes and techniques before your eyes, while also taking the viewer on a journey of travel, culture, and food.

The latest season of "The Mind of a Chef" follows world-renowned Ludo Lefebvre. Wielding a vision, cooking methods, and techniques that are a testament to his influence on the food scene in Los Angeles, he's a force of nature. Season 5 also includes several episodes of compilation footage from visionary culinary minds working in the space today. What's so wonderful about this show is that it explores what it means to not only cook, but think, create, and often obsess over the perfect bite. It's truly for the chef at heart, and will not disappoint.

"The Mind of a Chef" is produced by Zero Point Zero Production and presented by WGBH. It's available to stream with a subscription on PBS, or for purchase on various other platforms like Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV. The first couple seasons are also available for free on platforms like Tubi, Vudu, The Roku Channel, Pluto, Plex, and Freevee.

The culinary historian: High on the Hog

"High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America" is a moving, captivating series exploring the formation of American cuisine through the deep roots, unimaginable circumstances, and triumphs of African Americans in the United States. Yes, there is an important conversation around the history of southern soul food and flavors of barbecue, but it's also about so much more. Bringing to light and honoring a history that has been largely erased, the series honors the black culinary excellence that has evolved despite it all.

Based on a book by historian Dr. Jessica B. Harris, and hosted by Whetstone Media's Stephen Satterfield, "High on the Hog" packs a powerful punch. The conversations Satterfield has with chefs, cooks, food historians, and others in the culinary space brings everything full circle. Instead of being a famous show-host who tries foreign cuisines all over the world, it feels like a homecoming. A reacquainting with black history and recognition of the present through the lens of food. Although it did garner buzz and received some impressive honors, it should have received a lot more. "High on the Hog" is available to stream on Netflix.

The sustainable eater: Food 2050

A series highlighting the needs of the global food system in the wake of the planet's biggest challenges, "Food 2050" confronts the realities of an ever-growing population expected to hit 10 billion by 2050, covering critical food system challenges. From farming practices to climate change to malnutrition, there are a lot of constantly-moving factors in play, and this docuseries depicts the problem by showcasing 10 changemakers across the globe working to find innovative solutions. 

These changemakers were selected from over 1,300 submissions, 4,000 organizations, and 119 countries. The result is a spectacular, enlightening, and critical look into the gap between the current food system and where it needs to be by 2050.

Created by The Rockefeller Foundation and Media RED, "Food 2050" makes the case for a more sustainable, equitable food system that promotes the health and longevity of the human race. The visuals, stories, organizations, and lives of the communities featured are breathtaking, each filmed in a fashion that can both break and mend the heart at the same time. This short-episode series is a powerful, insightful watch on the future of food that is well-deserving of the praise it has received thus far and available as a free web-series.

The food science nerd: Cooked

"Cooked" is a food series hosted by well-known nutrition and wellness author Michael Pollan. He has written books such as "In Defense of Food," "The Omnivore's Dilemma," and most recently, "How to Change Your Mind." Perhaps unsurprisingly, the prolific storyteller makes for a great show host, as his soothing demeanor adds to the effortlessness of watching him. The show is based on one of Michael Pollan's books, which shares the same name.

"Cooked" is a four-part docuseries that takes the viewer on a visual journey, highlighting the transformations that occur when elements such as fire, water, air, and earth are applied to cooking. Each episode provides a deep dive into different ingredients, cooking methods, and the science behind their merger. It also explores cultural rituals, food practices, and the ethnic cuisines that have shaped society at large. For the food lover and food science nerd who may be interested, "Cooked" is available to stream on Netflix.

The open-flame obsessed: Food Safari - Fire

"Food Safari – Fire" is a sequel to the original "Food Safari" series, which ran for four successful seasons. This docuseries follows Australia's top chefs, cooks, and barbecue connoisseurs, illustrating many fire-based cooking methods used across the country and offering insight into different secrets to not just grill but also smoke, roast, and bake in different types of ovens. It's fascinating to learn about the various techniques and science behind something like a tandoor or wood-fired. Another selling point is that the series showcases a variety of different cuisines, interviewing culinary experts in Australia from all different ethnic backgrounds.

One of the best parts of the show, however, is host Maeve O'Meara. Buoyed by a natural curiosity which makes her a great interviewer, O'Meara's interactions with chefs and cooks in their restaurants are sometimes a bit awkward, but endearing, never cringey. Overall, the show is a wonderful deep dive into the world of cooking with fire, and may even inspire some open-fire dinner party recipes at home. "Food Safari – Fire" is available to stream for free on Amazon Prime Video and Tubi.

The vegan expert: Peeled

The first cooking show with an entirely vegan cast, this out-of-the-box series was released recently on YouTube as a three-parter. "Peeled" received positive feedback and reviews, from the plant-based community and beyond. The reality competition show has a few names behind it, like Chef Josie Clemens (who appeared on "Hell's Kitchen") as the featured judge, joined by 3 others who are either vegan chefs or plant-based founders.

Overall, "Peeled" has a similar feel to "Chopped," but with a few twists. The show is entirely plant-based, of course, with contestants asked to use specific vegan products. At times this can feel like brand advertising, but the show is still worth the watch. "Peeled" also includes some short cooking demos based on what contestants recently prepared for the judges, as well as gluten-free substitutions for these recipes.

Regardless of whether the viewer is vegan, the contestant's creativity around plant based food make the sow a fascinating watch. Focused on a wide array of vegan ingredient substitutes, it's fascinating to see chefs thinking on their feet, improvising tasty-looking dishes in a short amount of time. If you're plant-based and looking for some new ideas in the kitchen, it's a must-watch; check out "Peeled" for free on YouTube.

The cannabis-infused connoisseur: Cooked with Cannabis

Among the first few shows to embrace cannabis-infused cooking and baking, Netflix's "Cooked with Cannabis" is focused on chefs that have been incorporating the most controversial of food ingredients in their kitchens — sometimes for high-end dinner parties — for years. They are asked to prepare a three-course, cannabis-infused meal with reality competition trappings, but things take an appropriately more chill, laid back approach when it comes to the rotating guest judges.

One of the best parts about the series is that the competing chefs explain a lot of the techniques and nuances of their unorthodox cooking specialities. Cannabis in the culinary space is still quite new, which makes listening to the chefs elaborate on their cooking methods interesting and exciting. Often, conversations center around CBD to THC ratios, oil and fat absorption, and everything in between. It's also fun to watch the judges — chefs, comedians, and more — slowly get high over the course of the meal. By dessert, one is left to wonder whether the food was really getting tastier, or if it was just the weed talking. Stream "Cooked with Cannabis" on Netflix.

The family friendly home cook: The Big Family Cooking Showdown

"The Big Family Cooking Showdown" is exactly what it purports to be — a reality cooking competition show featuring different sets of families. Filmed in the UK and originally aired on BBC, expect famous hosts and chefs (like Nadiya Hussain in Season 1 and Tommy Banks in Season 2) as families cook dishes together to impress them. Yes, it maintains a very traditional competition show pattern, but there's also something really wonderful about watching family members work together to bring specific dishes to life.

Another entertaining element is seeing contestants put their own spin on certain dishes. Sometimes, they'll even bring their own home-made spice blends and incorporate family recipes into their presented meals. 

It's heartwarming to see the faces of the judges light up when they taste something they've never tried before, and the sincere ensuing happiness on the faces of the contestants is every bit as tremendous. The result is an all around feel-good show, nevertheless maintaining a competitive vibe that keeps viewers engaged. "The Big Family Cooking Showdown" is available to stream on Netflix.

The culinary competitor: The Final Table

Looking for an ultra-competitive cooking show? Look no further than "The Final Table." 

This series can only be described as an ultimate reality competition show. It has the intensity of "Chopped Champions," with a structure reminiscent of "Iron Chef." Yet, instead of one new chef trying to beat the celebrity chefs, it's a bunch of successful chefs from different countries competing against each other.

When the competition starts, the chefs come out as a two-person team, representing their respective country. As the rounds go by, they have to put their spin on popular dishes from around the world. Once the playing field is narrowed down by the judges and guest judges, it's everyone for themselves. Each contestant then cooks for a panel of esteemed chefs from around the world, whittled down until only one remains.

The creativity in this show is everywhere, and although sometimes it feels like there's just too much going on at once, it's no less amazing to see all the different flavor combinations and plating techniques. Home cooks who think they can keep up with the professionals might think twice after watching this exhilarating series. For those out to feed their competitive side, this is hands down the show to watch. Stream "The Final Table" on Netflix.

The baking enthusiast: Baking It

"Baking It" might just be the closest an American-produced cooking show can get to capturing the laid=back attitude more commonly found in the food space in other countries. It's not often that a reality competition show puts this much effort into lighthearted fun, but the approach here is reminiscent of "The Great British Baking Show," and it seems to be paying off.

Currently, there are two seasons out. Season 1 is hosted by comedian/actors Maya Rudolph and Andy Samberg. In the second season, Samberg is replaced by another comedic favorite, Amy Poehler. The contestants themselves work in groups of two, usually with someone they know very well, from family members to life partners to baking colleagues. The judges are also "grannies" (elderly actresses paid to play this role), not famous celebrities or chefs.

All these elements give "Baking It" a feel that is communal and non-judgmental, resisting the need for critiques, focusing instead on levity and enjoyment. It's no surprise that the show is gaining traction and becoming increasingly popular. Stream "Baking It" on Peacock.

The chocolate lover: School of Chocolate

For some people, chocolate is all they think about day and night; "School of Chocolate" is the reality competition show for them. Hosted by world-renowned chocolatier Amaury Guichon (the Frenchman's chocolate sculptures frequently go viral), he mentors eight up-and-coming pastry chefs looking to make a name in the world of chocolate. The students, who are also the contestants, face many incredible chocolate-sculpting challenges while creating edible illusions and learning various chocolate making techniques. Your jaw will drop and water at the same time; watch out for drool.

One of the best parts of the show is that the competition rounds begin with a demonstration from Guichon himself, giving viewers insight into the process and Guichon in action. Although the competing pastry chefs don't get to design a fashion show where models dress in chocolate if they win, they do get a cash prize, and a chance to teach at Guichon's pastry academy. Overall, the show is a lovely, chocolatey watch — what's not to like? Stream "School of Chocolate" on Netflix.